Although we may abuse God’s gift of free will, he eventually has his way by finding people who will do his will.
In the Book of Acts, the Sanhedrin had arrested the apostles and wanted to put them to death. A Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, cautioned the Sanhedrin not to carry out their intention. He said, “Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” (Acts 538-39)
If our actions are of human origin – motivated by ambition, pride, recognition, anger, resentment, revenge, sexual immorality, etc., they will eventually fail. If they are motivated by the desire to do God’s will they will endure.
History is replete with examples of the failure of individuals and nations whose actions were of human origin and failed. Next week we will remember the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Its creation was of human origin and not from God. Established in 1961, it lasted 28 years, but it was destined to fail, coming down on November 9, 1989.
St. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13:8 that “love never fails.” He goes on to say that three things always remain, “faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” The effects of a kind word or a merciful act last forever, radiating outward to others like the ripples from a pebble thrown in a pond.
A few years ago on the day I was scheduled for prostate cancer surgery, a snow storm almost prevented us from getting to the hospital but for the help of a neighbor and his 4 X 4 pickup truck. While I was in a pre-op unit, being readied for surgery, a nurse came in to say that my brother was outside and wanted to come in and pray with me. He was a brother in Christ, whose name was Dave, and he soon had everyone standing around my bed holding hands, including the two surgeons still in their hooded parkas, the nurses and my wife, as he boldly, but humbly, led a prayer for the doctors and the success of the surgery. What was remarkable about all of this was that my friend was himself suffering from renal cell carcinoma and a neuropathy in his feet which made it difficult for him to walk. To this day, I do not know how he was able to travel the 12 miles in that snowstorm to get to the hospital.
His act of love and the memory of that scene, however, will be seared in my memory for eternity.
In today’s culture the actions of human origin tend to dominate the headlines while the actions from God often go unnoticed. But this should not cause us consternation, for the actions from God endure while the actions of human origin fade.