The old adage says “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink”.
The obvious lesson is that you can provide opportunity and resources, you can facilitate and assist someone, but you can’t force them to do something against their will... even if that thing is good for them or in their best interest. People are ultimately responsible for their own choices. Good or bad.
During a recent press conference Kayleigh McEnany told reporters “I can only explain it to you, I can’t understand it for you”, she was probably quoting Edward Koch who said “I can explain it to you, but I can’t comprehend it for you”. Someone can have truth to presented to them, but they don't have to accept it. Again the idea is that I am ultimately responsible for accepting truth or changing my thoughts, no one can do that for me.
These two examples illustrate for us the frustration that we have all felt at some time in our lives. The frustration at not being able to motivate someone to change. The frustration at not being able to communicate or express an idea to someone in a way that they will understand. I think all of us have, at some point in our lives, uttered these phrases - Why won’t you listen to me? Why won’t you stop that? Can’t you see what I’m trying to say or do here? This is for your own good!
I heard someone say the other day, No one can surrender for you, only you can surrender for yourself. They were speaking in reference to our relationship to God, and I thought about how frustrating it must be for God as He is constantly trying to lead us, guide us, and protect us. Often times contrary to our will. Not that God forces Himself on us against our will, but that in many ways getting my way would not be the best thing for me. I can imagine God in heaven saying - Why won’t you listen to me? Why won’t you stop that? Can’t you see what I’m trying to say or do here? This is for your own good!
I can only imagine how often the Lord wants me to surrender but I want to stubbornly keep doing what I want to do. How often He wants me to change my thoughts but I want to keep believing what I want to believe. God will often use my friends, my family, a sermon or a podcast to speak to me, to challenge me or correct me, but the bottom line is only I can surrender for myself. I can be lead to the water, but I must choose to drink. I can be presented with the truth but I must choose to embrace it. No one can do that for me, which means I am responsible, I am accountable, I know better.
The problem of course is that God tends to be subtle, He doesn’t yell, and He doesn’t stamp His feet. The Bible says He speaks with a still small voice, often just a whisper.
We all know what it is like to be bullied by someone who shouts or pouts. We might outwardly comply just to maintain the peace but we are not surrendered in our heart or mind. God wants us to surrender, not just comply. So He speaks to us in a whisper.
He will lead you to the water, but He won’t make you drink. He will tell you truth but He won’t make you accept it. He will ask you to surrender, but He won’t force you to comply... only you can do that!