Headline: God's Will: The Ultimate Certificate

Posted on: 2015-01-27

Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not, a sense of humour was given to him to console him for what he is. (Francis Bacon)

"Insha Allah: By God's grace  

If Francis Bacon is right, what exactly has been given to man to make him take responsibility for his choices? Nigerians normally claim to be doing God's will in life. For good measure, we invoke the grace of God to be able to accomplish our dreams. "By God's grace", "Insha Allah", "pelu ogo Olorun", all meaning the same thing, fall from the lips of Muslims, Christians and adherents of traditional religion alike. At times in resignation, we denounce the will of God as the explanation for unpleasant events. Fortunately, God in his infinite majesty and wisdom, does not complain in the face of such allegations. He is big enough to take all that human beings ascribe to him, from the  truthful to the deceptive (Ps. 8:1-10). The question that comes to mind however is: Can  human beings benefit from the effects of their claims of always acting by God's will and grace? It is an issue well-worth reflecting upon.

Of resistance to God's Spirit

It used to be fashionable at the beginning of each year to make a New Year Resolution. Such resolutions serve as value-setters for those who make them, for if you do not decide on where you are going you will surely never get there. Prone to being broken though they may be, New Year resolutions usefully set out the rules, the goal posts, the positive targets which serious-minded people aim for, and by which they define their choices. Sadly in recent times there has been less emphasis  on this useful practice at the start of a new year and more on acquiring new material accessories; position, looks, cars, clothes, flats, etc. Jesus Christ set out his own mission road map, admonishing his disciples to be counter-cultural and to make more space for spiritual things. What a useful rule for the beginning of the year! "One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4). "It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh cannot help" (Jn, 6:63). Man's non-adherence to those words boils down to the primordial resistance to God's will which goes all the way back to Eden. David lived with the problem and prayed: "Create in me a clean heart, o Lord and renew a right spirit within me" (Ps 50: 1). Even God pledged his resolve to help man with his spirit: " I shall put my spirit within you and move you to follow my decrees and keep my laws"(Ez. 36:27). Jesus emphasized the same: "From the father I will send you the Spirit of truth" (Jn 15: 26). Still, man, at best, often approximates God's will to his own desires and that is the source of all his woes.

Follow God's instruction manual

Believers in God must synchronise their will to their Creator's will. The story of Samuel in the Bible presents a wonderful mantra of submission to God. Having been brought by Hanna, his mother, to live in the house of the Lord in fulfillment of her resolution, the young Samuel soon had a strange experience. As he slept one day he heard the Lord call. Not knowing what to make of the voice he went to wake Eli, the old prophet, who responded that he had not called him. At the third time Samuel was called, the old prophet knew that it was God calling the youngster and put in his mouth those words which have become an anthem for those who serve God. "Here I am Lord, I come to do your will" (1Sam. 1). Many psalms echo those same words of Samuel and show adherence to God's will as guarantee for his answering prayers. Would you use a new appliance without the instruction manual? Sensibly not! Well, God's will is the instruction manual of your life. Submission to it is expressed by other superstars of faith in the Bible even when God visited them with trials. Job said "if we receive good from the hands of the Lord, how shall we refuse evil". Mary, the virgin of Nazareth, said: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done unto me according to your word". The greatest, Jesus of Nazareth when his parents were looking for him said: "Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother" (Mk 3: 36). He also submitted completely to the will of his Father in the garden of Gethsemane, "Father if this chalice cannot pass over me if not that I drink it, may your will be done". In teaching his disciples the ideal prayer Jesus told them to say: " ....your will be done on earth as it is in heaven". Doing God's will is the foolproof manual that keeps the human being working at best capacity.

Your spiritual certificate

The will of God always means good for his children (Jer 29:11) but it is our duty to discover that will. To do that, Christians must engage more the Holy Spirit and trust less their gut feelings. Too many people today shop for prophets and soothsayers of all shades and character, who only confirm their will and wish over God's own even when they clearly know the truth. Yet, after all the "helter and skelter", God will have the final word. His will must prevail over all for all creation is powered by him. Well, it pays to get attuned to that reality. To have done his will shall be the ultimate certificate to show when we meet God. Do you have your certificate?