God’s Will – Perhaps Not a Specific Individual Plan
I often struggle with whether I am following God’s will for my life or not but as this week ends I have learned that perhaps things are not as specific as I have thought them to be. My personal friends and family are well aware that IÂ have painted on a large mural for the past two months as theyÂ have learnedÂ of my step by step progress for the most part whether interested or not. I tend to allow things like that to consume my life and have to work hard to maintain The Careful Balance of LifeÂ Â as I pointed out last week. Let’s just say my husband has alluded that he was tiring of the project information details. This week however I completed the mural butÂ with bittersweet feelings torn between the great accomplishment of the finished work and not wanting the project to end as nothing was looming ahead on the horizon. So once again I found myself wondering if I wasÂ following God’s will for my life as IÂ often question whether IÂ amÂ living outÂ His plan or purpose.Â IÂ frequentlyÂ reevaluate this issue and attempt to discern if indeed I am following God’s will for my life or not asÂ I transition through projects.Â I thought I had somewhat determined what God’s will meant until an encounter yesterday withÂ a longtimeÂ friend. Earlier this week I had arranged to meet withÂ my friend and former colleagueÂ on Saturday to pick up some things that I had allowed him to borrow as he is officially retiring next Friday. He has looked forward to this point in his life for the last couple of years. He is a talented painter and cannotÂ wait to work in his new studio every day just painting whatever inspires him. Unfortunately life has a way of twisting and turning things around and not going the way we expect them to go and with the jubilant celebration of retirement very close he noticed some health issues that upon exploration was found to be cancer. Suddenly during a time of celebration he and his familyÂ found themselves dealing with unknown entities. As I arrived Saturday I was fully prepared to offer support and comfort. I was ready to supply the customary statements of “Everything happens for a reason”, “God has a plan”, “Somehow this will work out for God’s plan, and it is His will.” These statements are all meant to be encouraging even though they somehow do not convey a lot of comfort. IÂ prepared for a sad greeting, a time of reflection, a need to pull out my Bible verses of hope even though I wasn’t feeling very much like I was following God’s will, plan, or even encouragement for myself. I parked my car and slowly walked up the walk to the door he had left propped open for me. The person that greeted me however was not downtrodden, sad, or lacking of encouragement and insteadÂ a smile and hug welcomed me.Â Told was the good news of the diagnosis and although it is cancer the optimism of total cure was great. The treatment although intenseÂ isÂ at this time to not beÂ severe. ThingsÂ are really going well for him in the overall as he told me he recently sold several painting, was teaching a class at night, retirement was Friday and really with the ugly exception of the cancer; life was great! I listened to the good news with astonishment and after telling me his good newsÂ my friend realized that I seemed to be struggling with my emotions. It was I that needed the encouragement not him. He was very sure of what he was doing and the plan he was following where as I had no idea what the next week held. He immediately gave me a book to read that was on his desk that he said had really helped him gain a new perspective and he thought I should read it. I recognized the author of the thin little book by Adam Hamilton, Why? Making Sense of God’s Will, as I had read other books by him. My friend continued to encourage me with thoughts and direction as we discussed God’s will. I took the book but frankly wondered what insight it could provide that I didn’t already have but I did think that it might help me with writing this week’s focus verse, Proverbs 21:30;
There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord. (NIV)
God’s Will – Using Free Will toÂ Glorify God
I thought I had this verse allÂ figured out this week. I had read the corresponding verses and I knew that what I was reading was aboutÂ our powerful God. IfÂ we areÂ working for God then nothing could work against us, ifÂ we areÂ working according to His plan and will, right? My mind said oh yes, this was right my gut was questioning how do you know the plan? What if our plan is working against God’s will? What is God’s will and how doÂ we know it? What if we follow the wrong plan have we then royally messed everything up? Are the tragedies of life part of the plan? I sat down upon getting home withÂ my lunch and the little book. I was just going to flip through it and see if I could gain insight for writing however chapter 1 lead to chapter 2, and I couldn’t miss chapter three because it was all about God’s will and then well there was just one more chapter so I might as well finish the book. Needless to say I would highly recommend this book to everyone not because it has magic answers or divine information but because its logic is what we as believers already know but need to be reminded in a way that uses scripture as the foundation. This little book has given me further insight to this week’s focus verse and God’s will for our lives. As I studied earlier this week in Acts 5: 38-39;Â reminders came forthÂ that saidÂ God is very powerful and I am not and neither is any human. IfÂ God wants something to occur it will and no one can mess up anything that God intends to happen. We do not have that power.
