Here is another example of choosing God’s will over one’s own will and the will of friends. Paul declared, “‘I am ready not only to be bound but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.’ And since he would not be persuaded, we fell silent, remarking, ‘The will of the Lord be done!’” (Acts 21:13–14 NASB). The elders of Ephesus tried to persuade Paul not to go to Jerusalem, but Paul felt that He had heard from God. They concluded that they should become silent concerning the matter and acknowledged that God’s will be accomplished.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”
James 4:13–15 NASB
Our prayer should be, “Father, teach me and empower me each day to say, ‘If the Lord wills.’ Help me to learn how to listen to the Holy Spirit so that I might know Your direction in my life.”
As we understand what Christ accomplished for us in His agony and the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe, we can appreciate the full significance of Paul’s statement in Ephesians:
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
Ephesians 2:4-10 NASB
We were dead in trespasses and sins. The full impact of what Christ accomplished needs to settle into our spirit: How lost we really were and how completely separated we were from God in our mind and understanding. He did not just save us, but He raised us up with Him and seated us in heavenly places. Our victory flows from this work of Christ in God. We operate out of a heavenly realm, not an earthly one.
The agony of Gethsemane opened the door to all of heaven’s promises. Jesus was alone in the Garden of Gethsemane. Even though His disciples were physically near, they were very far away. Jesus walked the road that led to the cross all by Himself. He was forsaken by everyone. A few watched from a distance with mixed emotions over what was taking place. His agony became our great expectation, which is the biblical meaning of hope.