Do Whatever He Tells You: Surrender to Divine Will
(Originally published in The Prodigal Parishioner)
Our Blessed Mother doesn’t say much—but when she does, she says everything.
Sacred Scripture records only four instances of Mary speaking, three of which are in the Gospel of Luke: Her conversation with the angel Gabriel at the Annunciation and her surrendering fiat (Luke 1:34,38), her marvelous hymn of praise, now called the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), and when she found Jesus in the Temple after three desperate days of searching (Luke 2:48).
No other Gospel records the words of the Blessed Mother—except for John. The brevity of her exchange with Jesus during the wedding at Cana and the fact that John only mentions two of Mary’s sentences (John 2:3 and 2:5) causes us to pay strict attention. The pithiness of our Mother’s statements as recorded by John point toward something deep, something great, something profound. Her last words in that Gospel are of particular importance.
“Do whatever He tells you.”
Surrender to Divine Will
Doing whatever Jesus tells us is to surrender—in complete trust—to God’s will. This entails several things, each progressively layering upon the other.
First, we must ask for His help, because we can’t truly do whatever He says without God’s grace to assist us. Second, we must listen to whatever He tells us, keeping in mind that the voice of the Holy Spirit is still and small (1 Kings 19:12). This means we have to quiet our rambunctious inner selves before we can hear His voice speaking within the deepest reaches of our beinghood.
Third, we need to release our personal preferences and desires. If they’re not in alignment with God’s will, they’ll assuredly lead us astray. Following our own inner urgings, whims and fancies without bothering to listen to God or pray for His guidance will always end badly, with consequences that will need to be mopped up.
Cleaning up messes is never fun. Best to avoid making them altogether.
After we release, we have to surrender completely to His will, not merely with words or even lofty intentions—although these are great places to start—but with a pure and yielding heart. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me” (Ps. 51:10).
Authentic surrender to God’s will is characterized by resignation and acceptance. In today’s world, both words are often associated with weakness and defeat, but quite the opposite is at the heart of Christian resignation and acceptance.
Christian resignation and acceptance is about hope, not defeat; life, not paralysis.
Christian resignation to God’s holy will is the peace-filled willingness to step aside and not fight against the Holy Spirit’s plans, especially when His plans clash with our own personal desires. It means facing our hardships and sufferings head-on, in a prayerful stance, so that in faith we can proclaim “we know that in everything God works for good with those who love Him” (Rom. 8:28).
This particularly applies to the most difficult circumstances in our lives.
Accepting these truths is the task Mary has set before us. “Do whatever He tells you” is no easy undertaking. Quite often we fight against what He tells us, believing we must be hearing wrong, convinced the task will be too difficult or uncomfortable. Or, we focus on how terrible our sufferings are making us feel, rather than allowing them to fill us with the peace of Christ. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you” (John 14:27).
“Do whatever He tells you” and accept whatever that may be. No matter what that may be. Regardless of how surprising, challenging, or daunting His will may seem to you. Remember, He knows best.
“Do whatever He tells you” and then watch your life expand in glorious ways.
Blessed are You, O God, with every pure blessing.
Blessed are You because You have made me glad,
And because it has not turned out as I was expecting;
but You have treated us according to Your great mercy.