Tag Archive: the will of God


“And then God opened a door for me and I met “The One” and I was truly blessed and…

…everyone lives happily ever after? 

Do you ever get the urge to slap christians for speaking like this? i most definitely do!

Sometimes i just want to slap christians on the head. And sometimes i realise the well-meaning christian needing a slap might just be me.

Cos i might not use those particular words but i’m pretty sure there is other jargonese [like the word ‘christianese’ – urgh – SLAP!] that i slip into that makes other friends of mine want to slap me on the head.

And probably not just other christians either…

Hermann, who sometimes writes racist-sounding-comments on my blog, thinks i use the term ‘blown away’ too much:

You tend to use the phrase, “blown away” a lot. Every time I read it, I think of you being blown away like a feather – it implies that you are not very grounded. It sounds very cliched – used a lot by Christians. It may also have other meanings – lets not go there..

He wasn’t too fond of my use of the word ‘intentional’ either:

You use the word “intentional” a lot. Everything everyone does is intentional. By saying this, you imply that the rest of us act as zombies with no free will. If for example I spend R200 on a bottle of whiskey, it is my intention. If I give it to the poor, it is my intention. Everything we all do is always intentional so no need to mention it.

Hermann is quite direct when it comes to suggesting the way forward for me in this regard:

Please get those words out of your blog.

Well, at least he did say “please”. [Although do you think it was intentional?]

OPEN DOORS? OR CLOSED DOORS AND OPEN WINDOWS? 

door

i think this may be one of the ones that gets to me. listening christian types talking about God opening a door for them when it comes to being accepted into college or getting funds for a short-term missions trip or starting a relationship with someone.

i don’t think i’ve ever heard someone tell a story about going to the shops… “And then God opened a door for me as I saw a hungry person sitting outside of the store and knew that God was telling me to ask them what they wanted for lunch and I went in and bought them a meal with my own money.”

i HAVE heard quite a number of people tell me stories about buying people they meet in the street lunch, but i can’t recall any of those ever being a ‘God opened a door for me’ story.

Maybe that’s just cos all of those stories are simple obedience stories – doing what God already opened many doors for us to do when He shared His will with us [much of which i cover in this post on The Will of God]

SO WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR GOD TO OPEN A DOOR FOR US THEN?

Well, i’m not sure that He does.

i tend to find more stories in the Bible of God closing doors.

i think of Balaam and the donkey [Numbers 22]

i am reminded of David wanting to build the temple for God [2 Samuel 7]

James and John’s mom trying to strike a deal with Jesus for them to be able to sit at His left and right hand side when He is king [Matthew 20]

and i’m sure there are more and i’m sure other people could name a bunch of stories that they think are clear illustrations that God DOES in fact open doors and how could i be so stupid as to think otherwise. But i am less concerned with that right now.

The story i really DO like on this topic though [yes, Hermann who scribes racist thoughts, it blows my mind!] is this one, which can be found intentionally in Acts 16:

Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. 

What is interesting is that there is no real commentary on the story and so we have to kinda fill in the blanks a little. But what it LOOKS like is that Paul and his companions tried to do a bunch of stuff.

They tried to preach the word in the province of Asia – but the Holy Spirit stopped them somehow [gut feel? word of prophecy? hint or a nudge?]

They tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.

What i absolutely LOVE about this story is that the whole Trinity seems to get involved to make sure it happens right.

We don’t know why God stopped them, but they try a bunch of stuff and He does.

And then maybe the most hysterical part of the whole story is the fact that the “Yes” comes while Paul is sleeping. [so i guess this whole story could be interpreted the complete opposite way as in Paul was doing a bunch of stuff and God needed to slow him down and then stop him completely before He was able to tell Paul what He wanted him to do].

But i like the idea of Paul trying something – door closes. Paul tries something else – another door closes. Paul keeps on trying stuff [and it’s important to note the “stuff” he is trying is “kingdom stuff” – he’s not just farting into a sock here] and the doors keep on closing. Finally God speaks to Paul clearly and Paul obeys.

Does God open doors? Kind of, i think, but not so much in the way we like to talk about it:

i want a child, but we can’t fall pregnant – could an open door be the thousands of parentless babies desperate for a family who will take them in and call them their own?

i want a girlfriend, but the girl i like doesn’t like me back – could an open door be finding contentment in singleness for the moment and taking advantage of everything that goes with that?

i want to know God’s will for my life – might an open door be the homeless shelter just three blocks away from your house that is looking for volunteers, the local prison ministry looking for people who will write letters to inmates and simply be their friends, the old peoples’ home that is desperate for young [and older] people who will come and have conversations or play games or read stories to their people?

