Rabid Fun

John Cowart's Daily Journal: A befuddled ordinary Christian looks for spiritual realities in day to day living.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

An Old Conversation

Tuesday, as I prowled through my files gathering materials for the book I’m writing about finding and doing the will of God, I came across this undated entry from one of my old diaries. As best I can tell this conversation between Ginny and me took place back in the mid-1980s:

We enjoyed a long conversation about God's will and our own life; she contributed a number of excellent ideas which clarify matters for me somewhat. I am still missing some key element which I can't put my finger on.

There appear to be three levels related to God's will.

(1). Some events which we tend to call "natural" are revealed in Scripture to be God's will. Things like earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, freezes, volcanic eruptions—things over which mankind has no control, are brought about by the will of God. Included in this area are conception and death. Psalm 29 declares that the Voice of The Lord causes each of the above:


Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty,

Give unto the LORD glory and strength.

Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name;

Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

The voice of the LORD is upon the waters:

The God of glory thundereth:

The LORD is upon many waters.

The voice of the LORD is powerful;

The voice of the LORD is full of majesty.

The voice of the LORD breaketh the cedars;

Yea, the LORD breaketh the cedars of Lebanon.

He maketh them also to skip like a calf;

Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn.

The voice of the LORD divideth the flames of fire.

The voice of the LORD shaketh the wilderness;

The LORD shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh.

The voice of the LORD maketh the hinds to calve,

And discovereth the forests:

And in his temple doth every one speak of his glory.

The LORD sitteth upon the flood;

Yea, the LORD sitteth King for ever.

The LORD will give strength unto his people;

The LORD will bless his people with peace.

Man has no control over most of the above. We can encourage conception with fertility drugs and such but we can not cause it if it's is not there; the creation of life is solely in the hand of God.

Natural death and the length of life is also in God's hand. Again, man is able to cut short life by murder or suicide, but death is inevitable and under the control of God. The life-extending techniques of modern medicine can not prolong life beyond a certain point and most of these techniques would have been considered torturing a victim in former ages (Look what happened to our friend Joel).

(2). The general will of God is manifest in His revealed moral law. This refers to the will of God for all men everywhere. Thou shalt not steal, murder, commit adultery, lie—moral commands incumbent on all human behavior. For us, these thing boil down to a simple matter of obedience. When I am tempted to steal something, a choice confronts me. I know better, but I am going to do it anyhow; or this is wrong and I am not going to take that item. While I may try to circumnavigate the issue and justify my behavior (I didn't really love Evelyn, my first wife, or she me, and we should never have gotten married in the first place). Nevertheless, I know the standard, and deep down I know when I offend against it.

(3). The third level related to me and to God's will falls into the category of my individual choices in matters where there is no revelation of God's will. Most of our questions and mental turmoil falls into this area. Should I buy a Ford or a Chevy? Marry Joe or Bill? Become a plumber or a preacher? Live in Florida or New Jersey? Go to Yale or Harvard? Such questions concern us most.

Now some Christians believe that God's will and plan for our lives is so detailed that He has a definite preference between my buying a Ford or a Chevy. "God has a wonderful plan for your life," these people say. They cite Scripture to the effect that the very hairs of my head are numbered and that God knows every sparrow that falls, therefore, if God has an interest in hair and birds, He must also have a vested interest in whether I order chocolate or vanilla. And, If I pray and seek His will, He will somehow show me whether to marry Betty or Veronica, etc.

Other Christians believe that God's detailed will for an individual stopped with the revelation of the moral law, that God has given us common sense as well as internal interests and preferences and therefore it is up to us to chose as we wish and take the consequences of our choices.

If I like vanilla and choose vanilla, that choice is perfectly ok with God.

Whether I chose to be a plumber or a preacher is of no great concern to God as long as I am an honest plumber living for Him and worshiping Him there beneath the house where nobody but Him can see me. Or I can be a preacher as long as I preach His word honestly and care for my congregation with love. My living for Him is His concern, not the minor details of how I earn that living.

If I am at Harvard, live for Christ there; If I'm accepted at Yale, then I'm to live for Christ at Yale. There is no divine cheering session saying, "Go Gators, Go!" Neither Florida State nor the University of Florida have a lock on the divine will. No voice from Heaven tells a prospective student to go to one or the other.

Does the will of God for us ever change?


Ginny used the illustration of a person who is cold and wears a sweater and a coat and a blanket and comes inside to a room where a fire blazes in the fireplace.

She said that, at the door, she may shrug the blanket off her shoulders. As she moves closer to the fire, she takes off her coat. Then the sweater comes off. As the warmth prevails, the lady may end up stark naked on the bearskin rug toasting in front of the fire. Ginny used this example to show that the closer we move to God's warmth, the less we are concerned about things which were once important to us.

Outside, we clutch the blanket, the coat, the sweater tight around us. Our very survival may depend on whether or not we have a coat. But as we mover closer to God, these things drop away naturally, almost unnoticed. Therefore, while at some point in our life, choosing a nursery for the kids was the most important thing in our minds, now that is of no concern at all. Such decisions are only of temporary importance.

At an airport, Ginny said, the time to be concerned about checking your baggage and whether or not you will get a window seat or who will sit next to you on the flight, is not when the plane is landing; then, the important thing is Who will met you at your destination.

She also reminded me of the C.S. Lewis Narnia story Voyage of the Dawn Treader in which Eustace, as a dragon, tried and tried to scratch off his scales and only succeeded in flaking off a few which grew right back. Then Aslan ripped him open and skinned him to restore him to humanity.

All Eustace could do was lay there, belly exposed, and submit to the treatment.

That is the hardest posture to maintain. We want to up and do, to scratch and claw, to bring about the desired results immediately. God's will is often that we be still and know that He is indeed God.

Ginny said, we need to wait and pray with our bellies exposed...

We talked a whole lot more about such things.

We never finish talking together.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 4:48 AM


At 6:39 AM, Blogger sherri said...

"That is the hardest posture to maintain. We want to up and do, to scratch and claw, to bring about the desired results immediately. God's will is often that we be still and know that He is indeed God.

Ginny said, we need to wait and pray with our bellies exposed..."

This is THE hardest thing ever. Being uncomfortable while waiting.
Great post. Jenny is a wise woman.


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