A story circulating for years among the clergy, tells of a minister who was invited to pastor a church at which the salary was four times what he had been receiving. Being a devout man, he spent many hours in prayer to discern the will of God. One day a friend met the minister’s little boy on the street and asked, “Well, what is your father going to do?” “Well,” said the boy, “Father’s praying, but Mother’s packing.” The father was saying to God, “What will you have me do?” The mother, no less good-intentioned, was saying to God, “This is what I am going to do, I hope you approve.” Doesn’t that sound like us? Lord, this is what I am going to do, bless it!
As the church today gets more and more contemporary, more and more need-oriented, responding to the buttons that people push in their pews, I find myself longing for more of an old time faith. Most of us decide what we want and then claim that this is God’s will, whether God had anything to do with it or not. The change is seen in why we worship God. Some properly come to worship God and seek to serve their Lord any way that they can. However, the more contemporary trend, is what can God offer me! The person who looks at it with “what is in it for me” will never find God’s will for their life. It is too selfish and too self centered.
“Be careful,” runs the old saying, “or you may get what you want.” One who would agree is a man who lived in a squalid tenement on a side street in East Boston. He was a tailor and worked long hours each day to eke out a meager existence. He allowed himself but one luxury: a ticket each year to the Irish Sweepstakes. And each year he would pray fervently that this would be the winning ticket that would bring him his fortune. For fourteen years his life continued in the same impoverished vein, until one day there came a loud knocking on his door. Two well-dressed gentlemen entered his shop and informed him that he had just won the Sweepstakes. The grand prize was $250,000! The little tailor could hardly believe his ears. He was rich! No longer would he have to slave away making pant cuffs, and hemming dresses. Now he could really live! He locked his shop and threw the key into the Charles River. He bought himself a wardrobe fit for a king, a new Rolls Royce, a suite of rooms at the Ritz, and soon was supporting a string of attractive women. Night after night he partied until dawn, spending his money as if each day was his last. Of course the inevitable happened. One day the money was gone. Furthermore, he had nearly wrecked his health. Disillusioned and ridden with fever and exhausted, he returned to his little shop and set up business once more. And, from force of habit, once again each year he set aside from his meager savings the price of a Sweepstakes ticket. Two years later there came a second knock at his door. The same two gentlemen stood there once again. “This is the most incredible thing in the history of the Sweepstakes,” exclaimed one. “You have won again!” The little tailor staggered to his feet with a groan that could be heard for miles. “Oh, no,” he protested, “– do you mean I have to go through all that again?” We always fail to ask, is it meeting our needs or meeting God’s desire?
We falsely believe that God forces His will upon our lives! And we can validate that with scripture. Moses, Jonah, Job, Paul, etc. As a Christian we set our will completely aside and accept God’s will for our lives. If we do not, and only take our will, we end up like Judas. The Lord’s Prayer sets a much higher example for all of us. MAT 6:10 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (NIV) How is it done in Heaven? Do we lose our individualism? No! That is an invitation not to smash our will but to merge God’s will with our will. Jesus prayed, LUK 22:42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (NIV) Jesus still had a will – He didn’t want to die. God, the Father’s will wins out.
Picture in your mind children playing beside a tiny stream that runs down a mountainside to join a river in the valley below. Children can divert the stream and slow the water but not a one can prevent the water from reaching the river. In regard to God we are very little children. Though we may divert and hinder God’s purposes, we never defeat God’s purposes. How much better to flow in God’s channel, blending our will with God’s will.
Gideon sought to merge his will with God’s will. Gideon was a farmer, not a minister, not a professor. An ordinary man with an ordinary faith. Gideon puts out the fleece to find God’s will. Faith goes looking for God’s. God’s will is not something we resign ourselves to. God would not have given us a will if we were only meant to surrender it. The will is a gift of God and there is a stewardship to using it. It is not so much a matter of surrendering our will as it is a matter of “being in partnership” with God’s will. If our will is suppressed or destroyed we lose our excitement, our drive, our creativity. However, when our natural will is partnershipped with God’s will, the spiritual, we are complete. JOH 10:30 I and the Father are one.” (NIV)
Chuck Givens says, “When I was a kid, I wrote down 181 dreams I wanted to achieve in my life. To date, I’ve made 160 come true.” Givens got his first wish — to write the hottest song in Nashville — at age 22 with the hit tune “Hang on Sloopy,” which earned him enough to build a recording studio. Givens remembers, “A few weeks after I opened the studio it burned to the ground. I drove out there alone and stood in the ashes. Then I just started to smile — I had survived this! I left feeling 10 feet tall and bullet-proof.” A decade and many ups and downs later, Givens found himself selling real estate in Beach Mountain, N. C. “I hadn’t made a sale in two months, and the boss said, ‘You’ve lost the vision. Start selling people their dreams, instead of just dirt.'” That day, Givens closed his next sale. Seven months later he had earned enough to start his own company. Today, Chuck Givens has achieved a whole slew of his dreams: He owns 43 other businesses and $10 million in real estate. But there are still those 21 dreams to go — some large, like building a broadcasting empire, and some small, like building his own home from scratch. Givens notes, “Most people go out in the real world, get kicked around and let go of their dreams. I just never stopped thinking like a 10-year-old.”
Partnership with God is just as exciting and wonderful.