But there is one line that lies at the heart of the book’s story—and at the heart of your story as well. It is spoken when the story begins and when it ends. It is a kind of prayer. In fact, it is the greatest prayer Jesus himself ever prayed. If we were ever able to pray it truly and continually, it is in a real sense the only prayer you and I would ever need. Gary Moon tells it this way:
As the movie opens, we see the heroine going about chores on a farm. Her name is Buttercup. (I know, but I still like the movie.) Soon we meet a young man who works on the farm and answers to the name Farm Boy.
Whenever Buttercup asks Farm Boy to do something for her, he always replies, “As you wish.” That’s all he ever says to her.
As they grow into their hormones, Buttercup seems to be developing a crush on Farm Boy. One day as he is about to leave the room, she asks him to fetch her a pitcher, which is within easy reach for her. Farm Boy walks over, then stares into her eyes, lifts the pitcher, and whispers: “As you wish.”
In that moment, returning his gaze, Buttercup realizes that every time he has said, “As you wish,” he was really saying, “I love you.”
For many centuries, those wisest among us about the spiritual life have insisted that this one line is the door that opens the heart to the presence of God. There is no greater expression of love than a freely submitted will. As you wish.
Jean Pierre de Caussade writes, “Every moment, and in respect of everything, we must say like St. Paul, ‘Lord, what should I do?’ Let me do everything you wish.”
Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.”
There is no greater expression of love than a freely submitted will. As you wish.
Brother Lawrence writes, “Let us often remember, dear friend, that our sole occupation in life is to please God.”
“At the heart of communion with God,” writes Gary Moon, “is the whisper, ‘As you wish.’”
There are moments when I remember to pray that prayer. They are not usually dramatic. The tax man emails us with the good news that Uncle Sam is sending back some of our money, and it occurs to me that I could be generous with it. I’m sitting in a meeting at work, and the thought strikes my mind that I could be quiet for a few minutes and look for someone else’s idea to cheer on. I’ve been traveling for a week and I’m in a strange airport and I’m feeling lonely, and I get a sudden impulse to open the Bible and ask God to meet with me there. And he does.
There are other times when it doesn’t even enter my mind to say, “As you wish.” I’m not necessarily being defiant, just oblivious. There are times when I’m not sure what God wishes me to do, and I have to just muddle through on my own. And there are times when I simply don’t want to pray it—when I choose to not pray it.
C. S. Lewis wrote that the day is coming when every soul will adopt one of two postures before God: either joyful surrender or defiant separation. One day every being will say either “Thy will be done,” or “My will be done.”
Ortberg, John. 2009. God Is Closer than You Think. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
We have just completed a 10-Part Study of John Ortberg’s book, God Is Closer Than Your Think. It is available as part of Good Questions Have Groups Talking Lesson Subscription Service. It is also available on Amazon