Perfect or Permissive?

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I think that no matter how old you get there is still a child inside that we have to notice every now and then, today my inner child stood up and had something to say. She asked me “What are you doing with your life now?” A friend sent an email to me that started this thought process … maybe you have done the same, or maybe you should, think that is. As I began writing my answer things poured out of me that I had forgotten were there and I am going to share a part of it with you dear Reader: When I was about 10 I watched the B&W movie Joan of Arc, Ingrid Bergman in the title role, on our little TV. As I lay there on my stomach watching as she was tied to a stake and the fire was set that would take her life, I thought it was the most wonderful thing I had ever seen to see someone so willing to give their life for what they believed, I was totally enthralled. I had listened to my dad recount the details of the martyrdom of the Armenian people and I always felt that I would never, ever be good enough to pay my ancestors back for giving their life. Then I watched the Bells of St Mary’s; again with Ingrid Bergman, and Bing Crosby, I was totally impressed, this time with the Nun. I thought the life of sacrifice, of the Nun giving her whole life married to God, would be the life I needed to live, something I could do to help me repay those who had died for Christ at the hand of the Muslims. No surprise that when I told my Pentecostal Preacher dad that I wanted to be a Nun, he had a few other suggestions. He never put me down for it, but explained that I could live a life of service to God without living in seclusion, that my life would be worth more helping people out in the world. Back to the present, that girl surfaces often, those are the days I search my heart to see what it is I can do. I have never shared these thoughts out loud until this morning when I wrote that email to my friend. I asked the question of my friend, “Should I share these thoughts?” As yet I haven’t gotten an answer, but decided to share it with you. I used to discuss the subject of God’s Perfect Will vs. God’s Permissive Will. How do we know the difference? What is God’s permissive will? One of the greatest examples of God’s permissive will is found in the story of Israel’s desire to have a king (I Samuel 8). The Israelites lost sight of the fact that God was their king and they demanded an earthly king. They wanted to be like their neighbors and have a courageous, handsome, gifted man to lead them into battle. At first God resisted, stating the obvious drawbacks: a king would force them into servitude, take their best livestock, crops, and even children. But the Israelites were determined. So God relented, he gave in and allowed them to have a king. Their numerous years of pain and suffering from this decision are chronicled in the next 150 pages of the Bible. What is God’s permissive will? It is most easily understood when we first discuss God’s perfect will. I believe that God has a perfect plan for your life and my life. He’s omniscient and caring – he knows what is best for us, and has planned accordingly. We discover his perfect plan by seeking Him through his Word, His Spirit, and His people. Unfortunately, in our flesh we often pursue a plan that is different from God’s perfect plan. Yet we are sincere, desiring to follow God. We just don’t have the Omni benefits that God does. So, we earnestly pray, we beseech God, we are persistent, and God relents, he gives us our desire (even though it is probably not in our best interest). How does this apply to our lives? It applies to relationships, to careers, to family decisions, to how we handle our finances, even to our physical health. At this point in my life, and if you have made choices that you aren’t happy with, we have to carry on, turn it all over to God and ask Him to take the rags of our life and make a beautiful garment of Praise!

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