Are you up to a bit of heavy theological thinking?
Okay, try this on for size: I don’t think there is any religious topic that generates more discussion than the will of God — and we twist the Biblical meaning of the will of God for several reasons.
One is that this broken evil world does such bad things to us that we cannot cope unless we can somehow think this terrible thing is the will of God. In doing this, we often slander God.
For instance, a child is killed in a car accident. The cause of the wreck was a drunk driver, who escaped with only scratches. As a pastor, I have seen this terrible thing happen in the families of my flock. Over and over the families say, “It was God’s will.” — because that’s the only way we can handle it.
But it wasn’t really God’s will; it was the stupid, selfish will of a drunk!
Yet, of this we can be certain: the will of God is that this child will be safe with him, and that nothing be lost. And even of this event we can say, God will work in it and use it.
Another way we misunderstand God’s will is to think it deals primarily with our individual happiness. Actually, God’s will for each of us begins with our having a relationship of peace and purpose and fulfillment with God through his son, Jesus of Nazareth. Our personal plans for happiness are submerged in His plan to recreate this weary old world through his people, the church.
Yet I believe God does have a will, a plan, for our individual lives. And God’s plan for your life is filtered down to you through prayer, through your devotional times, through people, through circumstances, and even in interaction with the devil and the forces of evil. Like the mountain stream that goes laughing and singing and dancing down the mountain, oblivious to the rocks and logs — dancing over and under and around them. The will of God for your life cannot be defeated or turned aside permanently, unless you wish it so.
Perhaps we do not always realize how God uses us to carry out his will in the lives of others. I think one of the best stories I ever heard on the will of God is found in Joe David Brown’s grand old novel “Stars In My Crown.”
Brown tells how, as a child, he lived with his preacher grandpa. An old black man was a dear friend of the little boy, and one night the white-sheeted men came to lynch old Uncle Famous.
You see, while he cared nothing for money, his land sat on rich oil reserves. He wouldn’t sell, so they planned to do away with him. Grandpa got word, and came to Uncle Famous’ cabin to stay with him that night. The KKK came and told the preacher to step aside. Grandpa said he’d just come to pray with Uncle Famous and help him prepare to meet his Maker. He said that Uncle Famous was ready to die. It seemed, however, that Grandpa wanted to read Uncle Famous’ last will and testament before they took him away.
He took some papers from his pocket and began to read the old black man’s will. To one man, Uncle Famous left his shotgun — as a boy, the man had always wanted to shoot it, although the kick of it knocked him down; to another, he left his fishing rod because when that man was just a boy he had often fished with Uncle Famous.
And the list went on and on, with the white-sheeted men growing more uncomfortable by the minute. Finally they began to shuffle away, much to the old black man’s surprise. As Grandpa folded the will and pocketed it, a sheet fell to the ground and was picked up by the little boy. “Grandpa, there’s no will here. These are blank pages!”
Grandpa replied, “Yes, there is, boy, there’s the will of God!”
God’s will is mediated to other people through your words and actions, and to you through other people.