Your Way Or God's Way
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways,
and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8,9).
In this day of fast food, cell phones, computers, instant messenger, and having things "our way",
we are used to immediate gratification.
We want what we want, when we want it, and how we want it - and nothing else matters.
Many are familiar with the song "I Did It My Way," written by Paul Anka and sung by Frank Sinatra
in the late 1960's.
"And now, the end is near;
And so I face the final curtain.
My friend, I'll say it clear,
I'll state my case, of which I'm certain.
I've lived a life that's full.
I've traveled each and ev'ry highway;
And more, much more than this,
I did it my way.
Regrets, I've had a few;
But then again, too few to mention.
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption.
I planned each charted course;
Each careful step along the byway,
But more, much more than this,
I did it my way.
Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew.
But through it all, when there was doubt,
I ate it up and spit it out.
I faced it all and I stood tall;
And did it my way. ...
For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught.
To say the things he truly feels;
And not the words of one who kneels.
The record shows I took the blows -
And did it my way.
I did it my way!"
"I Did It My Way" is a great song, whose lyrics were beautifully sung by Frank Sinatra.
As Christians, we must contrast that song with the life of Jesus.
When you read Matthew's account of Jesus' baptism which marks the beginning of his ministry.
we see that Jesus rejected the option of doing it "my way."
He chose to live life God's way.
The song that Frank Sinatra made famous has become such a classic that it often used at funerals.
This would tell us that many have no clue as to what God wants of us.
By using this song they are saying that the song expresses a accurate description of their lives.
The personal philosophy on which this song is based is the exact opposite to the Christian
who is truly following Jesus.
This is not what we should want to epitomize our lives.
We should want be be known as Christians doing things God's way.
Many people are searching about the meaning of things.
And I do believe that most people really want to live a meaningful life.
But sad to say, many just plod along in a life that is empty and dissatisfied.
Perhaps, this is the reason that many people turn to suicide.
A college student left the following note:
" To anyone in the world who cares: who am I?
Why am I living?
Life has become stupid and purposeless.
Nothing makes sense any more.
The questions I had when I came to college are still unanswered, and now I am convinced
that there are no answers.
There can only be pain and guilt and despair in this world.
My fear of death and the unknown is far less terrifying than the prospect of the unbearable
frustration, futility, and hopelessness of a continued existence."
This student expresses the feelings of many.
Many would ask why isn't the question of meaning and purpose in life automatically resolved
when we received Christ as our Saviour?
Some might think that it is just the non-believer who struggles with the meaning of life questions,
but there are many professing Christians who are also unsure.
They wander along in life, going their own way and never finding any satisfying answer.
They seem headed toward an unhappy ending.
As someone noted, " If you go against the grain of the universe, you will get splinters!"
God is ready to give a happy, satisfying life, but unfortunately many people have rejected
His salvation, and would prefer to do things their way..
Many people act as though that they know more about life than God.
Maybe they are like the young man who was sure that he knew more than his father.
This was his attitude when he started college.
But when he graduated, and began to make his own way in the world, he was surprised to see
how much his father had learned in four years.
Many of us as Christians are like that young man.
After some years in the school of hard knocks, we look back at situations in our lives,
and learn how right and wise our heavenly Father was all along.
When we try to manage our lives by ourselves, we find ourselves with perplexing problems
for which we have no solutions
We face many problems that we did not foresee.
We must be remember the promise of God in Isaiah 45: 2:
" I will go before you and make the rough places smooth; I will shatter the doors of bronze,
and cut through their iron bars."
We need to heed the advice of a very wise teacher:
" Don't give God instructions; just report for duty."
For many the question might be, " Why it is life so unfair?"
Others may struggle with another question: " Why, Lord?"
To these people God seems to be unfair.
For them there are too many unexpected roadblocks and detours.
There are too many hurts and too many unexplained reversals.
Some, who are faced with such difficulties, might ask not only, " Why, Lord?" But also, " Why me?"
Life doesn't seem to make sense to those with such questions.
Some may actually say to themselves, " I deserve something better!"
To such people, God may seem angry and vindictive.
An incident from the popular Peanuts cartoon series makes this point.
Lucy is speaking to her little brother, Linus.
Lucy asks: " What's the matter with you?"
Linus answers: " I have a sliver in my finger."
Lucy responds: " Aha! That means you're being punished for something.
What have you done wrong lately?"
Linus answers: " I haven't done anything wrong!"
Lucy says, " You have a sliver, haven't you? That's a misfortune isn't it?
You are being punished with misfortune because you've been bad!"
