Thursday, March 06, 2008

We Will Please God As He Wills

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit" -- yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
James 4:13-16
Even when it comes to worship, the Lord wills how we will worship Him even though we might have other ways we think would be the best way to go about doing so.

This morning as I was praying, God reminded me that the reason I wasn't able to go see Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church and author of the newly published book The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, speak at Stanford last night (even though I had planned to and was really looking forward to it) is because of what James says in these verses.

I love this passage and I might be one of those people who says "Lord willing" more than people care to hear =). But I am especially struck by the fact that God doesn't just will whether I live or not in every moment but He wills whether in living I do this or that, from something as big as whether or not I will get married and have kids, to something as small as whether I go see Tim Keller or not.

I am teaching one of the adult Sunday school classes at my church, Lord willing, this weekend and next to cover for one of my pastors who is going to preach at a church that we are partnering with in San Mateo to try to help revive and rebuild because it is slowly dying (from over 100 down to about 15 people at this point). I agreed to teach in the middle of last week after I had determined to go see Keller. So I just purposed to do as much prep as I could on Monday and Tuesday so that I wouldn't have to do as much Wednesday and I could go see Keller. But God gave me NOTHING in preparation on both Monday and Tuesday. That has never happened to me before in preparing to preach/teach. So I woke up Wednesday morning and felt clearly from the Lord that I needed to spend the whole of Wednesday night in preparation for my teaching this weekend and next even though I really wanted to go see Keller. This very well could have meant God would again have me sit in front of a brick wall as it felt like He in some ways did the previous two nights. Then I would have been really bummed that I didn't go see Keller. Well, I didn't go see Keller. And let me tell you, it was like the Holy Spirit opened up the flood gates of revelation last night in His Word in a way that was completely shut on both Monday and Tuesday. And yet there was nothing distinctly different about Wednesday. A mystery to me.

God didn't will for me to go see Tim Keller last night. Why? I'm not really sure. But it doesn't really matter to me. I'd like to watch the video of the event. Maybe I will. Maybe I won't. All I know is that God clearly wanted me to instead spend Wednesday night worshiping Him by soaking directly in His Word. And I know that I am all the more richer than I otherwise could have been as a result.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
Proverbs 3:5, 6
I praise You, Father, for even the small reminders like this that You are God and You do what You please in my life. As much as I may sometimes think I know what most pleases You (would I not have worshipped You last night joyfully listening to Tim Keller testify about You and Your Son?), the reality is that I don't. Teach me, teach us, I pray, to scorn such evil and instead to continually come with hands emptied of our own knowledge and hearts joyfully submitted before You with humility as You carry out Your infinitely wise purposes in our lives for Your glory and our joy. In Jesus' name, Amen.