“So, brothers and sisters, because of God’s mercies, I encourage you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God. This is your appropriate priestly service. Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature.” (Romans 12:1-2, CEB).
This meditation is a hands-on lesson in how God works in our lives. Give it a try.
- Take a blank sheet of paper and in the middle of the sheet of paper write in large letters:
- Then in the top left-hand corner write in smaller letters:
- Fold the paper in half folding the bottom half behind and to the top so that the words are still showing.
- Then fold the paper in half folding the right half behind and to the left so that the words are still showing.
- Again, fold the paper in half folding the bottom half behind and to the top so that the words are still showing.
- And, again fold the paper in half folding the right half behind and to the left so that the words are still showing.
- You should now have a small square of paper in your hands that is 1/16th of the original paper size with the words printed on it: GOD’S PLAN FOR MY LIFE. These words probably fill or almost fill the small square of paper in your hand.
Here’s the point of this exercise:
We like to think of God’s will as something that is being revealed a little at a time. It’s like something we discover as if it is unfolding before us.
Actually, finding God’s will is more like folding than unfolding. It’s more like the displacement of our own will in favor of God’s will. It’s a place God leads us, not a place we discover.
Following Jesus requires sacrifice–offering our own bodies and our own will to Him for His use. To realize God’s perfect will for your life is not so much a matter of Him revealing it to you a little at a time (unfolding). It’s more like Him covering up all your mistakes and heartache, putting them behind you, and using those to move you closer into His perfect will (folding).
Imagine your life is like the full sheet of paper. When circumstances or problems arise in your life, God folds them over into His Perfect Will with His grace and love and moves you a little closer to His plan for your life. God uses the circumstances of your life to move you closer and closer to Him as you learn to sacrifice or displace your own will in favor of God’s Perfect Will.
This folding continues over and again as the circumstances of your life–bad and good–are folded into His will for your life. Eventually, the big sheet of paper of your life that was your own will becomes that small square of your life that is focused completely on God’s Perfect Will.
God doesn’t unfold His plan into your life; God folds your life up into His plan.
It’s not necessary that you understand God’s plan. What’s required of you is that you trust that God has a purpose. “Many plans are in a person’s mind, but the Lord’s purpose will succeed” (Proverbs 19:21, CEB).
When you’re living out God’s will in your life, then there’s a higher purpose in all the circumstances of your life. There’s a higher purpose in the middle of your pain; there’s a higher purpose to your achievements when your life is a living sacrifice to God’s glory.
So, when life doesn’t work out like you planned, you don’t have to try to scrutinize and decipher why God would let this happen to you. All you have to do is trust God that He has a purpose for you. All you have to do is make another fold of your life into God’s perfect will.
And, as an added bonus you will find that it takes some of the stress out of stressful situations when all you have to do is trust God rather than try to figure Him out!
My plans aren’t your plans, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my plans than your plans. (Isaiah 55: 8-9, CEB)