Suppose I wake up tomorrow morning and God lets me know that He wants me to spend the day working on a new sermon based on John 3:16. Okay class, how many individuals are involved with me either doing that will by preparing that sermon or not doing it by spending the day doing something else? Answer: One. In a situation like that, God getting His will done isn’t that hard because all He has to do is somehow get me to work on that sermon.
Now let’s suppose that I wake up tomorrow morning and God lets me know that He wants me to spend the day doing yardwork with my brother Richie. Okay, now how many individuals are involved in whether or not God’s will gets done? Answer: Two. I’m still involved, but now Richie has entered into the equation as well. This means that God getting His will done is now twice as hard because He has to convince not only me but also Richie to do the yardwork. If one of us is obedient but the other isn’t, the yardwork won’t get done, at least not in the way God wants it to get done.
Now let’s suppose that I wake up tomorrow morning and God lets me know that He wants me to spend the day with two preacher-friends of mine visiting the elderly at the local nursing home. Okay, now how many individuals are involved in whether or not God’s will gets done? Answer: Three. I’m involved and so are my two preacher-friends. This means that God getting His will done is now three times as hard because He has to convince not only me but also my two preacher-friends to do the visiting. Even if two of us are obedient but the other isn’t, the visiting won’t get done, at least not in the way God wants it to get done.
By now you can see where I’m going with this. When it comes to God’s will, the more people who are involved the less likely it is to get done. Putting it simply, one weak link ruins the chain, which means that a higher number of links equates to a greater chance of the chain failing. It’s basic math.
Several years ago I was elected as the pastor of a church that was deeply divided over a particular issue. So, I spent my first few months there gathering the relevant information on the issue and figuring out what God wanted me to lead the church to do. Over the course of those months, I spent countless hours in prayer, seeking God’s guidance, dying to my own agenda, and asking Him to show me His will. It was a lengthy, time-consuming, arduous, process. By the end of it, though, God had given me His answer and that’s what I led the church to do. Thankfully, most of the members agreed with the direction.
There was, however, a minority group who disagreed with it, and one of them talked with me afterward. I told her how much I had prayed about the decision, how open-minded I had been to doing anything that God wanted done, and how confident I was that this direction was His will. But I’ll never forget her response. Concerning the answer I had received from God, she said, “That’s just not what I’m getting.” You see, that woman and I were at an impasse because one of us was in the wrong as to our discernment of God’s will.
While it was true that the majority of the church had agreed with the answer that I had gotten, the majority could be wrong. I knew that. But what I did trust was my own process of working through the decision with the Lord. I hadn’t gone into that process with any preconceived notions. I hadn’t reached an overnight opinion. I hadn’t made a snap judgment. Consequently, her words, “That’s just not what I’m getting” didn’t cause me to quake in my shoes and question the direction in which I had just led the church. Instead, they made me realize more than ever how hard it is to get God’s will done in a fairly large setting of people.
Now, I’m happy to report that I eventually patched things up with that lady and she remained a faithful member of the church. I’m also happy to report that over the years I’ve managed to mend most of the fences with the rest of that minority group. I’d be lying, though, if I said that I’ve mended them all. I’m always open to the reconciliation, but they aren’t. Such is the life of a pastor, I guess. I trust that we’ll get it all straightened out in heaven one of these days.
To get back to the point of this post, though, one reason why God’s will rarely gets done in this world is the problem of the weak link. It doesn’t matter how submitted you are to doing God’s will, if you’re involved in a “chain” situation you are at the mercy of another (or others). If you think this is frustrating to you, imagine how it must be to God. Perhaps this is why He oftentimes does His best work through individuals. When He can get one-on-one with a person, that makes it so much easier for Him to get His will done.
So, today, let me encourage you to be that one person who seeks God’s will and does it. No, you can’t make everybody else follow your example, but what you can do is make sure that, as much as depends on you, God’s will gets done. That’s your link of the chain. And the good news is that even if the chain breaks down somewhere past you, you simply carrying out your link will make a sizable difference not only in your life but in the lives of others. Count on it.