So many open doors, so little time…

And surely, the God we serve is big enough to close a door if we are earnestly heading for a wrong one?[even if He has to pull in the other members of the Trinity to do so!]

Let’s stop waiting for open doors and start living obediently.

i remember a prayer Keith Green’s wife Melody challenged her audience to pray after one particular talk:

[1] God, i will go anywhere You want me to go

[2] God, i will do anything You want me to do

If you want to see doors open quickly, that is a dangerous and liberating prayer to pray as you start each new day. Especially if you mean it.

What are your thoughts on the whole ‘Open Door’ vibe? 

“I’m not sure what God’s will is for my life!”

i hear this a lot, or some other version of it. And i have spoken about/written on this before, but feels like a good time to bring it up.

YES, YOU NAILED IT, GOD WANTED THAT BABY TO GET SICK AND DIE

possibly the worst scenario this plays out in is when someone gets an incurably disease or a person dies and somebody who is chatting to a friend or family member of the dying or dead person has a moment of well-meaning panic and blurts out, “It was God’s will.”

No, No, No, No, NO! It may have been God’s will that you were a moron [debatable] but i don’t believe that sickness or death was ever God’s will. Not according to His book at least – both sickness and death entered the world after mankind decided to turn its back on God and try and do things for themselves [a game we’ve been playing – badly – ever since].

and it might be good for you to take a moment and think through the ramifications of telling someone that it was God’s will that their baby died because the way you say it, if you join all the dots in all the right [or wrong] ways, it comes out sounding like you are saying, “God wanted your baby to die.” And that doesn’t sound very much like a God anyone would choose to serve.

CAUSES vs. ALLOWS

however, at the same time, i must add the piece that says that i do believe that God ALLOWS people to die [of course He does, if He can create the Universe in a breath or over a millions-of-years period, then surely He has the ability to stop every person from dying] and that i think for some people, this is seen as pretty much the same as He causes all people to die. and that, when a baby dies at birth for example, it is an idea worth much wrestling over to hold on lightly to the idea that ‘God allowed this baby to die.’ Especially when it is ‘God allowed my baby to die.’

i do believe there is a very significant distinction between CAUSES and ALLOWS though, maybe for another post, and that the latter of those is not an easy thing to work through when it becomes personal.

but IF we live in a world with a God and IF we live in a world where there is an enemy of God [in some shape or way or form – that some might refer to as the devil] who has troops or forces of his own [and some measure of power in using them] and IF we live in a world where people have free will, or some measure of it… then we cannot blame everything on God because there are at least three different forces or people or groups at work at any one time.

stupidhappensforareason

SO HOW DOES GOD’S WILL WORK THEN?

This is how i understand God’s will to work and it makes a lot of sense to me through my reading of the bible which i see as God’s Word to us.

I describe it as there being two kinds of will in the Bible – God’s general will and God’s specific will.

SPECIFIC WILL: Moses gets a call from God. God tells him to go and tell Pharaoh to ‘Let My people go!’ – Through a series of encounters Moses does that and eventually comes to a point where Pharaoh tells Moses that he can take the people and leave. It was a specific request or commandment or mission that went directly to Moses and no one else.

GENERAL WILL: For the rest of the hundreds of thousands of Israelites, they get a message that they are leaving tomorrow and the choice of coming or not. There is nothing to suggest that each one of them got a specific message from God calling them to follow Moses and leave Egypt. For them it was a general message that covered everyone ad that everyone got to choose to respond to in some way.

The stories that stand out for us in the Bible are those of a Specific Will nature, but if you look carefully, you will see that for the majority of the people, General Will was all that they were faced with. David and Daniel and the prophets get a Specific Will message from God which they then deliver to the people who receive it as General Will and choose how they will respond.

Crowds of people follow Jesus, but He chooses twelve of them and even within the twelve there are a few Specific Will assignments for just Peter, James and John.

