Living Freely in God’s Will (#526)

As Wayne reports on his recent trip to Ireland and the UK he and Brad end up in a discussion about God's will and how he reveals that to us. Unfortunately many Christians have been taught to follow a set of principles or rituals, rather than how to get to know him, to sense his heart, and to follow his leading as they navigate the reality of their own lives. Each of them share how they sense his leading and how others can as well. This is certainly not an exact science since he speaks in so many different ways. However, we can learn, even in our mistakes, how to recognize his voice and his nudgings. This is where life in him becomes an adventure because we are no longer trying to attain an set of expectations, but learning to recognize and follow his leading through whatever circumstances throw at us.

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  1. Discussions on the will of God and hearing God are often difficult to put into precise wording. It is reminiscent of finding concise words to precisely capture something like what we call love.

    In short, I’ve come to relate to the following of God inside the relational context of following a dance partner that knows how to lead. They can demonstrate (show through experienced dancers – perhaps elders) speak (through instructional materials – the words of God in scripture, other believers God speaks through) press (what we call nudges) listen to us (prayer) communicate through thoughts (listening to him in prayer), observation (watching him and others he is in relationship with) etc. Clearly it is complex and nuanced, just as any close relationship is. That is the main issue. We come to a place where we want to dance, and the person we will dance with, is the focus of our desire. The result will take care of itself.

    As far as the will of God goes, one could go on at length in discussing so many of the elements involved. The continuum of our free will to the sovereignty of God has been a significant component of my considerations of my relational interactions with God. I believe God, in his sovereignty, sovereignly chose to give his beings created in his image, free will. However, God did not give up his free will. I then overlay that with God acting inside of time in contrast to what his will is, and what he knows (before it happens), outside of time. His interaction with us in response to our free will choices, and the accomplishment of his sovereign will and plan can seem paradoxical, however it is valuable to remember that a paradox is only an apparent contradiction, not an actual one. This understanding of interacting with him ‘inside of time” as it were, has brought a new depth of meaning and significance to my prayer life.

    Both these areas culminate in being best understood inside the dynamic of knowing God relationally in a personal dynamic. Perhaps it is difficult to “pin down in precise language” because relationship is a living thing, fluid, evolving, growing, deepening and interactive, making it out of my control in a significant sense. The potential difficulties and fears that can evoke are mitigated by a growing in of trust him as he produces faith in me as I see him. I repeatedly remember …recall and re-attach… to him with whom I am in relationship with. Relationship can not be programmed into predictably repeatable steps because it involves unique individuals interacting with wills that must be kept free so that love is not compromised. Loving relationships must not be forced, but rather grow out desire for the other person.

    • Good thoughts Tom. The “paradox” of free will and sovereignty has been around from a long time and denominations have been built on the extremes and everything in between

      I heard once that it is like 2 sides of the same door, You walk through the door thinking you have free will, but on the other side looking back you discover God was leading and guiding, shaping and molding, influencing all along. And a bit later on, you discover He uses that “free will” action to accomplish a greater purpose. That’s what he does. He is always redeeming.

      There IS a dance. It is a great picture.

  2. I was watching an old Johnny Carson the other night…the comedian Bill Mahre was on, and he happened to be talking about Jesus. ‘You know, Johnny, Jesus was a Jew. But he has a Spanish name!’ Call it coincidence, what have you, but in the context of the story shared in the podcast, maybe Jesus is Spanish afterall !!

    In many of the decisions I make, it is often years until I discover that they are the right decisions. God often tells me ‘Wait’, not ‘Yes’, or ‘No’. Maybe like what Brad, in so many words, said in the podcast, it takes that long for God to make the bad decisions into good ones, as we allow Him to. I’ve seen several of the decisions I’ve made 15, 20. 30 years ago, only recently come to fruition in my favor, where through the process there were times I regretted, doubted, etc, because I wasn’t hearing a clear answer from God.

    About the gay marriage debate discussed, I’m not surprised that a prominent religious leader like a Tony Campolo endorses it in the Institutional Church, especially in the framework in what we have been discussing here with the phenomenon of the ‘Dones’ and declining attendance and the like. From the little I read, Campolo based his decision on several personal relationships he has with gay people, but in a larger context, given the threat of loss of tax-exempt status of churches who do not accept the gay marriage idea, if the IC is truly just a ‘business’ like the Walmart across the street, why eventually wouldn’t they be as welcoming as the Walmart is as accepting gay couples through the doors. They may simply need them to survive.

  3. Has anyone here read the book “Good God: The One We Want to Believe in but Are Afraid to Embrace” by Lucas Miles?

  4. ,Great phrase-” bringing truth wrapped in love” ! (Eph 4:15)k Speaking truth w/o love is legalism, speaking love w/o truth is humanism, ‘bringing truth wrapped in love’ is growing up in Christ!

  5. I heard a sermon on Christian radio by a prominent preacher saying that one decision can change the course of your entire life. Although I don’t think he meant it as fear provoking, that way of thinking can make a believer fearful in making decisions. Also, bullying type people I have been around in the IC many times will not respect the leading of the Lord in an individual’s life in making decisions. I have had to work hard at being free from that mindset. Thanks for the helpful discussion.

    • I resonated w/ your words Sherri. It takes a long time, step by step for Jesus to win us to a place of freedom from that particular IC “fear” that ends up paralyzing us. When we relax into His care for us, we can make mistakes knowing He’s faithful and patient to walk us through them. It’s so easy for me to talk about this, but reality is that I am growing very slowly more free. It seems that along with that freedom comes respect for others to work out what Jesus is showing them w/out me needing to interupt that process in their lives. Blessings, Sue

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