The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
My pastor is in the midst of a teaching on the will of God. Our text is “The Will of God” by Leslie Weatherhead, Abingdon Press, 1974. Originally written in 1944, much of the exposition reflects the agonies of living in England during WWII.
Weatherhead begins by differentiating the multiple facets of the will of God: intentional, circumstantial, and the ultimate.
Basically, he tells us that God wanted things to be really good for us (intentional) but He will help us through our detours (circumstantial) because He is going to accomplish His purposes no matter what (ultimate).
My pastor hammered home the concept that we must take care in counseling or comforting the afflicted by haphazardly offering a feeble explanation of negative circumstances being the will of God. Our Heavenly Father does not want disease, murder, betrayal, poverty, or similar trials, to beset us. He is love; not the author of confusion.
One member of the class made the astute observation that we interpret events according to our own standards, understanding of life, and beliefs about life and God. Oh, the maturity required to begin to understand that He is God and we are not.
I doubt I am the only one who has struggled to understand the reasons for the trials in life. However, I am thankful to know that God is faithful and has never left me through them. I know experientially that He has come not to eliminate my struggle but to be with me in them. And, I have learned no not ask “Why?” but to ask “What?”
What are the things I need to learn from this trial, Lord? How do You want me to grow now that this thing has happened? Will I turn to You for comfort and solace instead of the world and its glitter that fades? Am I willing to hurt long enough for you to accomplish Your Will?
I am a baby-gym rat. At my age, few of us ever attain ribbons or trophies for our efforts. Yet, I am committed to my weekly work-outs because they help me maintain my weight, function, and sanity. There’s no better place to beat out one’s frustrations than at the bench press.
Muscles can be developed in two basic ways. Multiple repetitions of comfortable weight will tone and strengthen. However, three or four reps at fifty pounds, performed regularly, will bulk up those arms as well as build strength.
My work-outs have had to be altered after my four years in the gym. I went gung-ho, working up to heavy weights, but recently have become dissatisfied with the increased size in my muscles. I’ve gained a dress size and ten pounds! I’ve gone back to more reps with lighter weights. Too much of a good thing…
As I thought of my study about the will of God, I realized that in my spiritual life a similar principle applies.
When life is rolling along with minor irritations, devoid of the big tragedies, I can be pleased with my faithfulness and delicate growth as a disciple. I can keep doing this light work-out and stayed toned and look pretty good. Progress is slow, albeit positive, and if that’s where I want to stay, I just keep going.
Sometimes, the Lord intervenes and sets a big, heavy weight in front of me. Now, I know what will happen if I tackle this big boy. Who wants to be fatter, heavier, and bigger?
Yet, that may be the very intention of the Lord. Whether it’s His intentional, circumstantial, or ultimate will, it is His will nonetheless; and the faithful disciple spits in his hands, looks at the Master Trainer, and braces for the lift.
Some trainers have to resort to screaming and yelling. “You can do it. Come on you wimp, lift! You’ll never get there if you don’t work.” It helps to focus attention on the difficult task when someone stands beside you and screams.
The Lord has done this to me. He has set down a big one, and through His presence and gentle prodding, has forced me to lift. I have no idea what His will is nor do I know what is up ahead. But, He does. And the only way I’ll be prepared, faithful to participate, and trained for the task, is to lift heavy. I may not like it, but as my gym trainer says, it’s for my own good.
Take a look in your spiritual mirror. Are you flabby or toned? Are you satisfied with your progress? If not, step up in faith and lift heavy. Trust the Master Trainer and submit to His work-out designed to bring you through the will of God.