Monday, October 6, 2014

Grace and God's will for our lives

“During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’”  Acts 16: 9 (NRSV)

Background to this verse tells us that Paul, Silas and Timothy are traveling through the regions of Galatia and Phrygia, which are east and south of Asia. The group traveled through Asia, but the Holy Spirit did not allow them to speak God's word to any of the churches there, which included the beloved churches at Ephesus, Colossae, and Laodicea.  Paul attempted to go to the region north of Asia, which was a region called Bithynia, but he again was prohibited from going there by the Holy Spirit.  Then, Paul had the vision described in the verse above.

Paul's conversion was a result of a vision of Jesus.  Paul (then known as Saul) obeyed the instructions he was given in the vision, and God orchestrated the role that everyone else played in this miraculous conversion.  Paul was sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, and when the Holy Spirit told Paul not to speak the Word, Paul obeyed, although this must have been a most difficult thing to do.  However, through obedience, even obedience to something that seems almost contrary to God's will, the LORD clearly showed Paul what His will was. 
For modern Christians, God's will often seems unclear and a bit mysterious.  Although I try to refrain from a personal testimony devotion format, I must relate personal testimony to this particular subject because God's will for our lives is such a personal thing, just as it was for Paul.  God does not pour his favor and grace into us and then leave us high and dry without specific direction. 

I have been without steady, permanent employment for a while.  Although I adjunct teach, and I enjoy this very much, I want to have steady employment.  I have interviewed for many jobs for which I am very well qualified, and the interviews have gone so well, but I have yet to be hired.  I can choose to cry to God and ask, "What is wrong with me?  Why won't You let them hire me?" The problem is that when I adopt this attitude, I am not seeking God's will, but defying God's grace.  Here is how this idea works.

The fact that Christ died for my sins says that when God looks at me, He sees a person to bring glory to His name.  This is a fact.  If the LORD, the most powerful and immense being in the universe sees me as a worthy person, then who am I to question this?  If I am to allow grace to govern my life, then God will be glorified in all that I do. 
So, what should I do about employment?  I need to keep trying because God is actually speaking very clearly to me in all of these attempts.  He is not saying that I am not worthy for this job.  God is saying that His glory is best displayed in what I am doing right now. 

The verse above serves as reminder to modern Christians that God does speak to us in everything that we do.  Sometimes things happen in a way that seems contrary to what we think is God's will for our lives, but we must remember that God is in control, no matter what happens.  Remember, God is working, through grace extended to each of us, to bring glory to Himself.