Knowing God’s will was a huge topic of much prayer, debate and conversation among my peers when I was in college. It was a good thing. Any God-fearing person facing big transition feels the weight of the responsibility that we have to God and our fellow humans as we seek to live out lives that will count for eternity.
Sometimes though, the conversations would border on the ridiculous, giving way to silly “what ifs” and thinly veiled attempts to frame selfish ambition and personal preferences in religious jargon as if somehow that would fool God into accepting human will as His own. We’ve all seen it and most of us have done it. Sometimes it just makes our flesh seem a little more palatable and our own self-will a little more righteous (albeit self-righteous) to say, “God told me” rather than ” I think”. Some of us are really good at it and can even find a scripture to back up just about anything no matter what it is!
So lately I’ve revisited that question with just a few more years to color my perspective. Looking back over my thirty years of decidedly living for Christ I have come to a few conclusions, which I admit may change over the next thirty, but are fairly solid nonetheless. In all of these thirty years, I can think of only three occasions when God actually spoke to me about a decision I was to make. That got me thinking. What were the commonalities between these situations and were there any examples in scripture with common elements?
Here are my conclusions:
1. On each occasion the thing I was asked to do was not my idea at all and came as a shock.
2. The thing I was asked to do would change my life forever.
3. The thing I was asked to do was met with intense warfare, persecution and suffering.
4. The thing I was asked to do made no logical or circumstantial sense whatsover!
5. Two out of three of the times I tried to get out of it “just in case I hadn’t heard right” and I would have done the same thing the third time had I had more information about what was being asked of me.
6. Each time I second guessed myself and relied heavily on the ways God had communicated to me in the first place.
6. Each time I relunctantly submitted only to be humbled that he would offer the opportunity for me to share in some small way Christ’s suffering and awed by His glory revealed right before my eyes.
Some of the Biblical examples of God actually calling someone to do something specific are: Abraham and Sarah, Noah and the ark, several of the prophets, Mary regarding the birth of Jesus, Joeseph regarding marrying Mary, Peter’s call to preach to the Gentiles…You get thte idea and can probably think of others both in the Word and in your own life or in the lives of others. When God asks us to do something it is costly. Sometimes when He doesn’t speak it is His mercy knowing that we are not yet ready to pay the price.
So if He rarely asks us to do something specific, what is His will the rest of the time? Obviously, His Word gives us general direction. We know that if what we are about to do or say is in direct conflict with Scripture then it is not God’s will. For the most part though, God’s will is about walking out what is right in front of us with the people He has placed around us and it is about responding in a Godly way to whatever circumstances we encounter.
I know. That’s just not very exciting. There is an everdayness about our relationship with Christ that forces us to fully embrace the tenants of our faith. God’s will and our destinies are not sought in the distance but are the very circumstances we are required to walk through right now.