Wednesday, February 5, 2014

God's "Weekly Will News": A parable

Hobart had a tough week. Just like so many weeks. But he survived and made it to the weekend. The family would watch a movie together tonight as they did nearly every Friday night.

Saturday was filled with chores and errands. Sunday, there was church and a quiet afternoon to look forward to.

At church, the sermon topic was on God’s will. Hobart, as most other Christians did, truly wanted to know what God’s will was for his life. His specific life. What did God really expect of Hobart?

Hobart had wondered about this most of his life.

As the preacher went through the points of the sermon, Hobart thought, “I really wish God would send me a newsletter in the mail every week laying out His will for my life. Just put it in writing! That would be sweet.”

After church, the family went out for a nice lunch at the nearby buffet, as did many from their church.

At home, the kids did homework, played video games, and texted with their friends. Hobart read the paper and nodded off in his chair watching the game. His wife stretched out on the couch and napped along with him.

It was a typical, restful Sunday.

In the morning, as he did every weekday, Hobart was up early to get dressed and ready for work. The kids scurried to gather all they needed for school. His wife had a nice, simple breakfast ready for everyone. They prayed together, ate quickly, and were off for the day.

At work, when he walked into his office, Hobart noticed a brightly colored envelope on top of his inbox that hadn’t been there when he left Friday evening. His office had been locked all weekend and no one was in the mailroom, so he thought it very odd that he had a new piece of mail waiting for him.

All that was on the envelope was his name above the company address, a cancelled stamp, and where there should have been a return address, it read, “Weekly Will News.” Hobart had never heard of such a news source.

He opened the envelope and pulled out what appeared to be a typical newsletter. It was only one sheet of paper and there was printing on only one side. The design of the newsletter and the lettering were very well done. It looked impressive.

The heading echoed the return address. The main headline was “Weekly Will News,” and directly below that the line read “Specifically For Hobart.”

“This is very odd,” thought Hobart. And then a chill ran down his spine as he recalled how yesterday during the sermon he had silently wished for a newsletter from God!

“Oh my!” he said out loud as he scanned the page.

Laid out very elegantly were seven Bible verses, one for each day of the week, beginning with today, Monday. There was also a “bonus” verse at the bottom of the page.

 “That’s all? That’s it?” Hobart said out loud quietly. “Just Bible verses? What kind of help is this? How does this show me God’s will for my life? This must be some kind of joke.”

He folded the page and put it back in the envelope and started to toss it in the trash. But, for a reason he couldn’t discern, he instead put it in his briefcase.

With that, he put the newsletter out of his mind, turning his attention to the day’s business.

===

Later that day, Monday, as Hobart presented in a meeting with colleagues, he felt really satisfied with himself as others seemed impressed with what he was sharing. He was certain what he had to say was more insightful than what anyone else could share.

A few hours after the meeting, as he was mentally reliving the presentation, he suddenly realized he had misspoken on one point.

“Oh no!” he said to himself as his face reddened with embarrassment, realizing that it was at this point he thought he’d detected a little snickering in the room.

He had felt so confident and proud about his presentation that he’d failed to review it carefully one last time before the meeting and he missed his error. That afternoon when he went for coffee in the break room, a couple of his colleagues gently teased him about the mistake. Outwardly he laughed along with them, but inside he felt humiliated.

===
 
On Tuesday, after work, when he got home, his wife let him know that she and the kids would really like to go out for pizza. She had had a really busy day and didn’t feel like cooking dinner. The kids had been slaving over their homework since getting home from school and could use a break.

“What?” exclaimed Hobart. “I’m tired, too! I don’t want to go out! I just got home! Can’t you just throw together some leftovers?” With that, he and his wife were in the middle of an argument. After a few minutes, because he was too tired to keep arguing, he grudgingly said, “Fine! Get everyone in the car and let’s go!”

Needless to say, it was a strained dinner and everyone was in a bad mood all the way up until bedtime.

===

The next morning, Wednesday, Hobart was still stewing about the night before. He left for work in a huff. Once there, he discovered someone had brought donuts to share. He loved these kind of donuts, but he and his wife had made an agreement to avoid sweets for the month as part of their effort to eat more healthily. Still, the donuts were tempting and she would never know. He took two and headed back to his office with donuts and coffee in hand.
 
