God's Will (Part 1) Sept. 24, 2021
As a pastor and a Christian one of the most confounding struggles I have is trying to help people understand God’s will. As our family faces the tragic death of Cyndy’s sister, Nanci, I again find myself wrestling with just what is God’s will for our lives. One of the most helpful books I have read on God’s will is a series of sermons written by Leslie Weatherhead way back in 1943. Weatherhead was a pastor in London, England at the time and if you know anything about your history, during this time London was being bombarded with bombs dropped from German planes at this time. During this time folks understandably struggled with God’s will. Hearing this frustration Weatherhead put together a 6-week sermon series on God’s will that later became an incredibly helpful tool for many Christians in the world.
In the sermon series he clarified just what God’s will was in this world by breaking God’s will up into three definitive aspects: God’s intentional will, God’s circumstantial will, and God’s ultimate will.
In the next couple of weeks, I would like to take some time to try to explain these three aspects of God’s will in the terms of my own personal struggle in dealing with Nanci’s tragic death and in terms of this present global struggle with the pandemic.
I do this not to “tell you the correct answer” but instead to start some dialogue around this human struggle of faith in God. So, if you have questions, struggles, or insights concerning “God’s will” please email me or txt me and I’d be glad to visit with you about this!
God’s Intentional Will
The verse that I like to use when thinking about God’s intentional will is Jeremiah 29:11. Jeremiah, speaking for our God says this: “For I know the plans I have for you, plans for your welfare and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. ”
God’s intentional will for every one of us is for our welfare, for our good! Just like a good parent, God has dreams for us. Dreams of our success. Dreams that we will live a long and prosperous life! Dreams that we will not die of cancer. Dreams that we will not have to endure wars and pandemics. God NEVER intends that our life be cut short by a car accident (like my sister Rachel at 19), or that you husband Glen dies at 61 of cancer (like my brother-in-law), or that your brother dies in the Vietnam war, or that your child dies of Covid-19. That is NEVER God’s will for us.
As William Sloan Coffin put it when someone asked him how he could preach the funeral for his own son who drown after his car went off the road and landed in a lake: “I can preach about God’s never-ending love at my son’s funeral because I know deep in my heart that the minute those waters surrounded my son and he breathed his last breath, the God I have come to know in Jesus was the first one to cry a tear. God didn’t cause my son’s death. It was not God’s will that my son would die too early. God intended my son to live a long and healthy life.”
As a friend of mine recently wrote in the Houston Chronicle responding to the flooding there: “God's will is not about evil or unpleasantness, disaster or unhappiness. God intentionally pours out love, mercy, and absolute goodness. This simply leads us to understand that everything that happens is NOT God's will. ... This is the reality of the true freedom given to us all by God.
More next week...
Your Pastor, still clinging to God’s never-ending love in Christ, Brook