“Being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God’s will.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God’s will will be done. If we choose to cooperate with it, life will be much easier than if we oppose it.
Pharaoh is an example to look at. It was God’s will to free the Israelites from Egyptian slavery and to send them back to the land he had promised Abraham and his descendants generations earlier. Pharaoh didn’t see it that way and decided to fight against God’s plan. The result was complete devastation of Egypt and, eventually, the release of the Israelites as God had planned all along. It was going to happen. Pharaoh could make it easy or hard for his people. He made it hard, but God’s will was done in the end.
God makes his general will very clear in the Bible. We are to be faithful to him, to love him and our neighbor, to forgive as he has forgiven us, to love justice, and to practice mercy. It’s also his will that all people come to a knowledge of the truth and experience his salvation (1 Timothy 2:4). We can help fulfill that part of his will by sharing with others what we know to be true about God and his redemptive plan.
Next time we pray, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”, know that it will be as he has willed. We have a choice, though: We can fight it, or we can cooperate with it. We all know which is better!
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”– Romans 12:2
My daughters and I had planned a trip to walk 100 km of the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain. But that was 2020, Covid loomed, and our plans were put on hold. Late in 2020, one daughter faced a health crisis, and we realized walking 12 to 18 miles a day wouldn’t be possible for her (maybe not for me either!). So we decided that, instead of being pilgrims on the Camino, we would be tourists visiting Barcelona, Valencia, and Seville. Just days before our planned departure, Spain changed its entrance requirements and we had to cancel our plans
We scouted the internet to see what we could sign up for at the last minute and found a great resort in Mexico. We made the trek to spend a week together under the sun and along the sea. It was wonderful! When we came home, I told my husband about the trip: relaxed pace, beautiful surroundings, good food, and great conversations. His response? “It sounds like your Plan C was God’s Plan A.”
Has that ever happened to you? You thought you knew what you wanted, but ran up against obstacle after obstacle. Then God surprised you with a new plan, and you realize his was much better than yours. When we yield ourselves to him, he sometimes has gifts for us we never would have dreamed of on our own. So, even when we’re frustrated, let’s trust him to have the best plan!
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,to him be glory . . . – Ephesians 3:20-21
“Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight . . .Please show me your glory.” (Moses to God in Exodus 33:13 and 18)
There sure are a lot of problems in our world. Every now and then I try to think of ways to solve them. Last week I hit upon a solution – something that would take care of a lot of the these issues in a moment’s time. So I prayed all that day, off and on as I went about my activities, that God would just give a glimpse of himself to everyone in this world. Just a peek at who he is – some revelation of his glory, power, justice, majesty, awesomeness. That’s all it would take, I thought, to set things right.
But, his answer to that day-long, murmuring prayer came to me in my Bible reading the next morning, “You do not know what you are asking” (from Mark 10:38). Of course he was right. I have no idea what it would mean for God’s glory to be revealed to the whole world. Maybe it would set everything right. Maybe it would create a chaos I cannot fathom. I had to acknowledge that sometimes my prayers are wise and sometimes foolish. Maybe I should resist giving God advice and accept that he has a plan I don’t understand.
Something inside me still wants a glimpse of him for myself – even if not for the whole world. The more I know of him, the more I want of him. And I know I’m not the only one. You, too?
“The deepest longing of the human heart is to know and enjoy the glory of God. We were made for this.” ~ John Piper
Have you ever had your love for someone shaken? You heard about the affair. You found out what a friend said to another person about you. Your children turn away in anger. Human love sometimes does not survive these deep hurts.
God’s love is different – it never gives up. Peter denied Jesus, but Jesus did not for even a moment stop loving Peter. Jonah was angry at God’s mercy toward Ninevah. God planted a bush so he would have shade. Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s one prohibition. He provided a sacrificial covering for them. God’s love for his own children is unshakable.
Don’t get me wrong. We should not test that love – the Bible is clear about that, too. If we live outside of his boundaries, God will bring discipline into our lives to draw us back into companionship with him. We are far better off living in sync with him than wandering away. But, when we do stray, his love follows us – always.
The security for us is that God loves us because of who he is, not because of who we are. When we hurt him, he still loves. He forgives. He restores. That’s what he does. He just asks that the intent of our hearts is loving him back.
Still not convinced? Take is from Paul inspired words, then: “I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us“. (Romans 8:38-39 The Message).
“God loves you unconditionally, as you are and not as you should be, because nobody is as they should be.” – Brennan Manning
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9
I was anticipating a situation that made me anxious. When that happens, I find it helpful to pray about it. So, I began a prayer telling God all the reasons I had to be stressed about this meeting and then, as it dawned on me who I was talking to, the prayer reverted to something like this:
Me: Are you afraid? Jesus: No. Me: Then I won’t be either (pause). Are you stressed? Jesus: Nope. Me: Then I won’t be either (pause). Are you worried about what happens next? Jesus: Not a bit. Me: Then, me either.
That might seem like a silly prayer exercise, but focusing on God’s serenity calmed me. If we believe that God not only knows what will happen in any given situation, but is actively involved in bringing about the consequences he desires, then we can relax. To the extent we are following him, our outcomes will be exactly what he wants them to be.
Sometimes the question for us is this: Are we content with that? Are we willing to accept his will for us as good? Or will we fight against it? When we have a predetermined outcome in mind, we get anxious. When we commit to being happy with what God has designed, we relax into his plan.
God does have a plan. He’s in control of every situation. He’s not anxious. Why should we be?
“If the Lord be with us, we have no cause of fear. His eye is upon us, His arm over us, His ear open to our prayer – His grace sufficient, His promise unchangeable.” – John Newton
“When your will is God’s will, you will have your will.” – Charles Spurgeon
One time, as I prayed for God to show me his will, his answer was not what I expected. It went something like this in my mind:
My will is for you to get to know me better. My will is for you to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. But, don’t worry. It’s more like “flowing through” than control. I want you to know me so well and to be so aligned with me that operating under the Spirit’s control will be as natural as breathing.
I do not control by force or coercion. I control by uniting my very self to you and, as we become one, my will and your will coincide. Not force, but flow. That’s my will for you.
As I considered this messsage, I realized that we, as God’s children, need to focus on one thing: getting to know him. Some of us have been learning about him for a long time now by reading the Bible, exploring creation, observing his activities in the world, sharing our hearts and lives with him day-by-day, and listening for his response. We all have a long way to go in our journey to knowing God, but everything we’ve learned about him so far should make us more able to give him control – to allow his personality, perceptions, and passion to flow through us every day.
When we do that, we don’t have to ask as often what his will is. The closer we stay to God, the more we are simply living his will day-by-day.
“. . . be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” – Romans 12:2