When they grew up, Abel became a shepherd, while Cain cultivated the ground. When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord. Abel also brought a gift—the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected. Genesis 4:2B - 5
Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. Ephesians 1:4
So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. Colossians 1:9-10
The subject of "God's will" is not an easy one to get a handle on. So let's use an analogy to help us explore this very important subject. Imagine that God has placed you at the edge of a field of rocks. The field is about the size of a city block and the rocks vary in size, color, shape, mineral make-up, etc. God says to you, "go and find the rock that is meant for you and bring it back here. Before you go, here is a pamphlet of instructions to help you in your quest."
So, you decide that siting down and reading the pamphlet is the best way to begin your quest. You learn that the field is divided into 4 quadrants that are clearly marked and then you read these very important words, "from the top right quadrant you may not choose your rock." Of course that "narrows the field" significantly. You finish the pamphlet and come up with 5 important guidelines about choosing an acceptable rock: (1) it must be able to be held in one hand but not so small that you could hold more than one rock in your hand; (2) it can have any combination of red, yellow, black, or white coloring, but it cannot have any blue, green, or purple coloring; (3) it must have a bumpy surface; (4) it must be a rock that you would be pleased to have as your rock; and finally, (5) from the moment you step on the field you may not take any longer than 8 hours to make your selection.
With this good beginning to your quest, you look out over the field and the challenge you face doesn't loom so large as when you first looked out over the field before you read the pamphlet. But still, you have a lot of ground to cover and only so much time. As you go along in your quest, you soon realize that rocks that meet your criteria are not going to be readily found and you feel the weightiness of your challenge. On the other hand, you are glad for the clearer understanding of what you are looking for, because it means the vast majority of rocks in the field are eliminated from your search.
After about an hour into your search, you realize with a great deal of excitement that you are holding in your hand a rock that meets all the criteria. So, you travel on holding it in one hand. About two hours later you find another rock that is acceptable. Again, you are excited and then resume your search with a rock in each hand. You have been at it another hour when a realization suddenly strikes you. If a third rock is found you will not be able to carry all three rocks and you will be forced to make a decision to leave one of the three behind.
You know that you found the two acceptable rocks in the first quadrant and there are still two other available quadrants. You know you only have 4 hours left. You know that if you spent the rest of your time searching you would find other acceptable rocks and a decision would need to be made each time. You know that if you had all the acceptable rocks in front of you, it still would come down to a decision and it would be even harder. You then realize you don't need to use all the available time and you don't need any more acceptable rocks. You simply put one rock on the ground and walk back to where you started. When you get back, God says, "well done, enjoy your rock."
This analogy will be helpful to us throughout the week as we explore the subject of "God's will" and as we look at "faulty" approaches for determining God's will. Remember, it is an analogy and doesn't touch on everything we need for a full understanding of God's will. We will add additional understandings as we go along. For today take some time and find things in the analogy that correspond to real life and the pursuit of God's will. In particular, in what ways does the analogy help you with the faulty approach of thinking there is only one right rock (You are encouraged to listen again to Pastor Ben's excellent explanation of the myth of "The one right door" from his message this past Sunday). Also, look for correspondence between our Genesis passage and the analogy.
There is relief that comes to us when we realize we don't have to find "the one right rock" out of all the possible rocks out in the field. It is important that we guard ourselves from viewing God's will as finding the one right rock beforehand, while understanding that the rock we choose becomes the one right rock afterwards. We will look at this more fully as we move through the week and we will explore the role of God's guidance in decision making as well.
Lord, we ask you to give us complete knowledge of your will and to give us spiritual wisdom and understanding. May the way we live always honor and please you, Lord, and may our lives produce every kind of good fruit. Grant that we will keep growing as we learn to know you better and better (from our Colossians passage). Amen!
Posted on Tue, August 11, 2015
by Alan Porter