Wednesday, May 9

God's Will . . . Revisited

Yesterday we convened our monthly minister's meeting in Western New York. The following is a rough sketch of how the meeting proceeded. One of our brothers, a chaplain in corrections, had considered the possibility of a job change to another town. In the end he and his wife thought it best not to move even though some aspects about the job were attractive. The process, being such a common need among our parishoners as well as ourselves, I thought it best to record the following list and email it to our larger group of ministers who were not at the meeting. I trust it might help you as well. I summarized and interjected thoughts into the simple list in order to clarify. So, I began the email . . .

Dear Brothers:
I am not speaking in hyperbole when I tell you that our meeting today was excellent! Taking Michael Nace's recent "will of God" incident, we heard his brief recounting of their (his and Sylvie's) reasoning for staying put at their current place in Gowanda. Upon hearing this, we entered upon a discussion of many pertinent issues that arise both for ourselves as well as for those to whom we minister. I think that most of you would agree that determining the will of God is one of if not the greatest concerns among the people of God. As we discussed this subject, Pat Wilson wrote down a few of the items that arose. By no means would this list represent the extent of our discussion. We merely record them here since he had them. I will add a couple of thoughts within. NOTE: No attempt is made here to arrive any kind of order. Pat simply jotted down ideas as they arose in Mike's explanation a/o our later discussion. So, how do we go about discovering God's will?
  1. Scripture. Here we would add that the Bible is not a book of magic where God's will appears genie-like upon reading it. Rather, if we go into our readings with a submissive spirit, something much better than magic emanates, clarity from the Spirit!
  2. Prayer. God will hardly reveal himself to those who are not seeking him, or better yet, . . . listening!
  3. Godly counsel. Proverbs says, "In the multitude of counselors there is safety" (11:14). Counselors, mind you, are not God replacements, but those we trust to help us look to God.
  4. Peace of mind. It's not wise to make a move when the heart is conflicted. God's will should become clear as we move through the process of discovering it.
  5. First impressions (1st voice heard in Garden of Eden was God's; 2nd voice heard was Satan's). Michael felt this to be an important consideration in deciding to remain in Gowanda. I (Dave) had not heard of this  so much except with regard to taking tests!! But I suppose that second-guessing affects us similarly.
  6. Agreement with spouse. This is very important. If indeed our wives are God-given "helpers" suitable to us, they have a better than average view on our capabilities and weaknesses. We do well to hear them carefully. They have the Spirit. It is true, as Sylvie alluded, that as a wife she would go with her husband wherever he felt God leading him. I would add that such a submissive spirit acts as a powerful indicator that the wife's aid is necessary.
  7. Giftedness. Not the most important, but taken together with the other indicators, this one ought to be considered. God gifts us as he wills, therefore, our placement should be in an area of our strength. An exception may be that we may not realize one of our strengths until put into the cauldron. But as a general rule, this is a wise consideration.
  8. Readiness Do I really want to know God's will?  Am I ready to obey? If I am not practicing obedience in smaller issues, why would God entrust to me the larger? Faithful in little, faithful in much . . .
  9. Release from present ministry. Pat shared this one as having come from a former NY CB State Director, Burton Murdock. The thought is that we may be looking elsewhere, but at some point, we must ask ourselves, "Has God really given me release from this ministry?" Good question. Without this, we may jump from the frying pan into the fire!
  10. Calling (both personal calling to ministry & God's calling to a specific ministry). Jeremy Van Sant really focused on this as a point not being considered enough in today's newer ministers. I believe there was a consensus in today's meeting. I would say it is vital to know that God has issued a calling on your life in ministry and then subsequently on location. God speaks. He is the Revealer isn't He? So, God will hardly leave us in the lurch without a clear direction either. We want to know that God has put his hand on our lives and called us into his service. Such a call renders our trials of far lesser importance. In fact, as Carolyn Sharpe iterated, such trials are part of the very fabric of our Christian lives. They are to be expected, not avoided or shunned.
  11. Testimony of others (do others see evidence of God's calling in my life?). Paul Decker can testify to this along with me, that in order to attend Seminary of the East (outside Philly) our home churches had to send a letter of recommendation testifying to our calling as ministers. Good practice. It's one thing if we say we're called, another when other believers feel the same. The Spirit works in God's people, so there is a place to trust (at least to some extent) the sense of your call in their hands.
  12. Relationship with the Lord. In my counseling with those seeking God's will, I (Dave) have posed the question (in various ways), "You say you want God's will? But do you want the God of that will?" We've each probably run into those who want to know where to go, a destination, etc., but it's almost as if they are trying to pull off an "end-around," skirting God himself preferring only that He tell them what to do without requiring an intimate relationship with Him! I also say that God's will may not always be as hard we make it in this sense. If we are followers of Jesus, then when he turns left, we go with him, or right, the same. In others words, we follow Christ always, and his leading will then become more noticeable. This is not to minimize the struggle we face in the searching process, but to put it into context.

Book:  Decision Making & the Will of God (Garry Friesen/IVP)
Movie:  Chariots of Fire. There are some neat portions in this movie on God's will.

NOTE: Brothers, much of what is above is either my own thoughts, or my take on the thoughts that arose in today's meeting. If in any case I've gotten it wrong, please clarify. I would not want to misrepresent anything which you have spoken.

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