===
 
On Thursday, as Hobart and his wife chatted after supper, she confessed that she had given in and had a slice of pie at lunch one day when she was out with a friend. She asked how he was doing avoiding sweets. Hobart lied and then smugly implied she was weak. His wife was stunned and hurt and left the room in tears. Hobart thought to himself, “Serves her right for making me go out on Tuesday night when I didn’t want to.”
 
===
 
Finally, it was Friday. As did most, Hobart looked forward to Friday so work could be set aside and the weekend enjoyed. The day was uneventful and even a little quiet. Around the middle of the afternoon as he was getting coffee, he noticed a couple of desks seemed to have been cleared off. He wasn’t sure who had been at those desks, but knew they had been in use the day before.

“That’s odd,” he thought as he went about his work, knocking out a few tasks and getting things organized for the next week.

About an hour before he would normally leave, he received a call from his supervisor who asked him to step into his office. When Hobart arrived, a person from HR was also waiting there. His heart sank and he didn’t hear much of what his supervisor said to him beyond, “I’m sorry, Hobart, but due to slow sales your position is being eliminated effective immediately…”

He and his wife spent the evening in a silent stupor, not sure what to do next.

===

On Saturday morning Hobart awoke angry. He had worked at that company for nearly 10 years and now he was really ticked off at how they were just tossing him aside. He regretted that he had not given his supervisor and the HR person a piece of his mind. All day he stormed around the house venting about losing his job and worrying about how they were going to pay their bills.

The mood of the house was generally dark as everyone got caught up in Hobart’s anger and worry.

When they were at the grocery store, the clerk gave Hobart too much change. He noticed but pocketed it telling himself he deserved it since he’d just lost his job.

===
 
The next morning, Sunday, everyone was still blue as they got ready for church. At the last minute Hobart took the bright envelope containing the newsletter from his briefcase and placed it in the inside pocket of his sport coat. He was thinking he’d show it to the pastor or someone.

The sermon was a continuation of the previous week’s theme on discerning and following God’s will. The thrust of the sermon was to point out simply that most of what people needed to know was in the Bible.

“In other words,” said the pastor as he summed up, “the better you know and do God’s Word, the easier it will be to know and do His will.”

A light bulb went off in Hobart’s head as he reached for the envelope. He pulled out the sheet of paper and read the verses that were listed below the heading “Weekly Will News, Specifically For Hobart.”

As he read each one, he thought back to each day’s events and gasped.   
  • Monday: Romans 12:3 - "For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you."
  • Tuesday: John 15:13 - "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."
  •  Wednesday: 1 Corinthians 10:13 - "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."
  •  Thursday: Ephesians 5:28 - "In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. "
  •  Friday: Jeremiah 29:11 - "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"
  •  Saturday: Psalm 37:8 - "Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil."
  •  Sunday: Psalm 46:10 - "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."
  •  Bonus verse: James 1:5 – “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

His eyes filled with tears as he finished reading.

“What’s that?” his wife asked quietly as they stood for the benediction.

He looked at her with a heart full of love and regret and whispered, “Something we need to talk about when we get home. Please forgive me for being such a jerk this week. I’m so sorry.”

“Of course I forgive you,” she said and squeezed his hand.

As they walked out of church, she held onto his arm as they leaned against each other. The kids sensed there had been a positive turn of events and followed silently.

That afternoon, Hobart shared with his family all that had happened through the week, and how the newsletter had provided a verse for each day. They were stunned.

They never discovered the source of the newsletter and Hobart never received another one.

But from that Sunday forward, Hobart read his Bible every day and then worked hard to apply what he’d read. Each person in the family did the same thing.

Life went on for the family. After several months Hobart found a new job and did okay. There were challenges from time to time – good days and bad days – but they got through them.

Hobart kept the one issue of “Weekly Will News” folded up in his wallet and pulled it out from time to time. Each time he read it, he shook his head in wonder as his heart filled with gratitude.

Hobart knew he was living within God’s will for his life and that’s all he needed.


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Do you struggle with discerning God's will? Do you read the Bible daily? Have you had an interesting experience as God revealed His will to you? Share in the comments!

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