Sometimes when you are reading or browsing or even listening, a sentence comes along that strikes a cord in your heart and mind and sends you scurrying down various rabbit trails of thought in search of an answer to the question it posed. I had such an experience this morning while visting Paul Little’s Affirming The Will Of God book page on InterVarsity’s web site. There, at the top of the page for Little’s book was this sentence.
Finding the will of God is not one isolated experience.
I had gone to the InterVarsity site dedicated to late Paul Little because of another saying attributed to him.
God cant steer a parked car.
Both of those statements refer to God’s will and both meshed in my soul today and started me thinking about what God’s will might be, specifically God’s will for my life. I wanted to be sure and apply that limited focus to my inquiry because this subject is an exceptionally broad one. You could easily say that It covers all time and history and delves into the very heart of God as well as the substance of the relationship within the Trinity. I cannot hope to deal with all of that or to be honest, even any of it, but in a small way, similar to how in fractals, the architecture and purpose expressed at one level finds its echoes at all the other levels, I have an intuitive understanding that God’s will for me and my relationship to it is an echo of all that God is and does.
While echo is not really the perfect word for what I want to say (it implies something that is not fully real, almost an accident, which is not the case), it is the best thing I have until I can come up with something better. For me at least, where it does apply is how God’s will for me is an integral part of his will for everything and everyone else and as he sends his word forth to accomplish its ends, one echo of that word is in his word, his will for me.
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. Isaiah 55.1
It will accomplish its task. With that in mind, Paul Little’s first statement is right on so many levels. Finding out God’s will for myself is not finding an isolated piece of a puzzle in a desert of endless sand, no it is finding one tile with my name on it within an infinite mosaic that encompasses all reality. It has its place, its purpose, in God’s view of what was, is, and will be.
That said, thinking this way effects how I search out the will of God in my life. I will not find it by isolated charasmatic divination, no matter how essentially spiritual my efforts may seem, because even if God should speak to me, as Jesus spoke to Paul on the Damascus Road, that is not the end, but only the beginning of the journey to understanding. What Jesus said to Paul was only part of the picture, part of his place in the mosaic of eternity. There are a few key phrases in Jesus’ words to another player in the events of that day in Paul’s life that now strike home to me.
Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.” Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” Acts 9:10-15
The will of God is not just for the moment, though there may be a decision that is necessary at a particular time and place, it is part of a larger whole so that even when you may make that decision (like Paul saying yes to Jesus on the road) it is not over but only a link in the long chain of God’s will for your life and everyone you will meet and interact with then through eternity.
At the moment Paul lay in the road, blinded, I wonder what the Philippian jailer was doing, where Lydia was conducting business, and if Timothy was even born? I could go, but you get the drift. Paul Little was right, finding the will of God does not lead you to an isolated experience but to one connection in the infinite web of God’s will for all eternity. Your decision has a place, just like that tile has a place in the mosaic. Nothing you do is without consequence, without ripples that will take eternity to understand, since at the moment they are only understood in the mind and will of God.
So, when I now approach God about what his will is for my life, I think I will focus only on one decision at a time and leave the complexity of figuring out the future ramifications to him. What do you want me to do today, Lord? How about right now? So in a way I have come full circle, from isoated moments to interconnected eternals and now back to single decisions. However, even though I will focus on single decisions I cannot ever forget how each one of these decisions are interdependent with all the other decesions going on throughout the eternal web of God’s will. My job, that easy now, just make the right decision for the moment and let God deal with all the rest.
May the peace that passes all understanding guard you heart and your mind in the assurance of your salvation in Jesus Christ and may you trust God in each decision to know what is best and what must be done to make everything turn out right in the end, after all he’s God and that’s his job.