Jun 15, 2007

will U

I'm always in awe of how differently people try to answer the question, "What is God's will for my life?"

Recently I've seen this played out in the lives of many close to me, whether it involves a job change, how to spend finances, where to invest their time, or relationships that may change into something greater or lesser than they were before. Sometimes we feel we owe God something and so we become busy to appease the guilt, while other times we feel God owes us something and so we become resentful waiting for Him to reveal Himself. A tricky topic, with many views on the matter.
For what it's worth, I've struggled with this whole issue from a variety of angles over the years. Sometimes I just "knew" God wanted me to do something because a set of circumstances happened in my life that "proved" it. For instance, maybe I was wondering if I should buy a blue car, "and then all of a sudden I heard someone whistling Blueberry Hill and I knew God was telling me I should buy the car." Sounds crazy, right?
Then there were those other times that the circumstances were absolutely clear... and crazy... and made no sense... which made them make perfect sense.

Sometimes we try to understand God's will through how He's working in the lives of others close to us. Maybe someone shares something tough and we have to decide if we will react in our emotions/thoughts or check in with God to see if He's speaking through the issue. For instance, when my wife and I looked into church planting in Michigan we realized into the process that it would be unhealthy for us to do this as a family based on who we were at the time. During those first few weeks after officially stopping, I wrestled with the anxiousness of having put a lot of momentum into something that had to end (and the temptation to be bitter about it, a daily choice I had to died to). In that moment, I concluded that God was speaking to me on this through my family... sounds crazy, right?

Then there was that beauty I eventually came to understand about what it means to serve God and His church within the "everyday" - without any agenda other than to love Him and love others.

I could go on with these examples, but the bottom line is that God does communicate with us using a whole range of ways to do it. What I've gleaned from all of this is that there at least three kinds of direction that He does "will" for our lives:
  • 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)


Ed G. said...

Tom - somehow wandered here and found this post... one that I may come back to read from time to time. I personally have always had a craving for purpose... and over the past few months I've taken to stopping by church in the mornings just to listen for God... and most days I hear a similar message in my soul: take care of the little things, Ed... focus on simple acts of obedience... and then (and only then) will My plans for you become clear. Anyway... thanks again for this post...

Tony Myles said...

You're welcome, Ed. Thanks for coming by...