One of our mistakes as Christians is to believe that we, you and I, are in control and that we should have the ultimate decision as to who we are, what we do, where we live, and how we live. Not really what James 4.13-15 says however.
And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, “Today – at the latest, tomorrow – we’re off to such and such a city for the year. We’re going to start a business and make a lot of money.” You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. Instead, make it a habit to say, “If the Master wills it and we’re still alive, we’ll do this or that.”
According to St Augustine, this mistake comes out of one sin which can lead to all other sin, namely pride. CS Lewis describes the process of this as “a creature trying to set up on its own and exist for itself” (my paraphrase). This pride has the effect of causing rebellion, resistance, unwillingness, and ultimately opposition to God.
So our constant choice is do we seek God, and by inference, God’s will as stated in the Bible, or do we seek self; do we seek our Creator, or do we seek the created.
Left to our own devices, we will choose whatever has the strongest pull on us, but God loves us and wants the best for us. If you need reminding of this wonderful truth, check out Eph 1. 3-6
How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.
Romans 8.26-30 tells us that God’s desire for our good means he doesn’t leave us to cope alone.
26-28 Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.
29-30 God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.
Because of His great love for us, we want to love God, to be like Jesus and to minister like Jesus even when we don’t feel like it. But each day is a challenge to lay down our pride, rebellion, self-seeking, self-will and to seek the Father, to constantly turn to Him every moment of the day. Some days we will do better than others. As CS Lewis says we about to, are, or are repenting of turning away from God all the time.
And within that general will for us, God has a specific requirement for each one of us. Because we are unique, individual, and special, God has specific and personal things for each one of us to do, everyday. He has bought each one of our lives, so he owns our relationships, responsibilities, locations, abilities, and time. We therefore each have our own personal responsibility before God to be willing to allow Him to make us what He wants us to be, and put us where He wants to put us each day of our lives. Our job is simple. Each morning, we give Him our day, ask for guidance in what we have to do, and determine to turn back to Him whenever we realise we have turned away. This is the process of salvation changing us and making us more like our Friend and Master, little by little.
All Bible quotes from The Message © Eugene H Peterson
© Paul Wood