“Now may the God of peace . . . make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen” (Hebrews 13:20,21).
There is nothing “objective” about God's attitude toward us. We are creatures brought into being by His love, and when a way for us to be redeemed could only be purchased by the life of His Son, He did not stop short of making that sacrifice. The question of our well-being is one in which He has a vested interest, to say the very least. He is for us. He is on our side. He is passionately biased in our favor. There is nothing good for us in this whole wide world that He is not eager to provide.
There is a sense in which God is eager to do good for every person He has created, even those who show no respect to Him. Jesus said that “He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).
Then, there is a sense in which He cares for those who have
obeyed the gospel of His Son and who have remained faithful to Him. It is to
obedient Christians that Peter wrote, “Let those who suffer according to
the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing
good, as to a faithful Creator” (1 Peter 4:19). “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God,” he continued, “. . . casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6,7).
But there is a third point that must be made. Even when it is God's faithful saints who are under consideration, the needs that He is most eager to supply are those relating to His rule. When Paul made his familiar statement in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” he was not speaking of goals like making a million dollars or winning an Olympic gold medal. He was simply stating his confidence that Christ wouldn't let him go without anything he needed to do His, that is, Christ's, work.
Whatever God expects us to do to accomplish His purposes, He will help us do! And help in doing those things is what we ought to desire, far more than we desire His help with lesser concerns. In anything related to the gospel of Christ, we needn't worry about coming up short. He will "make [us] complete in every good work to do His will, working in [us] what is well pleasing in His sight.”
“God eagerly awaits the chance to bless the person whose heart is turned toward Him” (Anonymous).
“So he, trembling and astonished, said, ‘Lord, what do You want me to do?’ Then the Lord said to him, ‘Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do’” (Acts 9:6).
When Saul of Tarsus realized the identity of the One who had appeared to him on the Damascus road, he asked the right question “Lord, what do you want me to do?" The awareness that he was in the presence of God was followed by a recognition that his life was seriously out of line with God's will. At that moment, he knew little of what would be involved in serving God, but he did understand that he needed to move in the direction of honest obedience. This man had a reverent, receptive heart, and he was ready to make whatever adjustments were needed to begin doing what God wanted. His question was simply, “Lord, what do you want me to do?”
Like Saul, we need to see that Christianity is an active endeavor, not merely an intellectual interest. Judging by our lifestyles, many of us apparently believe that being a Christian is nothing more than being “aware” of God's power to save us. But, in fact, Christianity is a walk, a changed way of life, a new manner of living. “Do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering,” Saul (Paul) would later write, “not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4).
So when we pray, what kind of help do we ask for? What kind of “light” do we seek? If we come to Christ with anything less than a desire to obey Him, we may get the same abrupt “welcome” that John the Baptist gave to some of his hearers: “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance” (Matthew 3:7,8).
The light that we should ask for is light to illuminate the road we're going to travel! If our interest in Christ is just an intellectual interest or if we have no real intention of traveling the road shown to us, then no light will be given to guide us. Guidance is only for those who're going somewhere! So if we're reaching forward, we should pray for light -- but our intention must be to move forward.
“O for a closer walk with God,
A calm and heavenly frame, A light to shine upon the road That leads me to the Lamb!” (William Cowper)
“And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there” (Acts 20:22).
In secular affairs, we usually want to know what's going to happen. Much of our planning is based on prediction: how can we be prepared if we don't know what events we'll have to deal with? And so we expend a lot of energy trying to forecast the future. A successful and safe “journey,” we think, depends on having a map of the exact territory we'll be passing through. And not only do we try to forecast the future, we try to control it. As much as possible, we want to pick our itinerary for ourselves.
In spiritual affairs, however, we have to learn a different kind of security. As Andrew Dhuse said, “God's will is not an itinerary but an attitude.” We aren't told what the future holds. The journey may take us along any number of different routes, none of which we can predict or be prepared for. So no map is given to us, only a Compass, and we're to be content to be guided by God.
In the course of doing the Lord's work, Paul needed to go to
Jerusalem, where there might be danger. But Paul could live with uncertainty.
With his heart fixed on God, he didn't need to know what was going to happen: “I
go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem,
not knowing the things that will happen to me there.”
Abraham is another example of how this works. Comfortable in
Ur, Abraham was called upon to let go of the familiar, predictable path he'd
gotten used to. “Get out of your country,” God said, “from your
family and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you” (Genesis
12:1). And Abraham trusted God enough to let Him decide
what territory would have to be traversed. “He went out, not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8).
Today, most of us have some definite ideas about the kind of life we want. We have one or two scenarios in our minds that describe the paths we'd prefer to take between here and heaven. But we need to be careful. We must not hold on to those scenarios so tightly that we can't let go of them. And we must not be too dependent on knowing in advance what kind of lives we're going to end up with. The truth is, we don't need to know the territory. We don't need a map. We only need a Compass that we can count on.
“Abraham did not know the way, but he knew the Guide” (Lee Roberson).