We know that ultimately God has control of all, but we have to deal with people all the time. And with people, we have a terrific lack of control from time to time. This leads to final question # 5:
When God gives me a message and I know what to do, can people get in the way of me taking action to do God’s work?
Yes They Can.
This is a fascinating twist on the theme that Dr. Willard has been working on in his whole book. For the most part, we have discussed his ideas with the implication that God is totally in control.
But people in our lives can really mess us up.
Dr. Willard refers to this as the fact that we are all involved in a “Cosmic Conflict.”
We may indeed feel that we know what to do. Specific God communication has come our way. But we live in a world of people that may not be “on the same page” as we are. Romans 12:2 says “Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world.”
What does that mean?
It basically means that we need to do what is right as followers of God; do not do what is popular.
We are surrounded by people who will bring darkness into our lives and these people can cause trouble that makes us question whether we are doing the right thing, but Dr. Willard cites John Wesley as he reminds us “Best of all, God is with us!”
Wesley and Willard have confidence that even in the dark times God does not desert us, [Romans 8:28] “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” We must hold on to our faith as people come against us and circumstances get in the way of our plans, but God will prevail.
Dr. Willard even gets more complex in his explanation when he speaks of God’s role in the person who is working against you doing His will. “[In] Others [who] may be involved, …they may not know or may not do the will of God. And God may not override them.”
Could God override them?
Of course He could.
Dr. Willard says that our world is a crucible of soul making. In case you are not familiar with that word, a crucible is a ceramic or metal container in which metals or other substances may be melted or subjected to very high temperatures. When you hear that a Christian is in a crucible, this means he or she is undergoing a severe test or trial.
Maybe, just maybe God is wanting to see how we can overcome the people who stand in our way. Job passed his test; can you?
You know the difficulty you face when you go against convention. People don’t want you to try something new. They don’t want you making a stand. They distrust your new direction.
They want you to stay the same way you have always been.
Yes, the will of God can sometimes be unfulfilled due to some of the people around us in our lives. They have choices to make as we do and if they are not doing God’s will, they may indeed be serious stumbling blocks.
We are too quick to blame our failing on ourselves…our lack of courage, our lack of faith, our lack of skills.
But maybe we need to look at the people around us.
People in your life can support you and encourage you. But we all know that there are people who are very discouraging. We all know that there are people who are very negative. We all know people who don’t care about anyone but themselves.
There is a phrase that Pastor Joel Osteen uses at the beginning of his church services.
The phrase goes like this: “as children of God, we are overcomers and more than conquerors and God intends for each of us to experience the abundant life He has in store for us.”
This is a good phrase to have in mind when people in your world begin to attack you when you are just trying to do what God has told you.
When people get in the way, God knows that this is a real problem. Always remember, God will show you the way…
The way of the overcomer…
The way of the conqueror…
The way of the believer who is enjoying God’s abundant life.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”