Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV)
This morning I attended a Zoom training provided by my district for ministers/pastors. The District Executive opened by reading the scripture noted above. She preface the reading by saying she had heard several people expressing their concern over knowing what God’s will was/is for their lives. “God’s will is plainly stated in scripture.” And then she read the all too familiar verse.
There are other scriptures that make God’s will and expectations clearly and plainly known. We’re the ones who get all Gideon (see Judges 6:36-40) and keep asking God to make is unmistakably clear before we will act—only delaying the obvious out of fear or selfishness.
One example from the Old Testament, Micah 6:8 begins with the prophet asking the question he already knows the answer to: What does God require of you but to do the right thing (act justly), be kind (love mercy), and walk humbly with your God (author’s interpretation).
At one point in Jesus’ earthly ministry, he was asked a young man what one thing needed to be done to inherit eternal life. He did well on the keeping the standards of the day (teachings of the Law and prophets), so Jesus challenged him, nudged him toward greater growth: go and sell everything you have and give the money to those with need. This was too much for him, and he went away sad. Jesus seemed to be telling him that he can’t claim an eternal reward when the temporal needs of those here are so massively obvious, and we can do something about it. There will be no riches taken into heaven, so invest them here in those with need.
But I digress…
When Kris read the scripture Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, I began to weep. I have been here caring for my mom for nearly two years. Two years away from my husband and family. Two years away from the job that is my calling. Two years separated from friends. Two years feeling like I’m wandering in the desert and looking for the Promised Land.
Honestly, I find myself resentful and angry, depressed and discouraged. I cannot count the times I have cried out to God, “Why am I here? Why now? How long? When will I get on with life?” I know that I am needed here. But why do I need to be here?
I have taught on numerous occasions from the story of Jesus feeding the multitudes that God wastes nothing. So my head knows and believes that even this time when I am not where I want to be, doing what I want to do, will not be wasted by God.
Only I can choose to waste this time.
Can I just tell you that awareness sucks? I haven’t been living joyfully, prayerfully, or thankfully. Maybe on the surface…but not deep within. Not where it counts.
So…I have a couple of choices. Now that I know what God’s will, intention for my life, is: I can go away sad and unchanged because it’s too much to ask; or I can determine to live more fully and actively into God’s expectation and will for me and trust that the opportunities to live out my calling will present themselves—perhaps in ways I never imagined or even knew could be for me.
I think I’ll choose the latter. Because I’ve walked the route of the former and it is an unfulfilling, lonely, and futile path…and I was made for more than that.
And so were you.
Let’s get our rejoicing on, our prayerlife going, and our gratitude overflowing. Perfect season to be thinking, moving and growing this way.