Recognizing God's Action
Christopher B. Harbin
I am often asked about God's will and purpose. I often hear phrases like "That's God's will," "There is a reason for everything," or "God has a plan." Yet often the very people making those comments are the ones struggling so hard to grasp at the very notion of identifying God's will. Is everything that happens around us God's will? If so, there would be little point of trying so hard to find it. We might do better to identify the character of God's actions, such that we might recognize God's will as it takes effect in and around us. Seeing it for what it is can help us direct our own steps in the paths of God's purposes.
Ezekiel was called to become a vessel of God's communication. The words we read in Ezekiel 2:1-5 are emblematic of so much of the Old Testament witness to God's take on Israel. They were disobedient to God's will, looking more like the nations than a people called to belong to Yahweh God of Israel. They were not fulfilling God's will. That they were yet a chosen nation was due to God's grace and mercy. The words of the prophet declared clearly that their forefathers had not been faithful in fulfilling God's will, either. God's plans and purposes did not look like the realities seen in Israel. Not everything that happens is of God, nor is it part of the plan.
Paul spoke of a man whose experience transported him before the throne of God. Paul accepted the experience as real, yet as no reason for gloating. The gospel and will of God for Paul were not about ecstatic experiences, hidden mysteries, or revelations that made the recipient something special. Rather, God's revelation should point to God. More to the point, Paul spoke of his own weakness and suffering as a reminder from God of our need to depend on grace instead of our abilities, strength, and self-worth. Weaknesses should point our attention to God, by focusing attention away from ourselves. Pride is little ...
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