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What does Good want for us?

March 17, 2012

I've written before about what God wants from us.
What does God want (from us) - June 10, 2011
What else does God want (from us) - July 16, 2011

This time - it's What does God want FOR us.



He started this whole thing - literally everything - but it isn't just a one way street where He wants more and more from us and gives nothing in return. (BTW - that was a description of Satan that I just gave.)

There's always something that triggers these articles - and this one is no different. The thought comes from Frank Peretti's new book - Illusion. Since I'm not even halfway through yet, I don't know what's going to happen with the two main characters - but here's a short clip from one of their conversations.

First - here's the overview of the book from www.barnesandnoble.com -

Dane and Mandy, a popular magic act for forty years, are tragically separated by a car wreck that claims Mandy’s life—or so everyone thinks. Even as Dane mourns and tries to rebuild his life without her, Mandy, supposedly dead, awakes in the present as the nineteen-year-old she was in 1970. Distraught and disoriented in what to her is the future, she is confined to a mental ward until she discovers a magical ability to pass invisibly through time and space to escape. Alone in a strange world, she uses her mysterious powers to eke out a living, performing magic on the streets and in a quaint coffee shop.

Hoping to discover an exciting new talent, Dane ventures into the coffee shop and is transfixed by the magic he sees, illusions that even he, a seasoned professional, cannot explain. But more than anything, he is emotionally devastated by this teenager who has never met him, doesn’t know him, is certainly not in love with him, but is in every respect identical to the young beauty he first met and married some forty years earlier.

They begin a furtive relationship as mentor and protégée, but even as Dane tries to sort out who she really is and she tries to understand why she is drawn to him, they are watched by secretive interests who not only possess the answers to Mandy’s powers and misplacement in time but also the roguish ability to decide what will become of her.

Frank Peretti has crafted a rich, rewarding story of love and life, loss and restoration, full of twists and mystery. Exceptionally well written, Illusion will soon prove another Peretti classic.

So - the excerpt is a conversation between the teenager (speaking first) and Dane (the man who lost his wife <Mandy> in an accident, but sees so much of her in this teenager) -

If this was a delusion, it was stunningly accurate. He never liked it when Mandy got like this, and yet—

"Sure, grieve, but . . . May I sit down?”

He gestured to the couch and she perched on its edge.

“You think your wife would want that, after all that traveling and magic and adventure, you just chucking the whole thing and turning into an old raisin? I know what she’d say: buy some testosterone, get a motorcycle, do whatever it takes to get living again, but don’t waste the years God still has for you. You believe in God?”

“Yes.”

“Well, so do I, and I think you should give Him some credit. He might know what He’s doing.” Then, as if realizing her mouth had run off without her, she rolled her eyes heavenward in amazement and horror at herself. The deer-in-the-headlights look that fell over her face was so comical it amazed him. “Oh-oh. Big oops.”

And yet, when Mandy got like this, she was always right. As long as he had ever known her, and in some of the darkest times, even through tears, Mandy could find this jarring, “Get real” way to be right.

This teenager - whoever she turns out to be - really gets to me.

She's totally lost - and you can't help but pull for her -
and be happy every time something goes well for her.

She reminds me of us - people who are in a world that we aren't really "of".
We're here - obviously - but we are meant to be somewhere else.
There's a passage in John Stanley's Practicing Basic Spiritual Disciplines that sums this up, with a reference that we all will be familiar with -

The Bible teaches that we as believers are in this world, but we are not to be of this world. As believers in the world, we must abide by natural laws, live within the constraints of man-made laws, and provide for ourselves within the “systems” of this world. But we are not to have the same desires and lusts that the world exhibits. We are not to have the same dreams, goals, or hopes. Rather, we are to desire with our whole hearts that God’s will be done on this earth. As we pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven”

Also - in John 18:36, we see Jesus saying “My kingdom is not of this world."

So - we're here in this world - but we want to be where Jesus is in His world.

The teenager in Illusion is in some world that she doesn't belong in - but wants to be somewhere - but doesn't really know where because she's so "lost". But she still remembers and believes one thing -

"...but don’t waste the years God still has for you. You believe in God?”

“Yes.”

“Well, so do I, and I think you should give Him some credit. He might know what He’s doing.”

God knows what He's doing - we might want to give Him some credit.


So - I looked up the word "plans" in the NIV just now - to see what it says about our plans and His plans. It occurs 39 times.

A lot of them have something to do with the plans of men - and how God is the One really in control - such as in Job 5:12 -

Job 5:12 He thwarts the plans of the crafty,
so that their hands achieve no success.


But what if we want to be like the teenager in Illusion -
what if we want to give God some credit -
what if we give Him a chance to show that He knows what He's doing?
How can we do that?

There's three occurrences of "plans" that work very nicely to tell us how to do this -

Pr 16:9 In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.


Pr 19:21 Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD'S purpose that prevails.

These two tell us that God is the one in control.
In essence - if we want what's best for us - don't fight God - go with Him -
give Him some credit -
admit that He knows what He's doing.


The third one tells us something about how to do that -

Jer 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jer 29:12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.

Jer 29:13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.


From the Book of Job - we can read of a man who questioned the plans of God -
a man who wanted to speak with God about these plans -
a man who actually got to speak with God.
If you have time and haven't read it - it's a great book.
If you just want to check out God's reply - it starts at Chapter 38.

At the beginning of Chapter 42 - we see what Job has to say about God's plans -
after listening to God -

Job 42:1 Then Job replied to the LORD:

Job 42:2 “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.

Job 42:3 You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.

Job 42:4 “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’

Job 42:6 Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”


The teenager in Illusion -
she's past the point of questioning God -
she gives Him credit -
she believes that He knows what He's doing -
in spite of everything that's happening to her.

It seems that every time something good happens to her in the book -
she's saying that it must be "a God thing".


I wish I could be like that -
remembering so often about the "God things".


That brings us to the question of What does God want for us?

It's not such a simple answer -
because we can't really see things from His point of view -
and in spite of what we are told by pop culture - we aren't all the same -
He has different plans for each of us.


Paul talks about our individuality in Romans 12:1-8 -

Living Sacrifices

Ro 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.

Ro 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Ro 12:3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.

Ro 12:4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,

Ro 12:5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

Ro 12:6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.

Ro 12:7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach;

Ro 12:8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

So we can see - rather than everyone being the same - we are actually meant to be different - according to God's plan.


Where does that leave us?

"...but don’t waste the years God still has for you. You believe in God?”

“Yes.”

“Well, so do I, and I think you should give Him some credit. He might know what He’s doing.”


Give Him some credit.
Give Him a chance to show that He does know what He's doing.

Then you'll see what Paul says the Philippians in Phil 1:3-6 -

Phil 1:3 I thank my God every time I remember you.

Phil 1:4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy

Phil 1:5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now,

Phil 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.


There's an assumption in what Paul says -

he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus

The assumption is that He ... began a good work -
Of course - that can only happen if we let Him begin.
The first step to that is to
give Him some credit -
and of course to recognize that
He might know what He’s doing.

If you're like the teenager -
if you're not happy where you are -
if you want something more -
remember -

"I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Give Him some credit. He might know what He’s doing.


It's worth a try - go for it.

Let God give you hope and a future.