So here we are, in our series on Grace, examining God’s Will. And unless you are a fan of the rebooted TV show, Will and Grace, we don’t often hear those two concepts in the same sen-tence. There are plenty of people that will talk about finding God’s will, seeking God’s will, know-ing God’s will. And there are plenty of people that talk about God’s grace and its abundance and how we are saved by grace alone. But we often talk about them as though they are two separate people— two sides of God, rather than being one in the same. Why is that? Why is it so difficult for us to think about God’s will and God’s grace together? Could it be that we can’t fully understand either of them, unless we see them together?
For example, we often use the language of God’s will when we are trying to make a decision. We ask, “Is it God’s will that we go in this direction? Or that I take that job? Is it God’s will that we adopt a child or pursue another degree?”
Ron was wondering what God’s will was for his life and career. He prayed and prayed and prayed about it, but felt that God was being very silent. He wanted to know that God approved, that indeed God was calling him to this career he wanted to pursue. After many months, in a moment of frustration he yelled out to his empty room, “God, what do you want me to do?” And there, in the silence, he heard a voice— not like an outside voice; but not like his own voice either. And the voice said, “I don’t care. Just serve me.”
In that moment, Ron began to laugh as relief flooded through him. He had been trying so hard to discern God’s will, and in that crucial moment, God offered him grace, freeing him up to make his decision.
Another place we often look for God’s will and receive God’s grace instead, is when we ask “why” questions. The disciples experience this when they are walking with Jesus one day and see a man born blind. They ask Jesus, “Is it because of his parents sin or his sin, that he was born blind?” The disciples are convinced that it is God’s will that this man was born blind— that God was punishing him because of someone’s sin, whether his or his parents. But Jesus responds, “Neither him or his parents. This happened so that God’s mighty works can be displayed.”
So Jesus spits on the ground, makes mud with his saliva, and spreads the mud on the man’s eyes, telling him to go wash in the healing pool near the Temple. And when he comes back, he is able to see.
But the ironic part, is that while the whole town goes haywire trying to figure out how this miracle happened, and the religious leaders keep trying to find someone who will say it isn’t true, you get the feeling that the true miracle is that the man who used to be blind is the one who sees who Jesus is— he bows down to worship him; while the religious leaders— the ones who have always had their sight, are blind to what God is doing in their presence. The disciples, the reli-gious leaders, even the townspeople— they are all looking for answers to the question of God’s will. And what Jesus offers them instead, is grace; healing; new life. And it is the one who used to be blind who sees Jesus— truly sees him— and accepts all that Jesus has to offer him. God’s will and God’s grace, together.
Those of you who have come today because you have had a loved one pass on, I want to share with you today that while it was not God’s will that you have suffered, it is God’s will for you to receive healing. It is God’s will for you to be surrounded by grace as you journey the path of grief. It is God’s grace that you have come this far. The questions we so often ask as humans, questions like why, and whose fault is it, and what was the purpose of their death? Those are not usually questions we get answers to. Instead, I have found that a far more helpful question, is, “Can I trust this God? What is this God really about? Do I know this God— of Jesus and the Holy Spirit?”
In Revelations we see a beautiful vision of people from every nation, tribe, people, and language, coming together to worship God. And what’s beautiful about it, is that they all come joyfully, willingly, anticipating the God they trust and worship.
You see this isn’t a God of coercion. This isn’t a God of abuse. This isn’t a God who uses vio-lence and control. It is very clear in this passage of Revelation, as the people come to see the Lamb— Jesus— that this is a God who is willing to be vulnerable, willing to be loved or rejected, willing to forgive, a God whom we worship out of love and freedom alone— not out of trepidation or fear of the consequences if we don’t. And as all the people from every place in the world come together, more numerous, we are told, than can be counted, it is asked who they are; and the answer is that these people have come out of great hardship, but now that hardship has ended. No longer will they hunger or thirst. No sun or scorching heat will beat down on them, because Jesus will lead them to life giving water and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
We may not be there yet, but we will be one day. We will be at God’s feet, worshiping God day and night, and knowing God’s will and God’s grace together. And Christ will offer us life-giving water, and we will know; we will know that we are loved; that our loved ones are loved; and that God is love. And that that’s all that really matters.