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Sermons on the Lord’s Prayer - Thy WILL be Done
Date: 
Sun, 03/27/2011 (All day)

 

The Will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you.

Author Unknown

 

In his book The Will of God, Leslie Weatherhead tells a poignant story of India.  He writes

I was standing on the veranda of an Indian home darkened by bereavement.  My Indian friend had lost his little son, the light of his eyes, in a cholera epidemic

 

At the far end of the veranda his little daughter, the only remaining child spelt in a cot covered over with mosquito netting.

We paced up and down and I tried in my clumsy way to comfort and console him.

But he said, “Well, Padre, it is the will of god

That’s all there is to it, it is the will of god.

 

What do we mean when we say - what is the will of God

For some people their answer is - whatever happens is the will of God.  the will of God is what happens.Is that what you believe? If so, you probably struggle with the whole notion of God’s will.

 

How then do we make sense of what happens - how do we explain pain and suffering, tsunami, earthquakes, radiation leaks

How do we come up with our explanations for “God’s plan”

Danger is that we do - come up with our answers -certainty

 

Reminds me of a Charlie Brown Cartoon,

Charlie Brown invests in 5 cents worth of Lucy’s psychiatric help

At first her advice sounds a bit more sophisticated

“Adversity builds character” she says

“Without adversity a person could never mature and face up to all the things in life”

“What things?” he asks

“More adversity!” she says

 

So we come to the problems of discerning God’s will for you and me.

First we have the problem of theodicy - if God is all good and God is all powerful then why do bad things happen.  And so we have certainty - we have our explanations

It is part of God’s plan.  And if that is where you are going to go….then how to I grieve?

 

And the worst part of this is that we become passive reactors to whatever life has for us.

This is not faith - this is fatalism.

And if God is going to do what God is going to do and everything is planned

Why do we pray

Do you pray and end your prayer with the words - “If it be thy will”  …Do you pray thinking that God is going to do what God is going to do…If whatever happens is the will of God then what is the purpose of Prayer?

Sort of makes you think - at least I hope it does

Which is why when we say - “Thy will be done” it is important to have clarity

Otherwise we will thrust people’s minds into torment during times of suffering with our certainty and our easy answers

Or we blunt the very edge of our spiritual relationship and our social purpose as Christians

 

It could be that we are saying God’s will be done in such a way that is the very opposite of God’s will being done!

 

Leslie Weatherhead wrote a very important little book which is called The Will of God

And he divides God’s will into three parts -

The intentional will of God

The Circumstantial will of god

The ultimate will of God

 

Intentional Will - God created the world and us and it was very good. God’s will for his world is a world found in Eden where humans had companionship, work and food and a relationship with God   God’s will for the world is also found in Corinthians which speaks of unity - no division - all Christians working together as a body in harmony

 

God’s will for his world is found in marriage vows which speak of honor and reverence and faithfulness between person

 

God’s will for all children is found at an infant dedication and which the parents and the congregation jointly vow to model lives of grace and forbearance and love - to raise a child together in faith

When you see God’s glory reflected in this lovely earth, in the sights and sounds, the abundant colors of nature, In music that stirs our souls, In great architecture,In the lives of people of love

In healthy bodies, and resilient minds and saintly souls - the intentional will of God

 

But of course, we are given free will  And our free will creates circumstances of evil that cut across God’s plan that disturb God’s intention for us.

There are circumstances in this world - like poverty, racism, abusive childhoods, war, classism that prevent us from living our best lives and maybe God’s original intention is not  realized

 

So the young man with gifts and interest to become an architect may find himself as a paratrooper at war

Or the young man with great managerial gifts and a drug problem ends up working in  a rehab facility and not in a corporation

 

I don’t want to be simplistic - but let’s see that even in the wrong paths that we follow - there is a right path that comes through the circumstances of our lives

That is the circumstantial will of God

 

And then the ultimate will is found in our redemption, our coming back to God.  It is the goal that is reached despite our sin and our turning away from God

Do you remember that the disciples said - who can be saved?

And Jesus looked at them and said,

With men it is impossible but not with God; for all things are possible with God.

All things are possible - which does not mean that nothing can happen unless it is God’s will

It means that nothing can happen which can FINALLY defeat God

God’s ultimate will is that his children - broken and fragmented as they are - may ultimately be his.

And so the question for all of us - is this - how do we discern the will of God

And I have three very clear suggestions

 

  1. Read scripture.  God reveals God’s will for our lives in God’s word.  How do you read scripture - long view - .

It is important to have the long view and know the stories of our faith - like the call of Abraham and Sarah, the deliverance of Moses, the teachings of Jesus, the Sacrificial death of our Lord, and most especially the Resurrection.

And also we need to read devotionally so that the stories and the words get inside of us.  Here are some of the words that come to me at times and so God is guiding me:

  • Martha, Martha you are anxious about many things
  • Love your enemies
  • Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find…
  • I am with you always

 

  1. Sign posts - God will give you signs if you see them.  Like a crocus popping it’s head out of the snow as a sign of hope. Or it could be a piece of literature, a work of art.  One spiritual writer sees a tree being pruned and recognizes that God wants to do pruning in her life.  She sees an image and allows it to speak to her.  It is notable that God gets Moses attention in a burning bush.  A sign post.

 

  1. Surrender - a big piece of this is to surrender our ego and to trust that God wants what is best for us.  Frequently in this walk of faith we will encounter resistance, stubbornness within ourselves that is our wanting our own way, to be right and especially to be in control.

 

Just think - what was it like to be Jesus who - in the garden of Gethsemane said - Not my will, but thy will be done.

 

Discerning and then living in and acting on God’s will is not easy - but it is certainly worth it.

 

The will of God will never take you

Where the grace of god cannot keep you,

Where the arms of God cannot support you,

Where the riches of God cannot supply your needs

Where the power of God cannot endow you.

 

Madeliene L’Engle has written “Whenever, somehow or another, we manage to do God’s will, there is the kingdom of heaven right here right now.

Living in the will of God then means faithfulness and perseverance on our pilgrimage.

It means journeying to a destination rather than being pushed in whatever directions the winds of society or peer pressure blow

Living a life of discernment does not mean we get a “game plan” for our lives

What we have been given is God’s spirit which abides with us,

Opens us to new possibilities moment by moment

And leads us to become people through whom God’s will is done.

 

May it be so.

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