So this is my advice, leave these men alone, Let them go. If they are planning and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be over thrown. But if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God!” (NLT)
These spoken wordsÂ to the High Council byÂ Gamaliel were of the arrested apostles whoÂ earlier wereÂ healing and teaching. The words give voice to the meaning that God is the most powerful and if it is God working nothing is going to change that plan. If you continue to read though it will also show that standing for God’s will is not without problem. The apostlesÂ found themselves flogged, released,Â and told not to teach and preach the message that “Jesus is the Messiah”. Jesus himself tells us in Matthew 7:13-14 that doing God’s will, may lead to hardship and difficulty. This does not mean that God causes evil to occur asÂ He does not. He does however give us free will and it is through free will that misguided or bad choices can be made by other humans resulting in what isÂ evil. So what about God’s will for our lives, do these verses mean thatÂ to reach God’s willÂ in heaven we must go out and preach and teach? Perhaps this is correct for some but not for all of us. So how do we know God’s specific will for us? If we look to the apostle Paul’s teaching in Colossians 1: 9 – 10 we learn that God’s will is about honoring and pleasing the Lord through growing our relationship, living a life worthy of the Lord, and learning more about Him. It all comes back to glorifying the Lord whichÂ is our purpose. We can glorify the Lord through many jobs. Hamilton, in his book, suggests that God’s will for our life is not necessarily a specific individual plan for every situation we will face so not a pre-written script but a timeless plan for how to make decisions and face life every day. It is not about our happiness but our faithfulness. Hamilton further suggests that we are co-authoring our story with God throughÂ the decisions we make with the gift of free will. Because we all have this gift all humankind’s stories become intertwined and connected with one another depending on how we use the free will gift. Our lives can be rich no matter how the humankind gift of freewill touches us. This is how Paul was able to find joyÂ through the times of suffering. God doesn’t always make the bad things of life go away but if we depend upon Him with our faith and walk with Him in daily life He will help us find peace. God works through us to help others and influences us by the nudging of the Holy Spirit. If we are watching and listening closely we will often be lead to act upon these influences. God is with us daily and He uses us to care for one another. God takes the free will of evil and brings good from it if we allow Him to by trusting in Him. We should strive daily to follow God’s will of loving one another (even those who make it difficult), being of faith to follow the given lawsÂ (i.e. the ten commandments), and having the courage to keep moving forward no matter the difficulty we face taking comfort in Romans 8:28 knowing that God creates good from bad. Some time ago IÂ was noticing a loose thread on a sweater and began to think about that thread and life, more specifically the intertwining threads of life.Â You see all of our life is made up of threads (individual experiences) that woven together form a beautiful thing. Sometimes there are gold threads, sometimes silver, and sometimes copper but most of the time there are just plain colored threads that don’t seem like much until you stand back and began to distinguish a pattern. But in the final design the most beautiful threads of all are the dark threads. These are theÂ threads of life that at the time seem to throw off the balance and overwhelm us. The dark threads are not noted until later in time when we stand back and reflect realizingÂ thatÂ without the dark threads, the shadows of life, none of the other threads would stand out and form a design. As without the dark threads the light of all the plain colored threads andÂ the few fancy metallic ones wouldÂ flatten and beÂ meaninglessÂ becauseÂ of the missing shadows. The dark threads are necessary for the design toÂ emerge and the power of the weaver to be clearly seen. My weekend began with me searching for God’s will for my life and attempting to offer comfort to a friend on God’s will for his life but what IÂ gained was an added thread to my life’sÂ designÂ as I found comfort givenÂ by my friend and have new insight to God’s will forÂ our lives. Is God powerful? You bet and nothing can succeed against His will but God has gifted us with free will and if we want to live for our purpose of glorifying Him then we must invite God to lead, guide, and use us and then pay attention because He is right beside us making suggestions as we act weaving a thread at a time. May everyone have a blessed week and I pray your threads will not be dark this week but know if they are you are making a beautiful tapestry with God. Love in Christ, E.J. Post Script
To my dear friend, Thank you. You are a beautiful thread in my life and often provide support to me when I need it. I pray I can provide the same to you when you need it. We will all pray for your healing to full restoration with strong prayersÂ for doctor’s wisdom and discernment along with the powerful intervention of God, Himself. Happy Retirement my friend may you always paint joyfully until you areÂ rich in age andÂ God calls you home to paint the glorious colors found in His kingdom.
God’s Will – What are your thoughts?
Does the thought that God may not have scripted your life out challenge your faith? Have you stood back and looked at your threads together in the full design?Â Do you feel you are following God’s will for your life? Have you struggled with your place in the world? Join us in discussion. Hamilton, Adam. (2011). Why? Making Sense of God’s Will.Â Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.