A blog was set up on our church’s web site to allow for comments on the pastor’s summer sermon series. There was one comment (which I’ve edited below for brevity) related to the will of God entitled “God is large and in charge” that I found interesting:
I look back and reflect on a time when God was real, present and in control of my life. I must have fought with God every step of the way. However, God began showing me that He had gifted me for a purpose and began the slow and painful process of changing my definition of success, and my trusting in Him alone for my security and well-being.
During this time, God was present in every way I could have imagined. He spoke to me through the Spirit (that still small voice), through other people, through the Word and even through the radio. Everywhere I turned, I had confirmations regarding a life’s direction. Everything from Bible verses reminding me God has plans to prosper and not to harm me (Jeremiah 29:11) and that God works all things for the good of those that love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28) to radio songs about surrendering my life completely to God.
I kept a journal of all the confirmations I sensed God throwing my way just so I could be sure and convinced that this was from God. It’s almost comical the steps God used to get my attention. It’s also incredibly encouraging to look back and realize God was there and really did have my best interests at heart. I’ve never been happier in my life. And, to top it off, God has met all of our financial needs and even most of our wants.
I posted the following comment:
Your story of God’s leading is interesting. However, the overriding perception seems to be that you’re trusting God based not only on the feelings you’ve experienced but also on the outcome. Ultimately, you felt that this direction was the right thing to do and the outcome of that decision – being that you’ve never been happier and aren’t lacking for anything has validated that decision. Who am I to say that you’re not right? Maybe God did lead you. Still, I find it troubling that Christian cultists, or non-Christians for that matter, could use the same logic and draw the same conclusions based on their similar experiences. This (for me) begs the questions, does God lead non-believers in the same way as you believe He has led you? Perhaps that’s a question for another time. Still, how is it that Christians today lay claim to God prospering them today based on Jer 29:11? This is indeed what scripture says. However, is this what scripture teaches? The reference in Jeremiah is a historical event – God gave a promise to those whom Nebuchadnezzar had exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon. Furthermore, there was a seventy-year period from when the promise was given to the promise’s eventual fulfillment. It’s a little disconcerting to apply similar logic regarding Matt 27:5 – where Judas hanged himself. In addition, I don’t think the Rom 8:28 reference supports your contention that God “willed” you into a specific direction as I don’t see the verse saying that God directs everything.
Lo and behold, a reply from the original poster:
When I look back and see God’s hand in my life, I see two separate issues here – one related to His promise of provision, and the other related to a vocational direction. Both were equally mind-blowing and joyful to me.
While I certainly had financial fears about this vocation, that doesn’t mean that God’s financial provision since then is proof that taking this job was God’s will. Rather, during this call, I was forced to confront the issue of whether or not I really believed I could trust God for my financial provision. I was stepping onto new spiritual turf because of my upbringing and the resulting philosophies I carried with me about self-reliance and even definitions for success. I placed my trust in God and gave up my illusions of control and still we have lacked for nothing. This is proof of God’s faithfulness and provision and that we can trust him – not proof that this vocation was God’s Will. Indeed, through prayer, scriptures, listening to the Holy Spirit and through council from trusted Christian friends I was sure of God’s will before I took the leap. A “last act of desperation” I wrote of was more about my own insecurities and hoping that if it wasn’t what God wanted then He would close that door. I knew I was called but I was afraid and reluctant to take what I felt was such a big risk with my life.
The references to Romans 8:28 and Jeremiah 29:11 were of course written in different cultures and different audiences and situations. However, I believe the same words of God are relevant to us today. These scriptures are promises that God will provide for His people and will work all things for good. Those scriptures God called to mind as I was considering whether I could really trust Him and step into the relative unknown I was facing gave me comfort that although I didn’t know the how or the when – everything would work out if I would continue to seek God in all things. Thankfully, it didn’t take seventy years to see that God would provide for me. To me those scriptures are not guarantees that we will see the results with our own eyes or that the “plans for good” are even how we would define goodness in terms of our own desired outcomes. Rather, they’re a call to trust God, in all things, without necessarily knowing what His plan will look like. For me, it took a transition into the unknowns of a vocation to grapple with these scriptures in ways that I hadn’t before. The result of learning to trust God in this way is that we have had our faith encouraged and we never been happier.