Have you ever found yourself wondering what it all means or where do I fit in the grand scheme of things? Does God have a plan and if so, what is my role?
I’m sure that there are dozens of variations on these questions that each of us ponders upon during the season of our lives. At the end of the day I believe we all want to have led lives of significance that will make our heavenly Father happy. We want to hear the words “Well done, my good and faithful servant; enter into the joy of the Lord” (Matthew 25:21)
I have been encouraged and confused over the years by sermons and teachings on the will of God, calling of God, plan of God and timing of God in and for my life. It is especially encouraging and even exciting to know that the God of creation created each of us for a purpose. It gives our lives meaning and causes us to have sincere hope and faith for the future. On the other side of the coin if you are unsure what your purpose is you can be left in a state of flux, wondering if you are in or out of the will of God. I am pretty sure that I am not the only one who has left a service wondering (or wandering) when the due time or due season for God’s perfect will, plan or purpose for my life will be revealed. The Bible teaches that we are here for a reason and that God created us for a unique and special purpose. We read verses like this:
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. (Jeremiah 1:5)
The bible also places a lot of emphasis on free will, faith and our personal choices in life. There are many things in this world that are beyond our ability to control but there remains a significant amount of things in our lives that are the direct result of decisions that we have made. God may have a plan for our lives but we also have a responsibility to respond to Him in faith and obedience. We are not the preprogrammed drones of heaven. We are the creations of God in whom He has endowed free will. How we respond to God determines at what level His plan, purpose and will for our lives can and will be executed. We read verses like this:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)
As humans it seems almost natural to want to avoid as much responsibility as possible. Having to stand by our choices and live with the consequences, whether good or bad, is a very sobering thing. It is also a very biblical principle. It is frequently referred to as seedtime and harvest throughout the scriptures and cause and effect in modern times.
I have choices. You have choices. Our lives are filled with decisions that have led us to be the person we are today. Thankfully the grace of God has countermanded the eternal consequences of many of our bad decisions but nevertheless we still experience the temporal realities of what we have chosen or decided so far in our lives.
I have a calling. You have a calling. Our lives are also filled with a potential and purpose from heaven. The sooner we respond to the gospel and begin faithfully following Jesus Christ the sooner we come into contact with God’s will for our life.
It is one of the more challenging things for many of us to come to terms with in our lives; decisions and destiny.
There are many things in the bible that speak of the plan, purpose and will of God. We serve the Almighty. He is omniscient as well as omnipotent. He is never taken by surprise nor is He ever faced with a situation that is beyond His ability to handle. There is much about divinity that we must only speculate about. We can quote scripture, pray and even be used by God to help other people but true understanding of God is something far beyond any of our abilities of comprehension. Simply stated: He is God and we are not.
I am not promoting the theology of an absentee God who does not interact with us. On the contrary, Christianity is founded upon the principle that God loves us and desires relationship with us. My point is simply that even through redemption and the infilling of the Holy Spirit we are still limited in our comprehension of God based upon our humanity. Our experiences while valid are limited because of our humanity. The Apostle Paul writes that it is like seeing a reflection or only knowing part of the story.
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)
We know that God knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). We know that God has picked the day on which He will judge the world (Matthew 24:36). We also find verses that grant us authority and freedom in our lives:
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8)
I tell you the truth, whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven. I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them. (Matthew 18:18-20)
Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
These verses place the imperative upon us as people. God has opened the door for salvation and demands a response from us. Our choice of faith or unbelief is the deciding factor. God has issued a command to “Go” and preach the gospel to all of us who are believers. Our choice of obedience or apathy is once again the determining factor. God has a plan and is accomplishing that plan in the earth today. He has invited us to participate through faith and obedience or in simpler language by making the right decisions.
We already have the end of the story. We know how the book ends. We know that God has a plan, purpose and will for our lives. Where does that leave us? Do we have in the matter? Is life a series of decisions or is it the product of divine destiny?
The bible teaches us both. Pardon the pun but there is no decision to make on this one. You and I have been created with a divine destiny and our decisions matter.
Faith involves believing and accepting the truth and plan of God but faith also involves believing and obeying.
Here is one conversation from the 1999 film “The Matrix” concerning the subject:
Morpheus: Do you believe in fate, Neo?
Morpheus: Why not?
Neo: Because I don’t like the idea that I’m not in control of my life.
Are we in control of our lives or is providence at work?
As Christians we have surrendered our lives to Jesus Christ so that He may come to live inside of us and make us like Him.
My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
As a New Year begins we have the opportunity to choose how we will live this year.
Choose to love the LORD your God and to obey him and commit yourself to him, for he is your life. Then you will live long in the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (Deuteronomy 30:20)
Choose my instruction rather than silver, and knowledge over pure gold. (Proverbs 8:10)
Choose a good reputation over great riches, for being held in high esteem is better than having silver or gold. (Proverbs 22:1)
Teach your children to choose the right path, and when they are older, they will remain upon it. (Proverbs 22:6)
Destiny and providence are the work of God and our faith in Jesus Christ validates that we trust Him to complete and fulfill that which He has promised. Faith and faithfulness means believing, following and obeying the Bible and the leading of the Holy Spirit.
God has His part of the equation under control. You and I are responsible to live our lives but we are not living them alone.
If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them. (John 14:15-21)
Christianity has a destiny (heaven) but it is first and foremost a relationship with God. Relationships may be divine in their destiny but they are built upon moments in time and the decisions that are made by those in the relationship. Here are the easiest ways for each of us to have a great relationship with God:
Study and practice the Word of God
Pray and listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit
Do those things that the Bible says we should
Don’t do the things that the Bible says we should not
When you don’t know the answer or know what to do – Ask God
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. (James 1:5)
Take the limits off of your living. Choose to be the person the bible says you can be today. The New Covenant is not about restricting the believer but empowering the believer. We have been empowered by grace and the Holy Spirit to live lives that are pleasing to God.
May the kingdom of God grow within you and through you this year more than it ever has. I pray that each of us would have ears to hear what God is saying and boldness of faith to act upon what we hear.