I want to have a discussion about will. Not like a last “will” and testament, or a shortened form of William. The great American philosopher and my high school math teacher, Gerald Wheeler, use to say to our class, “you seem to want to talk at will, but Will left the building”! What I want to talk about is God’s will. This has been a confusing and frustrating subject for me, for as long as I can remember.
Now if you read a blog or two that I have written, you will understand when I say that I am no bible scholar. I understand that God has a will, and if he wanted to, he could just make that happen in my life. He gives me a free will, so that I can make decisions, which usually end up leading me away from God’s will. I have been told that God has a “perfect will” for my life. But I have to wonder how perfect it can be, if I keep making mistakes and changing directions along the way. I think it could have started perfect, but I think perfect means flawless or without blemish.
I have started to think about God’s “perfect will” for my life more as His “perfecting will”. I have never heard any smart Christian people say the words “perfecting will” in the past, so it probably does not make common sense or theological sense, but let me try to explain. If God had a perfect plan or will for my life and an ultimate destination for me, in this life, I am sure that I have taken too many steps sideways and backwards to still be on the “perfect path”. I think many times, in my Christian journey, God has needed to say something like the GPS in my car, “you have left the planned route, recalculating”! By recalculating the route to my destination, He makes the best out of the mistakes I have made and forms a new plan to the destination. He is constantly perfecting His original “perfect will” to overcome my free will.
I know that God had a plan for me, from well before I was born. Psalm 139:13 says: For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I can know that he gave me the desire to be a doctor as far back as elementary school. Even though I tried to go a different direction by going to pharmacy school, he used several people, situations and successes to lead me back to a career in medicine. I suspect I felt His call to be a missionary from my early teen years too, but I rebelled and stayed as far from that as I could for many years. I am sure that I dodged God’s “perfect will” since I graduated my residency in 2000. I am not sure why I resisted. Jeremiah 29:11 says: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.
His “perfecting will” kept recalculating my route to get to a certain destination. A great Christian man and a mentor of mine, Rick Johnston, said in a recent talk that he gave on a Walk to Emmaus:
“For many years a part of my morning time with God has been reading Oswald Chambers “My Utmost for His Highest.” He has perhaps the best description of a life of piety in his devotion for December 24. I think about this one a lot.
When we think of being delivered from sin, being “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18), and “walking in the light,” we picture the peak of a great mountain. We see it as very high and wonderful, but we say, “Oh, I could never live up there!” However, when we do get there through God’s grace, we find it is not a mountain peak at all, but a plateau with plenty of room to live and to grow. “You enlarged my path under me, so my feet did not slip” (Psalm 18:36).
You see, I finally found the great plateau God had for me. I can work and play and be free to enjoy the life he’s given me. Your plateau is different than mine. Mine has things on it that may be sin to you. Yours may have things on it that aren’t a problem for you but they would be to me.
While I was in a small Ugandan village this last week, called Kiranga, I found myself leaned over listening to an older lady’s heart with my stethoscope. As I was doing this, I looked up and saw the church full of people crowding in to dodge the rain and to try to get needed medical care. Amidst all of this chaos, all of a sudden, I felt a rush of emotion as I suspected I was on that plateau that Rick was talking about. It felt like I was right in the saddle galloping along a wide smooth trail on that plateau. I felt my “perfecting will” GPS say, “Continue along the planned route”!