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The Good News of His Will Being Done

I remember conversations in high school about God’s will that always included, “Well, I sure hope He doesn’t call me to singleness!” or “What if God calls me to be a missionary to Uzbekistan?” (Who am I kidding, we didn’t know Uzbekistan back then.) But the general angst was that as a Christian, we knew we should be willing to do whatever God wants but we also knew if He wanted certain things, there is no way we would want them. This also meant we might be faced with the big dilemma of whether or not to obey God, which being good Christians we were supposed to, but being honest, no way. So then, answers came like, “If He wants you to do something, He will make you excited about it!” (Might want to check with Jonah about that one, or Jesus for that matter…”Father, take this cup from me!”) Another similar easing of the anxiety comes in thoughts as I heard expressed recently about one family’s challenging situation – “Well, God knows who to call to some of these things and knows that I could never handle that.” The sentiment basically assuming that the person going through a grueling or even uncomfortable experience is somehow made of different stuff or innately qualified differently to be asked to do something I myself would never want to do. This gets me off the hook and comfortably removes me from having to consider it. It also assumes something of Noah, Joseph, Jeremiah, David, Daniel, Peter, Paul and others we study in Scripture that the Bible does not attribute to them – an internal righteousness, strength, courage or selflessness that defies sin at birth and the universal need for redemption. The LORD looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. Psalm 14:2-3 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Rom. 3:22-24 Yes, God has given each of His children different “gifts” of talents, particular aptitudes or abilities but all are dependent on the Spirit to use these for the benefit of others rather than to build one’s own personal kingdom or “American dream”. In every case, it is the person and work of Jesus at work on the hearts of His children which alone is responsible for the transformation and direction of the believer’s life. (This is also a good corrective to the Pharisaical tendency in all of us to judge other believers for not doing what Jesus is doing in us in this particular season of our lives.) Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 1 Cor. 12:3-5

And the moral of the story isn’t, “So you either make Jesus your Lord or you don’t…and if you call yourself a believer, you better!” No, He is the Lord and gives faith to my heart to see that. And because He is Lord, whether I vote Him in or not, He has Lordship over my life and will work out His good purposes whether by whale belly, midnight wrestling and loin wrenching, dreams or dinner in my home when nobody else would dare be seen with me (Zacheus).

Practically what that means is something like this: On the one side of His will, I’m most likely to say “no way!” because, most likely, it is going to look more like His Kingdom (which I can only see as in a mirror dimly…in other words barely make out from a seemingly great distance) than preserving and building mine (which is so immediate and seemingly in my reach). But on the other side of doing His will, there is that “peace which passes understanding”. Perhaps like someone who has to work crazy hard to lose a ton of weight…the process is miserable, not delightful and fun, and there is not necessarily a desire to go through it again. But on the other side, breathing is deeper and movement is more free.

I sit here in a house in a predominantly black neighborhood where I am periodically asked by long time residents, “So, how do you like living here?” The question communicates how out of the ordinary it seems to the questioner and, with great curiosity, what do you think about “us”? I’m always a little surprised when asked because the street feels just like the one I grew up in the middle of Buckhead (an old, more affluent and predominantly white area of Atlanta) and my neighbors here are just as friendly if not more community driven. I guess we didn’t have the nearby gunshots or street walking homeless drug addicts, but even those aspects are swallowed by the sweetness of being here over all.

In this house in this neighborhood, I now also have an African daughter from Uganda who will eventually call me “Mommy” when she can say more than “Na na na na na na” and “Da da da da da da da” for pretty much everything and anything. And, in this house in this neighborhood with this new baby are two older children who were in very desirable elite private schools and are now homeschooling.

None of these things would have made my “Where I’ll be in 25 years” imaginings back in late elementary school/junior high. But honestly, as I sit here now, most of what would have made that description then has little appeal to me now.

Do I have a greater threshold for “adventure” or risk than other Christians? I can answer definitively no. Did He bring me here because He saw something in me, apart from Him, that He admired? Biblically, that is impossible. So, did God make me excited about what He likes and want what He wants? I guess the answer, in retrospect, is yes. But in His way of doing things, that “agreement of will” came after the obedience in some cases and as a gift of grace to initiate the process in others. In each case, the process to get “here” included discouragement, loneliness, physical and emotional weariness, fear, obstacles, doubt, insecurity, exhaustion and even physical pain. Fun. (: But in each case, God makes it clear that the righteousness, strength, courage and selflessness of the person and work of Jesus will override and transform my sinful, self-serving heart and bring me into His presence in more tangible and visible ways. Here, I can breathe deeper and move more freely…and that is Good News.

Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died,

but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”

He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

On hearing it, many of his disciples said,

“This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”

Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.”

For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” John 6:57-68

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