Many people are like Lucy.
They picture God as always angry and ready to give revenge.
To them every uncomfortable experience in life is brought about by God, who is punishing them
for some past mistake.
In the Sound of Music, there is a scene where Captain Trapp and Maria have just discovered
their love for each other.
As they look into each other's eyes, enchanted by the moonlight, and the romance,
she sings a love song to express her amazement at what is happening to her.
The song is lovely and romantic, but the theology is very poor.
For Maria is trying to account for this newfound happiness, when she sings,
" Somewhere in my wicked miserable past there must have been a moment of truth
Somewhere in my youth or childhood I must have done something good."
This may be beautiful, romantic, and even poetic, but it isn't Biblical.
Paul states that God blesses us " not only on the basis of deeds which we have done
but according to His mercy." (Titus 3: 5)
Both Lucy and Maria, as well as many Christians who have a similar mind-set, are attributing
human characteristics to God.
God has created us to walk in perfect harmony with Him, and to enjoy His fellowship
and His blessings.
True meaning in life can be discovered only as we go God's way.
In fact, as we draw nearer to God, the questions that once bothered us, such as,
" Why?" Or " Why me?" become less important.
Instead, our trust in God grows and our confidence in Him is constantly being reinforced.
Questions are replaced with exclamation marks!
J. I. Packer writes: " Those who know God have great contentment."
And he adds: " There is no peace like the peace of those whose minds are possessed
with full assurance that they have known God, and God has known them.
And that this relationship guarantees God's favor to them in life, through death, and on forever."
It is no wonder that so many people grasp at straws trying to find meaning and contentment.
They have missed the whole point of life.
" What are we made for?"
We are made to know God.
"What should be our purpose in life?"
Our purpose should be to know God.
Jesus taught this with unmistakable clarity:
" This is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ
whom Thou hast sent." (John 17:3)
The initial experience of knowing Christ brings salvation.
The Apostle Paul speaks of his desire to continue to know Him, and to know Him more and more
as a primary goal in life for him as a believer:
That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings,
being conformed to His death." (Philippians 3: 10)
To know God in this way will cost something.
Since God has called us to a life of fellowship with His Son (1 Corinthians 1: 9), we can be sure
that He will bring us into such an experience.
This purposeful working of God in our lives is gentle, and persuasive.
It is a loving Father working to keep His children close to Himself.
And, if we love Him in return, we will then be happy to surrender ourselves to His loving care.
We will trust Him even when it hurts, and even when we have no immediate answer to explain
what we are experiencing.
We have problems with this process when we resist God and determine to go our own way.
For many this resistance becomes a contest of wills.
Will it be my way or God's way; my will or His?
Which way we go becomes a matter of choice.
If we choose to do it our own way, then we must be prepared for the discontent and frustration,
and the unanswered questions, and a the life without meaning.
On the other hand, if we choose to surrender the reins of our life to God, we'll discover
real meaning in life, along with the contentment that comes with that discovery.
We will receive it only after we have surrendered our wills to God at all costs.
So, will it be your way or His?
Will it be your will or His?
God has a perfect plan for us.
It is a plan that brings great glory to Him.
It is also a plan that brings meaning and contentment to our lives.
If we choose to follow this way of surrender, it will be because we have come to trust His great love
to give Him our best,
I began this sermon with Paul Anka's great classic, " I Did It My Way" and I want to close it
with" I Did It God's Way" with different lyrics by Sam Menahem but with the same tune:
"And now the end I fear,
I have to face the big transition.
The future's so unclear,
I am afraid, there's no remission.
I've lived a life that's full,
I've helped some folks along the highway
And more, much more than this,
I did it God's way.
Regrets, I've had a few,
I'm not afraid, right now to mention.
I did what I had to do,
Maybe I fudged some tax exemptions.
I planned my charted course,
And then God laughed aloud at my way
And so, I changed my plans,
And did it God's way.
Yes there were times, I'm sure God knew,
I was way off, not a good Jew,
But through it all, when I had doubt,
I turned to God to figure out,
Prayed to the Lord and listened well,
And did it God's way!
I've loved, I've laughed, I cried,
I've been fed up; felt I was losing,
And now, as I look up,
I find the cosmic joke amusing
To think, I felt all that,
And may I say, in such a shy way
It wasn't me at all
I did it God's way.
For what is man, what has he got
If not God's love, then he has naught,
To be kind and speak the truth,
Try not to hurt or be uncouth,
The record shows, I learned from my blows,
And did it
. God's way!"
Sermon adapted from many sources by Dr. Harold L. White