God’s will. That term has been thrown around so much that it’s hard to discern what it really means. What is God’s will for us? What does God want us to do? What does it mean for us to do foot work and leave the results in God’s hands? Is there really a God and does (S)he even have a will for us? These are all good questions for us to ponder because I know for myself – I struggle with the concept of “God’s will.”
God’s Will and Life Events
There’s an old saying from the country of my ancient ancestors, I’ll translate it for you: “Man makes plans and God laughs.” All of us can relate to this concept – just look back at January of last year. Did any of us have COVID-19 on our mind at that time? Would I have bought a new car, had I known it would sit in my driveway for six months, like a very expensive paper weight? What plans did you make that were not founded due to the disruption of the past year? Was COVID-19 really God’s will? Or does stuff just happen and we have to adjust to it? No matter what the answer is to that question – the next question is still the same: Now what?
There’s a story about an entry level janitor who worked at a company. His manager adored him and appreciated how hard he worked. He wanted him to become the senior janitor at the company but there was one problem. The policy of that corporation was that anyone who worked for the company had to have a college degree. So when the manager approached the senior staff about promoting his star worker, they didn’t allow it. In fact, when the they learned the janitor didn’t have a college degree, they made the manager fire him. The manager was distraught, but when he let the janitor go, he gave him a paper bag with a sandwich and two red apples as a way to make sure the janitor would have enough to eat that day.
The janitor was sad, but he accepted his fate. He ate the sandwich and stood on a busy street corner with his two apples in his hands. Someone approached him and asked if he’d sell the apples, which he did. He then took that money and went to buy more apples. He sold the apples on that street corner, taking the proceeds and buying more fruit to sell.
Soon, he had a small fruit stand where he sold fruit to the businesspeople passing by each day. His business became so profitable, he upgraded to a storefront, not far from that street corner. Year after year, his business grew and increased until he became one of the most successful businessmen in the city.
A local newspaper reporter came to interview him about his life and amazing career trajectory. How he’d gone from selling 2 apples to a multi-million dollar operation. When the businessman told him the story of being fired for not having a college degree, the interviewer said, “can you imagine what you could have been had you had a college degree?” And the businessman said, “Yes, I could have been a janitor!”
God’s Will vs. Our Will
Using the story above, the janitor could have responded by being angry, resentful and victimized by his circumstances. He could have been mad at God, reactionary toward his old boss or just gone home and taken it out on his family. Instead, he saw an opportunity to start a business. It was a humble beginning. He sold one apple. If we are willing to believe that we have choice on how we perceive life’s experience, we can respond by saying, “What can I do about this situation right now?” The answer may be as simple as, “go eat lunch and see what happens next.” You never know – you may meet someone who wants to buy an apple.
We don’t know why things happen in life. Ray Edwards says, “Things don’t happen to us, they happen for us.” https://rayedwards.com/464-2/ I love Ray Edwards. He’s a professional copywriter and happens to have a lot of experience in the realm of pain. When he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, he could have responded by feeling victimized and downtrodden. But he chose to respond rather than react. I love listening to his podcasts as they help me realize we have choices on how to respond to life. We can’t change how circumstances present, but we can change how we respond.
Can we ever know what God’s will is for us?
I don’t know what God’s will is for me or for anyone else. But I do know that God whispers for me to trust. My job is to do ‘footwork’ or do the next right thing in front of me. The answer will come in whatever form it comes in. For instance, did anyone else ever play Dungeons and Dragons? I played it in video form back in the 1980’s. It’s amazing how every time I was about to meet an opponent, I found just the right sword a few moments prior. Even when I lost the battle, I had the tool I needed to engage in the battle at the exact right moment I needed it, and not a second earlier! I just had to trust that I would have everything I needed exactly when I needed it.
Trust God – Because God has not taken me this far just to drop me on my head!
Here are the steps to trusting God:
- Ask for God’s help. Even if you don’t believe in God, believe you’re not God. And ask the universe to have your back.
- Take account of what the problem is – is it financial? Did I cause it (overspending, living beyond my means, trying to buy happiness?) Is it romantic? (Am I in an inappropriate relationship i.e. is the other person unavailable to me? Is the other person abusive/unkind to me?) Is it situational? (I hate my job, my roommates, my present circumstances?)
- Ask for the Willingness to change whatever the problem happens to be. (If I hate my job, pray for a new one, send out the resumes, start or continue to network. If it’s romantic – I have to pray for the willingness/strength to get out of the problem.)
- Be willing to spiritually, ‘Let Go’ of your problem. My spiritual advisor used to encourage me to keep a “God Box” where I’d write out my problems and physically put them into a box. I would then check it every six months and see what problems I still had. Most were gone. Sometimes a few remained, and I’d keep them in there for another six months.
- Take action to change what can be changed
- Help another person change something in their life. It’s funny how focusing on another and doing good deeds for others, spiritually changes us. My friends, even during COVID, went and cleaned out someone’s apartment (while they were in the hospital.) Whenever I can be of service to someone else, God has the ability to enter my life and fix whatever problem I think I have.
Let me know if this helps clarify God’s will for you. Until we meet again, may you be blessed on your spiritual journey!
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