- God's eternal will: The Lord has a divine desire that we would be in healthy connection with Him - recognizing He's God (to be worshipped) and we're His (to be loved... or beloved). This isn't something that just happens when we die, nor is it something merely religious we're supposed to just do on this side of heaven. Eternal life is not just something that happens when we physically die but involves living now in the unending presence of the Trinity.
- God's everyday will: Being a Christ-follower means we don't just make 90 minutes on a Sunday morning our spiritual time but we daily attend to whatever the Holy Spirit asks of us. At times this means reaching out to someone new, while other times it's supporting those we regularly bump into. The key is to keep our radar up - like last week when I was at the bank and the pregnant lady waiting on me mentioned to her co-worker she was thirsty for a caffiene-free Diet Coke... and I had this sense like buying her a caffiene-free Diet Coke was a spiritual thing... and so I did, and then I told my wife I did this for accountability to keep our marriage a spiritual thing.
- God's vocational will: Our slice of Adam's charge in Genesis to work the ground and tame the earth. For ministers/pastors, this is what we call "professional ministry" - for non-clergy, it is whatever world you are regularly in and caring for... from cubicle world and the carpool lane to the daily laundry and weekly landscaping. This is the area of life that we feel we're able to scratch the itches of lasting purpose and ongoing provision.
I don't know if you can identify with this, but I have often found that when that last category wasn't settled or active in the way I wanted, I didn't know what to do with myself.
Have you ever noticed how much energy we spend trying to figure out where to spend our energy?
Then all of a sudden I realized the beauty of the first and second categories of God's will... and how if we are doing them the third will take care of itself. Often we skip over those two areas because we want to find value in doing something... and along the way we forget what it means to simply serve in responsiveness (and not just because of a job description).
Personally... I am in a much more secure place in my identity in Christ having gone through some shredding the past two years that I didn't want but absolutely needed. Pruning is never fun, but by losing parts of yourself you thought you needed you realize what is really required for each of us to grow. It's only on the other side that any of that makes any sense, and even then... it doesn't always.
Yet one thing is clear... God has a will for each of us today that is good, even if it does mean we sacrifice what we think we want for what we really want
Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21)
For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. (John 6:38)