BUT DOES GOD CARE ABOUT THE COLOUR OF MY SOCKS?

i have heard some people get so pedantic about God’s will for their life – i asked God this morning what clothes to wear and what breakfast cereal to eat and…STOPPIT, you’re embarrassing us!

but more importantly, i believe that you might be missing the point. and one of the biggest points in the question of ‘WHAT IS GOD’S WILL FOR MY LIFE?’ is that in so many ways, He has already answered that question for you.

a person may open their cupboard and choose one jacket [out of the 4 jackets they have] and get dressed and leave their two bedroom house [that just one couple is living in] and walk past a homeless person begging at the side of the road on their way to buy a ridiculously overpriced coffee [and a brand where the particular farmer involved in that process receives a pittance for his work] on their way to work [for a greedy multinational-corporation which is exploiting its cleaning staff] and spend the day asking God what His will is for their lives. And God sighs quietly to Himself [cos He has tried being louder and more obvious but with no great effect], ‘Why don’t you just open your eyes a little.’

THE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION: WHAT IS GOD’S WILL FOR MY LIFE?

This may come as a shock to some of you and you will hardly believe me when i announce it, but i know absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt what God’s will is for your life. Does that surprise you? Do you not believe me? Well, open your mind and give this crackpot a chance to explain…

I know absolutely that God’s will for your life is… that you love Him with all your heart, soul, strength and mind… and that you love your neighbour as yourself [Matthew 22.37-40]

I know for a fact that God’s will for your life is… that you forgive everyone who has hurt you in any way [Matthew 6.14-15]

I know that it is God’s will for you to make disciples of all nations, baptising them and teaching them everything Jesus taught us [Matthew 28.18-20]

I know that it is God’s will to not just listen to the word’s of Jesus, but to actively live them out [James 1.22, Matthew 7.24] and to look after orphans and children [James 1.27]

I know that God’s will for your life is to reach out to those who are marginalised and considered to be the least of these, which in Jesus day were those who were hungry, thirsty, sick and in prison and who in our day may be those who are refugees and sex trafficking offenders and victims and more.

Do i need to go on? Each one of those things [and there are more] are God’s General Will for anyone who calls themselves a follower of Jesus [as well as the ‘deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow Me Jesus gave to us in Luke 9.23 – have you taken up your cross today?]

So the answer to your ‘How do i know God’s will for my life?’ question is READ YOUR BIBLE and read it for understanding, or get someone to explain it to you [Acts 8.26-40] if you’ve been reading it for years and not realised all of this.

God has revealed so much of His general will which is for everyone who follows Him. Get that right and finished and then you are more than welcome to start asking for more will from Him. But i suspect He has given us more than enough for a lifetime [and will that is so much easier to accomplish when we do it together, in community]

SO WHERE IS THE SPECIFIC WILL?

Well this is maybe where it gets a little less obvious or a little more tricky as interpretation of scripture definitely comes into play. If you are part of the group that doesn’t believe the Holy Spirit operates any more and that the gifts of the Spirit were only for the people during Jesus’ time then you are going to have to stick with General Will [which, as pointed out, will keep you busy]. But if you believe, like i do, that the Holy Spirit comes and lives inside us and prompts us and directs us and speaks to us and sometimes through us, then that has to lave the door open for Specific Will – i don’t know how to explain that as well as a lot of it for me feels like gut feel or stepping out in faith or taking a chance and hoping it was God, but as i do those things more and more – as i create space for God to speak to me and really try to listen and as i take moments to ask, ‘God is there something you would have me say or do here?’ i see it happen and i step out and i have come to learn through my experiences some ways in which the Spirit does lead and prompt and guide and just try my best to be faithful and obedient to those [while continuing to carry out God’s General Will]

i hope this has been helpful for some of you, and i am certainly open to discussing this further – this is simply how i have come to understand it, but for the most part it feels pretty straightforward and hard to argue with. How do i operate? Well, when in doubt, or not hearing specifically from God, then let the default setting be God’s General Will. What of the things that i know god has already told me to do, do i need to be doing today? Is there someone i need to show love to? Is there someone i am needing to forgive or ask forgiveness from? Is there a marginalised person who could really use a conversation and just someone asking their name and listening to their story. Is there some more simplicity i can bring to my cluttered, expensive, busy, technology-filled life?

Do the General Will. And keep doing it. And invite others to do it with you or seek out others who are doing it well and do it with them. But be always listening for the Specific Will that might interrupt at any time [also the Specific Will is not likely to contradict the General Will – if you specifically hear God saying ‘Don’t forgive that person’, it is probably not God!]

His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. By us. Through His strength and guidance and leading. 

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