|Good morning everyone,|
Our theme for this month: “Great thoughts from great Christians”
Our Bible verse for today: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)
Our thought for today: “God often lets us choose for ourselves”
Dallas Willard is in heaven now but during his lifetime he served as a professor of philosophy at the University of Southern California. He was also a pastor, the mentor of pastors, and the author of many important books about living the Christian life well. In his book, “Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God” Dallas shared an insight that was very helpful to me as a young Christian regarding this business of hearing God and understanding his will.
Up to that point I believed that God wants to direct my every thought, word, and deed. Therefore, I was looking for explicit instructions about how to earn a living, and what to have for breakfast; how to raise my children, and how to mow my lawn. I really thought God had something specific to say about all of it and I was frustrated that I wasn’t hearing from Him like that. Then I read this from Dallas Willard: “Generally speaking we are in God’s will whenever we are leading the kind of life he wants for us. And that leaves a lot of room for initiative on our part, which is essential: our individual initiatives are central to his will for us.”
Dallas illustrated that important truth with an example from how he parented his children. When they were young, he would often send them out to play in the fenced backyard. There were some basic rules, such as they were to stay within the boundaries of the backyard and they were to behave themselves according to the standards of conduct he had taught them. But beyond that, they were then to choose for themselves if they wanted to play in the sandbox, swing on the swings, play with the dog, throw a ball, sit under a tree and read, or any number of other activities. Any of those choices on their part were just fine with their father, as long as they stayed within the established boundaries of location and conduct.
Dallas’ point was that as their father he wanted his children to learn how to use their minds and to make good choices. He didn’t want to dictate every thought, word, and deed for them. He wanted them to learn to think for themselves. And that’s how God deals with us. He gives us boundaries we are to stay within, but then He gives us the freedom to think for ourselves and to make choices. He wants us to learn how to use our free will in ways that honor Him and which bring us a sense of joy and fulfillment in life. As the old saying goes, “God gave you a mind and He doesn’t mind if you use it once in a while.” He was the One who created us with intellect and free will and the ability to reason things out and to make good choices.
As Proverbs 3:5-6 teaches, if your heart is right and you truly do want to honor God, just stay within Biblical boundaries, use your judgment to think things through, make the choice that seems best and most appealing to you, then relax and enjoy life.
God often lets us choose for ourselves.
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