Blooming Where You’re (Trans) Planted
Outside of choosing a spouse, there may be no more snarled intersection than that place where we seek to understand our calling, and the sovereign will of God. We know that we are called to exercise dominion. We know that we have been equipped with a certain set of skills or gifts. We know, if we are the head of a household, that we have an obligation to meet the needs of our family. We know also that in the grand economy of things, God controls the economy. We know that His sovereign will will come to pass. What we don’t often know if just what that sovereign will is.
We want to know whether we should take this job, or move to that town. We want to know whether we should acquire certification in this field, or train for that industry. God knows all these things, and wouldn’t it be just grand if He told us? The future is a cake walk when we know what it is. We grow frustrated in our desire to know His will for us, what He would have us do.
It is all too easy for us to confuse the revealed will of God and the sovereign, efficacious will of God. God’s revealed will is simple enough- it is His law, what He commands that we are to do. His sovereign, efficacious will might also be called His hidden will. It is that will by which He brings to pass all things. God commands Joseph’s brothers that they do unto him what they would have him do, that they not sell him into slavery. But God ordained from all eternity that they would do just that. Why, you might ask, would He then still find fault with the brothers? Who, after all, could resist His will? Paul addresses just that issue in Romans 9. Take a look.
Our more immediate problem is that we want to know what God has determined not to reveal, the future. What we ought to want is to be busy about the business of what He has revealed to us. He has told us that whatever we do we ought to work heartily, as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23. Wherever we are, whatever work we are doing, whatever hopes and dreams we might have, we can be within God’s will not by probing the secret things, but by obeying the revealed things, by being diligent and faithful in our work.
It is not strictly true that God’s sovereign, efficacious will is hidden. We can know God’s will in this sense. All it takes is a bit of patience. You can know what God ordained with utter certainty– after it happens. We cannot know His sovereign will looking forward (save what He has in fact told us- We know that every knee will bow, that every enemy will be conquered, that we will be like Him because we will see Him as He is) but we can surely know it backward. It was, for instance, God’s will that I would move my family to Virginia to plant a church and start Highlands Ministries. The return of my family toOrlandoisn’t evidence that we were “outside God’s will” when we left. Nor is the fact that we miss being there evidence that we are outside His will now.
David tells us that we ought not concern ourselves with lofty things (Psalm 131). His son tells us to eat our bread with joy because God has already approved what we do (Ecclesiastes 9:7). Here then is how our work and His will intersect. It ought to be our will to work. It is His work to will.