February 19, 2012

Will of God

We’ve reached the end of our study of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 and Philippians 4:4-9. Paul has led us on an exploration of steps to leading a life of joy in the Lord. He concluded by telling us that this kind of life is “the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18b). Further, living a Spirit filled life of rejoicing, prayer, thankfulness will offer us “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

As we saw the end of January, the ‘peace of God’ is not necessarily a warm, fuzzy feeling. Indeed more often it is the action that results from living a life based in Christ and responding to God’s call on our lives.

Over the past 7 weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to explore these parallel passages in greater depth than I’d ever taken time to do. At the beginning, I shared that the verse from Philippians, “Rejoice in the Lord always” has been my ‘go to’ verse when I’m feeling down because it was the charge given to a confirmation class in the 1970’s. Now I understand that it is part of a fuller exploration of a life committed to letting go to God.

One step in letting God be in control and accepting the will of God is believing that God values us-for who we are NOW! There is a song by Jason Gray: “Remind me who I am” that is the cry of many hearts.

When I lose my way,
And I forget my name
Remind me who I am
In the mirror all I see
Is who I don't wanna be
Remind me who I am
In the loneliest places
When I can't remember what grace is

Tell me, once again who I am to You, who I am to You
Tell me, lest I forget Who I am to You, that I belong to You, to You
When my heart is like a stone,
And I'm running far from home
Remind me who I am
When I can't receive Your love
Afraid I'll never be enough
Remind me who I am
If I'm Your beloved
Can You help me believe it


I'm the one You love
I'm the one You love
That will be enough
I'm the one You love

I suppose we all have days where we think that the one we see in the mirror “is who I don’t wanna be” and days when “my heart is like a stone, and I’m running far from home.” The video of this song is a moving reminder that no matter what we have done, we are indeed loved and beloved.  Each of us has something we are not proud of. The Good News of our faith is that we are not trapped in the past or mired in the bad things we have done. All that is removed and erased in God through Christ.

Living the life outlined by Paul in these passages helps us to stay grounded and reminded of Whose we are. Practicing the disciplines of rejoicing, praying, giving thanks and looking for the good things around us help us hear the Voice calling us each “beloved.” Paul doesn’t promise it will be easy, but that it is the “will of God for you.” A prayer I learned a long time ago, which turns out to have been turned into a song by Glen Campbell and others, is yet another way to live out the precepts we’ve explored over the past couple of months.

Let me be a little kinder, let me be a little blinder to the faults of those about me.
Let me praise a little more, let me be when I am weary just a little bit more cheery.
Think a little more of others and a little less of me.
Let me be a little braver when temptation bids me waver.
Let me strive a little harder to be all that I should be.
Let me be when I am weary just a little bit more cheery.
Let me serve a little better those that I am strivin' for.
Let me be a little meeker with the brother that is weaker.
Think a little more of others and a little less of me.

When we are grounded in God, we look at the world and those around us differently and we think “a little less of me”, then we come closer to living the will of God in our lives. I’ve learned some things on this study of the two passages and hope others have to.

Next week brings us to Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. During Lent, we are on a journey-a road to Jerusalem. Like Dorothy in Oz, we are each seeking a way to ‘get home’ and find the love and security that can only be found in God. Hebrews 11:13-16 reminds us that we are “strangers and exiles on the earth…[desiring] a better country…for [God] has prepared for [us] a city. Jesus “set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51) because he knew that his journey would open the door for us, to that city. Dorothy found herself on a long road through Oz to find someone to help her get home. Jesus also travelled a long road to the Holy City. Come follow their paths and see how it might change your Lenten journey.

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