Once a month at First Baptist Church Evergreen there is a Saturday morning men’s breakfast. Although I loathe anything labeled “Saturday morning”, these times of fellowship have been very encouraging. For the last two months Pastor Drew and I have been speaking on great heroes in church history and this coming Saturday I have the responsibility of telling the life story of John Calvin in about 25 minutes.
Without spoiling anything for Saturday, what is most striking about studying and teaching the stories of these servants of old is the way God orchestrates the events of their lives to coincide with His purposes and plans. Just in the 16th and 17th century alone, pivotal years in the life of the church, we reflect on giants such as Luther, Calvin, Tyndale, Zwingli, Bucer, and Knox, and discover some rather shocking truths in the way their lives were used by God, truths that stand in rather blatant contrast to our contemporary understanding of knowing and doing the will of God. It must have been a great joy for Calvin, who placed God’s absolute sovereignty at the center of his theology, to reflect back on his life during his declining years and see the ways he was used that had absolutely nothing to do with his own master planning, 5 step process, or 6 week “knowing God’s will” Bible study. For example:
Calvin was moved from university to university by his father because his father kept changing his mind about what he wanted Calvin to do. Through these changes in university, Calvin met some influential people in his life, people who were friendly to the reformation.
Calvin, while fleeing France because of persecution, was forced to take a route through Geneva. It was the only road open at the time due to imperial conflicts. He would stay there the rest of his life (except for a brief period in exile).
Because of a controversy that arose in the elements of the Lord’s Supper, Calvin ended up being exiled to Strasbourg where he ministered, wrote the second edition of the Institutes, and married.
In other words, much of what happened in Calvin’s life, what we would understand as “God’s will”, happened as Calvin was simply living life day by day. The more I study these great giants of our faith, the more I see how God brings about his will in our lives much of the time without giving us the recipe beforehand. Not that we shouldn’t plan and prepare, on the contrary, having a vision and goal is biblical and commendable. Just know that usually God will intervene and direct your life in very unforeseen ways. I am becoming more and more irritated with “here is how you know God’s will” books, sermons, and discipleship courses (although there are a few good ones out there). In a future article I will highlight verses that describe God’s will and, amazingly, they have nothing to do with whether or not you should change jobs. God certainly cares about your job and has a definite plan in store for you concerning your job, but our obedience to God’s will is to get closer to him everyday. To be a people of prayer. To love on others as best we can. To love the church and faithfully serve her. And to live day by day, knowing that God is faithful to do what God will do.
That is something I am all to happy to be learning. Because I can promise you, a year ago today I would have never imagined I would be writing this article sitting in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. But here I am.