Hearing from God is a serious subject and Dr. Willard knows that.
When messages from God are discussed, it is important to consider all aspects of the topic. Let’s look at some scriptures.
“Everything that happens in this world happens at the time God chooses.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-15
“He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17).
Psalm 115:3 “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.”
Proverbs 16:9 “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”
Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Second Chronicles 20:6 “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.”
What is the focus of these scriptures?
They all seem to support the idea that God is totally in charge.
Not seeing God in everyday Life
But is God totally in charge?
How much of what happens on this earth can be attributed to God and how much of what happens on earth can be attributed to man?
When something happens, what is the cause? One would turn to the scripture above and say “Well of course, it is God. He is totally in charge.”
However many people experience life and do not see God in anything at all.
Those people find themselves unable to decipher messages from God and Dr. Willard states they can make “no sense of what is called ‘divine guidance’”. So how can anyone say that God commands them or God is in charge of them and what they do?
These people call what happens in life “blind force” or “fate.”
God is in charge of all of life
Others take the idea of being in charge to the dangerous extreme that God is so in charge of everything that man is not in charge of anything.
This is the idea that decisions that I make do not count because I am an ordinary person.
Let me say that this can cause a person to lose their faith in God.
I do make decisions and some of my decisions are bad. I literally get in the way of the wonderful life God has in store for me and that is a shame. But it happens.
To say that God controls all my choices is incorrect. To attribute all that happens in the world to God—both the good and the bad–is incorrect. Man gets in the way of God’s plan all the time.
All evil in the world comes from acts of man, not God.
Confusing a Desire of Man for a Message from God
Some people are devout followers of God and they earnestly seek God’s guidance. There is nothing wrong with that but one should be careful. Too often a personal desire can creep in and become a “message” from God. Too often a person can act on a whim and that can be their “message” from God. Some people may have dangerous routines that can lead them far from receiving a real message of God.
I had a friend who sought God’s guidance and he was what many considered a devout Christian. Very frequently when he was in the midst of times of indecision he would take his Bible and drop it on his desk [on the spine of the Bible]. The Bible would open up to a random page and then he would close his eyes and point to a place on the page. That was his message from God.
Good routine or bad? You decide.
Messages of God used for the Power of Man
Lastly we have people who are intent on having earthly power and they use messages from God to get their way. What are we talking about here?
Examples could be David Koresh and the Branch Davidian disaster of 1993. Toss in Jim Jones and The People’s Temple in 1978.
On a more personal level, my son had his first experience as a member of a jury in Chicago. The trial was to determine the guilt or innocence of a man who was accused of molesting his own daughter over a period of time. The man took the stand and cited scripture that was supposed to justify his actions.
These people felt they heard from God but did they? I wonder if God was just a way for them to exercise power over others.
This is man’s madness justified in the name of God.
Before we consider messages from God seriously, we need to admit that some of the greatest misunderstanding of God’s messages comes from man as he tries to interpret the messages.
As in human communication, the message can be sent, but that does not mean that it is understood.
The sad fact of the matter is the old communication adage, the “meaning of the message is in the receiver.” Certainly a wonderful message from God can be messed up by man.
Man can take good intentions of our Lord and Savior and not be able to see them, twist them around to his desires, or even manipulate a “message” as a way to grab power.
Obviously there are many scriptures pointing to the idea that God is in charge but that does not mean that man is not there, messing up God’s plan.
When you get down to “brass tacks”, you have to admit…
We can mess up a good thing…
Even a word from God…