On God’s Will

Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond

Not long ago I found myself in a very bad place, through my own fault. It led me to a great deal of soul searching and praying, eventually bringing me to a much better place in my walk with God. While I was there I heard a lot of preachers and they talked a lot about God’s will: How God has a plan for my life; About his perfect will and his permissive will; About how it is, or is not, his will that I was where I was. So much discussion, hair-splitting—and for what? Would I have been better off if I had understood the fine distinctions thy made? Would it have changed where I was or what I had to do?

No! I am now convinced that all of that talk was just either foolishness or vanity. And, in fact, I have grave problems with the whole idea of God’s “plan”.

If God has this kind of detailed, step-by-step plan for my life then did it include me being in that position, and thus, by extension, include the sin that got me there? But if I sinned according to God’s will, how was it sin? He has convinced me that it was sin (and has forgiven me for it!), so it could not have been his will. Therefore my being there was not part of his plan and I have broken his plan! Am I therefore doomed? Is God’s larger plan ruined? Or has he changed, adapted his plan? But surely the idea that God has to continually update his plans because of us is ridiculous—what happened to God’s omniscience?

The problem, of course, is not God’s but ours. We simply are too limited to truly understand omniscience, or how God experiences time, or the ways that the Holy Spirit can move in and n us. When we try to create ways of talking about such things we must ever be aware that we are dealing with parable and metaphor, not doctrine, images, not facts.

So can we say nothing with any surety? No, indeed—we can very firmly state all of the things that are vital to us. When it comes to God’s will, there are only, I believe, two things that we need to know, two facts that form a complete and sufficient basis for a holy life.

First, God does, indeed, have a plan for our lives. Whether that plan is mapped out in detail in God’s mind or not, I neither know nor care. I do know that his plan is to conform each of us to the image of his son. That is the goal, how he gets me there is his business, not mine, as is when he will get me there. All I need to know is that wherever I am, whatever I have done, there is a path that will get me from where I am to that goal that the Holy Spirit can guide me along. And no matter how badly I might mess up, how far off that path I might wander, there will still be a path that will get from where I am to that goal, if only I will follow.

The second thing I must know is that God is bringing to me all the people and situations that I need to take the next step along that path. If I walk always open to these gifts—what Jean-Pierre de Caussade called the “sacrament of the present moment”—if I seek to move always, only, at the prompting of the Spirit, then I am doing all that is required of me and I can rest assured that I shall see the next step when I get to it.

What peace and contentment are here! I do not need to spend hours agonizing over decisions, trying to see years ahead, worrying if, perchance, I have missed God’s “best”. It is God’s job, not mine, to have concern for such things. My job is simply to take care of the thing in front of me: Sufficient unto the day!

This, then, is the essence of a truly holy life: To respond to that which God is putting before me right now, secure in the knowledge that through this little step he is bringing me nearer to the goal, to the day when I shall come into the stature of the fullness of Christ.

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One Response to “On God’s Will”

  1. the spirit of agonizing conflict and the spirit of holiness « JRFibonacci's blog: partnering with reality Says:

    […] On God’s Will (thoughtfulspirituality.wordpress.com) […]

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