Thursday, November 20, 2008

Do You REALLY Want to Know God's Will?

Sometimes I hear people ask, "What is God's will for my life?"

I've asked it. But I wonder...

Do we REALLY want to know what God's will is for our life?

Be careful. The answer may surprise you.

If I'm honest, sometimes I get suckered into the trap of thinking God's will is IDENTICAL to my will for my life: nice house, good kids, new car, lots of money in the bank, great health, the perfect marriage, being liked by everyone, a life of ease and luxury.

Unfortunately, if you take all of Scripture together, it becomes impossible to believe such things are always God's will for us. How did we come to believe such a ridiculous equation?

It's just not true. Not always. Maybe not even usually.

Henry Knight writes about John Wesley's view of God's will:

"Wesley...suggests that asking what is the will of God may be a misleading question; it would be better asked in each situation what will further one's improvement or growth in grace, and what would make one most useful to God?" (The Presence of God in the Christian Life: John Wesley and the Means of Grace)

Boiling it down and putting in everyday language, it reads like this: What would make me more like Jesus?

Think about that for a moment.

Is it possible that the very thing that will "improve (my) growth in grace" is not someone being nice to me, but their being thoughtless or mean to me?

Is it possible that the thing that makes me most useful to God is not having plenty of money, but being short on cash?

If I asked God what would make me most Christlike, am I ready for Him to say, "You know, I could really you when things stink in your life, when you lose your job, when you are sick, or when you're unjustly embarrassed"?

I have to confess to you that I hope He's NOT thinking that about me or any of you right now. But...

...I also have to confess that He just might be. Scripture tells us in our weakness, He is made strong.

So ask yourself again: how badly do I REALLY want to know God's will for my life.

And once I know it, am I willing to cooperate with God in it? Even if God calls for a path I wouldn't choose?

Isn't this what Jesus was saying when he prayed in the garden, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." (Matthew 26:39b)

A friend of mine mentioned that a frequent theme in the Gospels is Jesus going away to pray, looking for some alone time with God. We might wonder, "What kind of prayer sessions did the Son of Man have with the Everlasting Father?"

We might get all starry-eyed thinking about the possibilities of being in on such a sacred conversation. We might be ready for goose-bump moments that make the hair on our neck stand up in a holy hush.

However, those moments might have been much more down to earth. Did you ever think, this might be it: "Not as I will, but as you will."
That might have been the recurring theme of those conversations.

God the Father says, "I need you to pour your life out and live as a servant of those around you."
Jesus replies, "I wish you'd take this path from me. But your will, not mine be done."

Maybe Christlikeness isn't as complicated as we make it. But that doesn't mean it's easy, does it?

Maybe loving God with the totality of our being and loving our neighbor as we want to be loved really is the sum of the Gospel.

I recently attended a presentation of the musical "Godspell". (Did you know "Godspell" is the archaic version of "Gospel". And did you know "Gospel" simply means "good news"?) At one point in the presentation, the Christ figure is wrestling with doing what he knows he has been called to do, or giving into demonic voices that call him to back away and take a different path.

Not so unlike the choices each of us face everyday.

Will I be kind and patient with the person who has been thoughtless and insensitive to me?
Will I exercise self-control in that area of my life that has been so out-of-control?

Someone once said, "When you come to the fork in the road, take it". I agree. Don't back away from the wrestling match or the difficult place in your life. In it you may find God's will for your life.

Grace & peace

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