In the words of a good friend of mine, I am a “go-getter”. The moment I set my heart on something, I pursue it. Whether or not it’s meant to be, is not my concern, my desire for that particular thing, drives me. This is a great quality to posses, with a huge downfall.
Like all of you, I have made plans, paved my own path and often times dictated to God what my life will look like. The idea that I can make my own choices and carve my destiny is a juicy one, after all, we have free-will don’t we? While I won’t attempt to argue the issue of free-will, I am making one point and that is that the best thing we could do is find ourselves
“In the Center”.
In the Center of what? God’s perfect will for our lives.
This was a lesson I learned a couple of months ago, while standing under an umbrella in the Biblical Town of Gennesaret in Israel, as Dr. Widbin an ATS professor and guide for the ATS Israel trip, shared the story of the demoniac. For those of you who might not know the story it goes something like this: Jesus arrives to this town by boat. Immediately upon leaving the boat, he encounters a severely oppressed man. This madman lived in the tombs with uncontrollable strength, and spent day and night crying out and cutting himself. After a brief encounter, Jesus commands “legions” to depart from him and into a herd of pigs nearby. The pigs then run off a cliff and drown. People from all throughout the region come to see what had taken place. It was duly noted that the once madman who lived in the tombs was no longer in severe bondage, this scared them, so they asked Jesus to leave. Mark 5:1-17
BUT this is not the part of the story that moved me. It’s what comes next: ”As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. And he did not permit him but said to him, ‘Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.’ And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.” Mark 5:18- 20
Here was this man truly set free, with a good intention to follow Jesus and yet Jesus denies him and tells him to stay in the place he knew only through a lens of bondage. All throughout his journey, Christ asked others to “follow him” but on this occasion, when a man asked to follow him, he told him to stay. And although it was NOT what the man originally wanted, he obeyed and though not noted in the gospel of Mark, that entire town eventually became Christian.
Often times we want to pursue things, we make plans, we have goals, and we ask the Lord to bless them, especially as seminary or college students (whether in Nyack and ATS or elsewhere). We try to figure things out, rather than simply seek God in the waiting. Instead of saying “God, here is my will, do it.” We should be asking: “God, what is your will?”
The center of God’s will isn’t always going to take us where we want to go. I mean let’s be real, the center of God’s will took Jesus to a cross, but then an empty tomb three days later.
So the question isn’t : “God, will you bless my plans?” But rather; “What plans must I let go of? What ideas should I stop pursuing, in order to position myself in the center?”
Today as I remember what I learned on my trip to Israel with Dr. Widbin and ATS I have finally learned to ask: ”In what ways do I need to be obedient?” So that I can be in the Center of God’s perfect will for me.