I have been pretty stuck on Ephesians 1 for, oh, the last two months or so. My latest curiosity has been comparing the prayer of Paul in Ephesians 1 with his prayers in Philippians 1 and Colossians 1. But back to Ephesians.
I love how the chapter starts with a clear outline of our given identities as children of God. In a few short verses, we are blessed, chosen to be holy and blameless, predestined, accepted, redeemed, forgiven, and lavished with the riches of His grace. It’s all to the praise of the glory of His grace, which I’ve already posted on but absolutely delights me every time I think about it.
What has my attention now, though, given the stage of life many of my friends and I are experiencing, is verse 9, which discusses the mystery of God’s will. At first glance, my thought was, “Yes! I knew that God’s will seemed mysterious sometimes, and here’s proof!” But that’s not the point of the verse. In fact, Paul is saying just the opposite when he notes that:
“…having made known to us the mystery of His will…”
So a back-tracking we go. Paul liked to write long sentences with lots of clauses and dependent clauses, and depending on your translation, verses 7-12 may be one or multiple sentences. In any case, the mystery of God’s will that has already been made known to us, according to His “kind intention” or “good pleasure” doesn’t mean “Work at XYZ.” It has a whole lot more to do with redemption through His blood (vs.7), the forgiveness of sins (vs.7), and the supremacy of Christ (vs.10). Surprise, surprise…it’s all to the praise of His glory (vs.12).
This is my normal perspective on God’s will. It’s from the trying-to-figure-it-out point of view:
And this is probably a little closer to the perspective Paul is teaching in Ephesians 1:
I see God’s will as a mystery of the details I don’t know, which seem to loom large on the horizon. My perspective is from inside the mosaic of life without any idea what the tiles around me look like. God sees His will as the mystery of how He would reconcile a lost world full of people He desperately loves to Himself. Jesus came, and now the secret is out!
I do think that God knows and cares about the details of life. He has made ways for me so many times, and I’ve only been around for 23 years! When I hear the stories of people who have known Jesus for 60, 70, 80 years, it only encourages me to trust Him more. In the meantime, I am trying to adjust to a new perspective. Instead of thinking of salvation and restored relationship with my Creator and Father as something to assume and take for granted, I am grateful that He sees the big picture and made a way for me in the most important need of my life. Compared to the reconciliation of the world to Himself, the what, where, when, why, who, and how of my life are well-within His hands.