Lots of people talk about God’s will like it proclaims itself from a burning bush or comes to us in a dream.
Maybe it happens this way for some people, but not for me, and I’m guessing it doesn’t happen that way for many of you. God’s will seems so obvious in Bible stories, but real life feels more like many of the Psalms; a constant ebb and flow of knowing and having all we think we know shatter on the rocks of reality.
We often find ourselves waiting on the edge of a decision before we start talking about God’s will. God’s will is really more like a lifestyle, an attitude we must choose, not necessarily a decision we must make. It is being in relationship with Him, praying, reading and struggling. Talking and listening. Praying and struggling again.
Yet, we still want to determine what God would have us do with certainty, because moving without a “God sanctioned” plan can be so scary. By virtue of the world we live in, some decisions have to be made on the spot — with or without any real sense of direction. Sometimes no amount of praying yields answers, and if all we are looking for is an answer to our question, we ought to change our focus.
I have had to constantly wrestle my desire for the big picture, at least when it comes to life-changing decisions. I’m a thinker, always living in anticipation of what I will need to do and how to make it happen. And it’s all very knee-jerk, sometimes I try very hard to avoid anticipating the “what” and “how,” yet find myself with not just one plan but a couple back-ups as well.
Here’s something a true big picture oriented person can tell you: relying on the big picture is not trusting God with your future and sacrificing the present for a time you don’t even have.
Clint Eastwood made a movie in the late nineties called Absolute Power. One of his lines is, “Tomorrow belongs to no one.” James, brother to Jesus, wrote something a couple thousand years ago about life being like a morning fog, which is here today and gone tomorrow. The only time we are given in this life is this very moment.
We can’t know God’s will in concrete and certain terms. It is so much bigger than all we think we know. We have no idea what the big picture looks like and it will never be fully realized until we can see our lives as God does. Maybe we will see our lives as God does when we are with Him in eternity, or maybe at that point it won’t matter. Who knows?
My church has spent years wandering, wondering, in the wilderness, remaining faithful to the only thing we’ve known to do: exist. We’ve been praying, talking, sharing, hoping…waiting, more faithfully sometimes than at other times, to have a direction for our church. We began the process knowing we would not have immediate answers. We wanted to be careful not to make snap decisions or decisions out of fear. I think we’ve been waiting for a concrete answer. Any answer.
It makes me believe we will have to step into a new kind of uncomfortable, acting without knowing how it will all work out. We’ve continued to do what we’ve been doing without knowing, the familiar kind of uncomfortable, and here we are…existing. We don’t know what kind of future is before us, and we must make a number of decisions, shaping that future forever. Zero ultimate control. Zero certainty.
Isaiah and Jeremiah refer to God as The Potter who knows our purpose intimately, as He forms us, the clay, using every circumstance for good; the fear in every un-trod step and the guilt in every misstep. God is the One to whom all our tomorrows belong. Our self-shapings do not have the final say.
God designed us to be in relationship with Him and to love others. We know He is for us, will never leave us, will always provide for us, and will bless us. He has promised. The terms and the manifestation of His promises in my life, in yours, in the life of my church, are unknown. Accept the unknown. Instead of anticipating how to meet your own needs, let God meet them. And instead of anticipating when or how God will provide, simply expect Him to provide. Expect to see Him at work. Expect Him to love you, and He will be hard to miss.