Friday, May 22, 2020

Making Plans (Pt 3)

1 Corinthians 16:7 says, “For I do not want to see you now just in passing. I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits.” This week I have been writing about planning in life, ministry, and work. Three principles are illustrated for us in 1 Corinthians 16:5-9. The first is to hold plans loosely. God may have other plans. Second, learn to listen to God and embrace opportunities for ministry that he places in our path. I wrote about these principles in earlier blogs. The third principle is to embrace the freedom to choose, to pursue your desires within bounds. Of course the boundaries of those choices are what God allows and what he teaches in the Scriptures. But, within those bounds he gives us freedom to choose.

I have often heard people say, “I’ve been praying about what decision to make, but I haven’t heard anything from God.” Maybe God is okay with either decision. Maybe he doesn’t care if you buy the blue car of the red one. Maybe he is okay with whether you take the job with the most pay or the one with the most free time. When we are truly listening with the right heart and we do not hear clearly from God, there are several possibilities. God may be saying, “Wait.” God may be asking, “Did you seek wise counsel as I instructed in Proverbs?” God may be saying, “Make a choice. I am okay with whatever you choose.” It is this third possibility that we sometimes struggle with.

If I pull up to the drive through window at Dairy Queen, I don’t really care if my grandchildren order vanilla cones or chocolate cones, but I do want them to order before the people in line behind me get irritated. I do believe that sometimes God leads us clearly in a specific direction. He may strongly impress me to visit a particular store, or take a particular route home. Maybe that it to avoid something bad. Maybe that is to encounter a ministry opportunity. I need to learn to listen well. But usually God isn’t particularly concerned with which route I take home. I have the freedom to choose.

Notice the phrases, “I want” and “I hope” in 1 Corinthians 16:7. Some of us need to learn to listen better. But some of us need to loosen up and learn to enjoy the freedom God gives. Later, in verse 12, Paul wrote, “Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to visit you with the other brothers, but it was not at all his will to come now. He will come when he has opportunity.” Notice that he doesn’t say, “It was not God’s will,” but that “it was not at all his will to come now.” Paul and Apollos had different ideas of what should be done, but Apollos had the freedom to embrace the choice of his desire. Some of us need to learn to listen better, but some of us need to loosen up and learn to enjoy the freedom to choose that comes from God. There is freedom in following Christ.

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