Psalms 57-59

Romans 4


“But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles…”    — Galatians 1:15-16


The fact that God has a plan for our lives is one of the most reassuring aspects of the Christian life. The idea that our short lives on earth fulfil an eternal purpose gives us a deep sense of significance and security. Yet it can also be troubling, because it seems so notoriously difficult to find and enjoy God’s plan with confidence.

        The Apostle Paul certainly believed that his life and vocation were preordained. He was set apart not from the time of his dramatic encounter with Christ on the Damascus Road, nor from his ensuing transformation in Damascus; he was set apart by God from birth. Paul’s life was not a haphazard affair, but one steered and directed in fulfillment of the will of God. He lived with a sense of divine coordination and purpose as a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle.

        With the antiquity of history and the brevity of records available, we are in danger of compressing Paul’s lifetime into a few paragraphs, thinking everything neatly fell into place. But in reality, Paul’s service to the Lord after becoming a believer was a long, complicated journey, unfolding over decades of unexpected turns—to Paul, not to God—and prayerful discernment. The personal will of God is always clearer in retrospect than in prospect. The pattern is always easier to discern and explain looking back over past events than in anticipation of prospective events.

        Paul taught that what we see is unreliable, which is why the Christian life is lived “by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Our confidence lies more in the hidden and unseen than in the seen and obvious. We may assume that men of Paul’s stature enjoyed a more immediate sense of God’s divine will than we ever will, but this would not be a fair conclusion. We may have recently submitted our lives to Christ or are on the verge of doing so, but this does not come as a news flash to God. He knows the path we will choose and, as He did with Paul, already has His plans in place for us.

        We may learn broad principles of God’s will from Paul’s writings, but feel there is little of the down-to-earth practical calibre that helps us confidently find and do God’s will in the nitty-gritty of contemporary life. But despite the struggles and uncertainties of life, Paul was confident, as we must be, of the fundamental truth from which the personal will of God derives: that obedience to God’s general will for all people is what makes possible the discovery of His specific will for each of us.


PRAYER: Sovereign Lord, thank You that Your plans for my life are already in place. Help me to live by faith and not by sight and to step fully into Your specific will for my life. Praise You!


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