by Ronnie McBrayer
I’ve made a habit lately of studying the Amish. The Amish (and their cousins the Mennonites, Brethren, and a few other groups) are lovers and active makers of peace. They value simplicity above almost any other thing. They love their families and community, and they have a profound trust in God. This trust, employing a good Amish-German word, is called “Gelassenheit.”
“Gelassenheit” is usually translated as “submission” or “to yield,” but it is so much more. It is a total letting go. It is a relinquishment of the self. It is a “thy will be done” kind of life – not a blind, hopeless fatalism, but a defiant and restful faith in God. One Amish farmer summed up “Gelassenheit” saying, “We don’t pray for rain, but we are thankful to God when the rain arrives.” This perspective gives the Amish a completely different understanding of “the will of God” than most of the Christian universe.
Many of us have been taught that “God’s will” is this magic be-all-end-all, which, if discovered, can end all the angst and indecision of life. So we chase after and fret over what God wants us to do, thinking there will be complete and total disaster if we miss the secret plan he has for us. We twist and writhe in the anguish of our decisions, never feeling good about any choice we make.
Maybe we can take a cue from the Amish and neutralize the mystery of finding and doing God’s will. Maybe we can learn to simply trust God with our life and our circumstances. Maybe, if we keep hitting the wall, we can stop, listen, and trust for a while. Maybe we can learn to yield our own wills, or at least stop using God’s name to sanction our decisions.
Here is the thing the Amish can teach us: Rather than trusting an exact path and direction for your life, just trust God with your life. After all, God is bigger than your plans, stronger than your failures, and never fails to reward those who seek after him. You can find peace by quit trying to figure out what to do for God and simply rely upon God.
Meister Eckhart wrote: “God wants no more from you than you letting go of yourself. Then you can let God be God in you.” If that’s not God’s will, then I don’t know what is.
Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, speaker, and author. His books include “Leaving Religion, Following Jesus” and “The Jesus Tribe.” Visit his website at www.ronniemcbrayer.net.