August 21, 2012

Waiting on God for my to-do list

Often, the will of God is clear. I know what I should do, at least in a general sense, and what activities to avoid. Yet when it comes to specifics, like picking a topic for Bible study, or getting involved in an area of need, I am not always certain. If I watch a movie about the terrible conditions in prison, I wonder if God wants me to support prison reform. If I read a book about child poverty, I wonder if that should be on my priority list. There are so many needs. One person cannot cover all of them. I’m having questions about what God wants me to do.
This morning, my devotional reading directs me to a verse about Christian ministry. Note, good works are not to earn or deserve salvation, but are a result of being transformed by the grace of God.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8–10)
I used to think this was a specific set of activities and ministry that God had lined up for me, but now I’m not so sure. A great sermon on the will of God points to all the verses that use those words, and ends up by saying that if I am saved, sanctified, saying thanks and obedient to those verses, then I can do whatever I want. The reason? Because my delight is in God, He will put desires in my heart, desires that indicate the work that He wants for me.
Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)
Part of delighting in the Lord is putting off the old sinful way of life and putting on the new life I have in Jesus Christ. “Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22–24).

It seems that God isn’t as interested in my to-do list as He is in how I do it. He choose me to “be holy and blameless before Him” (Ephesians 1:4) and “to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10).

He even says, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31) and whatever I do, in word or deed, it is to be done “in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17). I am, in whatever I do, to “work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23).

So far, the “delight in the Lord” part is in place, but for “the desires of my heart” are still a bit muddled.

Lord, I’m trying to make plans, but know that You say I am to wait on You and trust You with all my heart, not relying on my own understanding. If I acknowledge You in everything, You will give me clear directions and a straight path (Proverbs 3:5–6). It is the waiting part that is hard.

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