January 2, 2011

The Will of God (Three sides of the same coin)

What's God's Plan for You?
It isn't hard to discern God's intentional will for his creation. He created a beautiful garden for the humans; he gave them full run and enjoyment of the garden. They didn't have to work hard; they knew no sin. Jesus said something of the same idea in John's Gospel when He is talking about being the Good Shepard. (John 10:1-18 NIV). I particularly like the second half of verse 10.
 "...I have come that they (the sheep, us) may have life and have it to the full."
 (the King James Version says ...have it more abundantly.)

I believe God's intention was for us to have a full and abundant life. But God also wanted us to

have the ability to make our own decisions and not be mindless robots. And so God's intentional will for His creatures was put on hold. 

We make their own decisions which are often different from the decisions God would have us make.  So we get ourselves into circumstances which may not be in our best interest. As a result, we often need to ask for God's will to be done in our circumstance.  Unfortunately, we want to remain in control by telling God how to work in our situation. 'Now God, I've gotten myself in this poor financial situation. I want you to help me win the lottery so I can get out of trouble." That's too simple an example, but we do the same thing with all the problems of our life. 

If you have the courage and the faith, you will pray that God keep you in His will and whatever He decides to do, you will accept and be happy with it.  With this extreme faith in the
goodness of God and with the understanding that God's will is for you to have an abundant and full life, you will fall into the circumstantial will of God. The circumstantial will of God is God working within the framework of the circumstances in which you find yourself.

Perhaps some of the circumstances of my life can illustrate. I decided to go to one college, flunked out and went to another college where I excelled academically and socially. I met my first wife (23 years and two daughters) and got my first taste of being a part time minister. I began a career in teaching but got greedy and left to become an engineering consultant. After six unsatisfying years and three job changes within engineering, I was fired.  We had two daughters, one having been born just four months prior. The path I was on was not the path God wanted for me, so He slapped me in the face and made me change course. God brought my little family back to Nashville and began me on a path which included sales, teaching a young adult Sunday school class and serving in the church.  During this time, I was also able to continue serving God as a part time pastor in several small churches in the area.  But God wanted me to take a different path. He slapped me again when my wife asked for a divorce.  then He lead me to my second wife and her three children.  This time I got it right. It also led me to my current church and the opportunity to serve God more.

God worked with me within the situations in which I put myself. When I made decisions that took me in paths God did not want me to take, He slapped me back into the path He wanted.  I flunked out of college, got fired from a job (actually two jobs), was divorced and still God kept me in His will. Each time I gave God a lemon for my life, he made lemonade for me.  And I continue to trust Him to keep me in His will.  When I quit telling Him what I wanted Him to do and began to trust Him to do what was best for me, I began to live an abundant life.

An illustration from nature might work best. Rain falls on the mountain tops and it accumulates in a pool, over flows the pool and runs down one of the hundreds of small streams on the side of the mountain to the river at the bottom. Perhaps a family of beavers will chance upon the stream and decide to build a nest in a small dam across the creek.  Under the circumstances, the beavers will stop the flow of the that particular creek down the mountain. But we all know what happens.  The water builds up and slowly seeps around the beaver's dam and continues down the mountain. Like God's will, the intention was for the water to flow down the mountain to the river below. The circumstances of the beaver's dam diverted the intention of the water. But the circumstance did not keep the water from reaching it's ultimate goal, the river below.

The circumstances of our lives, pain, death, divorce, financial pain, discrimination, suffering, and all the unpleasant events of life can be endured when we understand God's desire is for us to have an abundant life and our circumstances, whether caused by us or caused by evil in the world, can not stop God's will from ultimately being done in our life. The intentional, the circumstantial and the ultimate will of God are all within the broad phrase the Will of God.

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