For years as a young man, I was taught that God had a plan for my life that was specific and detailed regarding what I was to do, who I should marry, where I should live. It was quite a burden. I worried lest I make a mistake in any area, for such a mistake would have a domino effect on everything that followed. If I married the wrong woman, it would forever after mess things up for her, for me, and for those "we should have" married. And what if I didn't read the signals correctly about what work I was to do, or where I was to do it? Under these conditions, a mistake is not merely a mistake, but a disaster that threatened to unravel all of life.
I have a lifetime of decisions behind me. Nearly forty-seven years ago, I married the woman whom I chose and who chose me. I suppose each of us could have chosen someone else and been happy, but we didn't. We chose each other, and have been happy with the life we've built together. Once we made that free-will choice, God's will was clear to both of us: we stay together, learning to love each other, treating each other with respect and kindness. We haven't done that perfectly, but we've fulfilled God's will as it is spelled out in Scripture. It was our choice to do it where we did and how we did, but we have done it, and will continue to do it until one of us lays the other into the arms of God.
We've tried to live with integrity and faith. We've stepped out into the unknown, attempted what for us were great things, made mistakes along the way, and have known success and failure. We've found God's will quite clear: live by faith, treat people with love and grace, give and receive forgiveness, live in holiness and purity. Everything else has been choices God has given us freedom to make. I can't say it was God's will for us to spend the bulk of our lives in a little village in Western New York. We freely made that choice, and found God's will in it as we've lived according to his Word.
The reason I reflect on this today is that I've been reading in Joshua 1, where God told Joshua it was time to cross the Jordan and conquer the Promised Land. I can't claim to have heard such clear command from God for much of anything in my life. I've been challenged, and have tried to meet those challenges with strength and courage, but the commands have been few. For that, I am grateful, for at this time in my life when I no longer have a job and a specific ministry, I would be in a panic, not having some great calling before me. Instead, I have the clear command of God to continue living with integrity and faithfulness, and the freedom to choose from the many challenges that are placed before me. I don't have the responsibilities of a job, but I do have the responsibility once I choose to do something, to do it as best as I can. I am thankful I can do so without any feelings of guilt when I decline an invitation, and with peace in my heart that God continues to use the desires and interests he placed within me to give him glory as I exercise whatever gifts and graces I have to serve him and the people he puts into my life.