‘Thy’ will vs. ‘my’ will, part 1

a guest blog entry by Will Faircloth   |   fairclothcostarica.com

When we talk about intimacy with the Lord and daily walking with Him, one of the issues we must always face is that of God’s will.  We speak of wanting to be ‘under His will’, or of casting ourselves on Him in faith ‘that His will be done’.

Many times, though, this phrase is simply used to mean, “whatever ends up happening”:

  • I didn’t get the job I applied for? Must not have been God’s will.
  • She said “no,” despite the fact that I proposed marriage using multi-colored sky writing? Must not have been God’s will.

man behind the curtainWe can see the problem here: it turns divine will into simple fate, and God becomes the Wizard of Oz – some guy with questionable intentions who’s invisible behind a screen, pulling levers we can’t even understand.

Now there are lots of reasons why this is an incorrect view of God and His will, and maybe we’ll get into those later.  But what interests us right now is the connection between God’s will and our will, the things we want to happen, and how we try to understand the relationship between what we want and what God wants.

It may be helpful to think of this topic as a spectrum of opinion, with two clear extremes, and most of us somewhere in between.  The two extremes could be called ‘Calvinist Extremism’ and ‘Osteenian Extremism’. (By the way, I’m pretty sure no one has ever turned Joel Osteen into an adjective, so bear with me.)

  1. The Calvinist Extremism view says, “You are a vile worm, devoid of any good thoughts or positive desires.  Even the very best things you hope for are just idolatrous lies, since left to your own devices, you are incapable of anything good.  So just admit this, and know that God’s total sovereignty will keep things running fine.”
  2. Osteenian Extremism could be summarized by the phrase, “your best life now”.  This perspective says: “God just wants you to be content and surrounded by all the desires of your heart.  God knows what’s best for you, and (guess what!) what’s best for you is all the stuff you already want for yourself!  So just sit back, you wonderful dreamer, and trust that whatever comes out of your heart is good and right.”

Again, I’m not interested right now in what’s right or wrong about these perspectives and I admit to sharpening them up a bit for the sake of argument.  What’s important now is to see what these perspectives do to us, to our ideas about life and the plans we make.

In the extreme Calvinist view, there’s basically no point in planning or wishing or hoping for anything in this life.  If life is a plate of ashes and woe, then great!   Or if everything I touch turns to gold, then great!  That’s what the all-sovereign Lord as given me, and I’ll dig in.  I don’t need to dream or plan for anything, because it couldn’t possibly change the course of my life.  So I distrust anything of my own invention, because the Lord’s will is going to trump it all, anyway.

At the other end, ‘my best life now’ is all up to me: all I need to do all day is think about how much more awesome my life could be!  Bigger house, newer car,  thinner television – my Heavenly Father is ready to indulge every desire of my sweet little heart.  And I can trust every thought I have, since I’m a royal son of the King, the Lord of the cattle on a thousand hills.  Since God’s will is just my will spoken in a louder voice, then I can go through life confident that whatever I plan, the Lord is already ahead of me.

Can we see how starting with a particular view of divine will influences how we think about our own human will and the plans we make in life?  Surely we can find lots of problems with each of these extremes, but aren’t we all somewhere in between?  How can we find a point of healthy balance between God’s will and our will?

In my next post, I will offer what I believe is a simple and practical answer to this question.  In the mean time, I invite you to leave some feedback here!

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