Learning More of God’s Plan by Cecil Rose for The Oxford Group
We are in great need of this discovery to-day.
We have tried our hand at the architecture of world-peace, and have failed. We are in the grip of economic forces which we can no longer control. The social structures we have built are crumbling. It is the hour of disillusion and helplessness and growing fear.
Behind all this lies the breakdown in countless individuals lives. There are growing numbers of men and women who cannot adjust themselves to the strains and demands of life to-day. They are the victims of anxiety. They fail to solve the problems of sex, marriage, and home life. They are oppressed by the sense of futility in a life for which they have seen no purpose. They cannot understand themselves and are ill-adjusted to their surroundings and their work. Their real trouble is that they have been trying to run their lives in their own way, by their own wisdom, and in their own strength.
To such a generation, and to such men and women, frightened by the growing demonstration of their impotence, the message that God has a plan–detailed, comprehensive, adequate for every situation and every individual–is like a great shout of hope! With this discovery God comes right back into our lives as an active God who has an intimate concern in the smallest detail of our program. It is He who is at work directing affairs; we are taking His orders.
But how can we actually receive this direction from God?
We must look for the answer to another of the great affirmations of our faith: God speaks. That is the tremendous fact around which both the Old and New Testaments are built–not that man can and may speak to God, but that God can and does speak to man.
Most of us, of course, believe that God speaks to us in a general way through Nature, through conscience, through reason, through circumstances, or through other people. But the Bible shows us a God who also speaks in a much more intimate, personal, and definite way to those who will listen and obey. The Old Testament is the story of men and women who believed that God told them what to do and what to say in national affairs and personal dealings. In the New Testament a full relationship to God is described by saying that ‘we receive the Holy Spirit’. If that phrase is vague to us, it was not vague to the writers of the New Testament. To those first Christians that gift clearly meant, not only the purifying and strengthening power of God within them, but his directing voice as well. He is the One who dictates their decisions in council. As their Master promised, they are given the words to say when called on to witness. Peter on the roof-top is told to go down and follow the messengers of Cornelius; Philip to ‘get up and go south along the road from Jerusalem to Gaza’; and Paul is directed not to enter Bithynia. Here is a picture of men and women moving obediently under the effective guidance of God