Is knowing God's will reserved for only the mystic?
Watercolor on Yupo
Among Christians there is some skepticism that God's will for their lives is knowable and not shrouded in mystery. A sincere desire to know and understand God's will is undoubtedly at the heart of every believer.
When I understood the enormous price paid by Jesus to purchase my salvation, I knew that the little I could do in return would be woefully inadequate. But that didn't stop my desire to do something to express my gratitude. What better task to aspire to, than to determine and execute His will to the best of my ability! This is not to suggest that I am excellent at the task, but at least my intentions lean in that direction. I'm sure that yours do too, or you wouldn't bother to read this page.
I want the process of knowing God's will to be as plain as a map. In my impatience, I want the beginning and destination points to be clearly marked, as well as all the stops along the way. Perhaps you are even more prone to wanting to be a Know-It-All, when it concerns God's will for your life. Maybe you crave the "Google-Maps-version" of God's will - with all the details of satellite and street view en route to your destination!
Isn't it interesting that the subject of knowing God's will usually comes up when there is a grave decision before us? We come to a fork in the road and must know which bend to confidently embark on. In the absence of needing to make such an urgent choice, we live our lives unconcerned about discovering God's will. We blithely assume that the path we are on is the one meant for us.
For most Christians the process of discerning his will and the specifics of walking it out, are a matter of foggy confusion. As artists, we yearn for clarity and are restless when there is ambiguity.
God's will at any given moment is not ambiguous.
There is the expressed will of God for the big scheme of life, which is found in the Bible. To ensure that His over-arching will was made plain to humanity He went to inordinate lengths to protect it. Innumerable attempts were made to eradicate the Bible and it's life-transforming content. Yet His will prevailed. Against all odds, He draws people to Himself, redeems, restores and mends broken lives, causing generation after generation to know that He can be trusted to honor His word.
Besides the big picture, for the mundane activities of daily living, He gave us His Holy Spirit. With infinite patience He will speak to us quietly; to encourage us when we are down, to prompt us when we are tempted to stray, to warn us of danger…
Yielding to that gentle voice and promptly obeying will ensure that you stay right in the center of God's will.
Water media and Collage
The contents of His will are only veiled to those who are hostile to Him and His purposes. Those who approach God with the sincere desire to find Him will not be disappointed. He has given us His word on that.
"But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." Hb 11:6 KJV
Therefore, does it make sense that when I am eager to do His will, He would now hide it and not make it plain? Of course not!
Here are some conclusions that I came to about knowing God's will for my own life. Perhaps they'll prove helpful to you.
• God cares that I understand what His will for me is, far more than I do. What a relief!
"For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of [his] good pleasure." Ph 2:13 KJV
• He always initiates the process of revealing that will to me. I only have to learn to recognize it and co-operate.
• Any confusion regarding His will comes from only one of two sources – Satan, or my own conflicting will.
That probably sounds simplistic to you. Knowing God's will is being certain of both our present path and the correct bend in the road to tread boldly on.
I found confidence and peace when I broke down the process into the following steps.
• Confess and repent of all known and unknown sin. God reveals Himself only to those who acknowledge His holiness. Forgiveness is assured to those who accept the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.
• Pray in the Spirit and empty yourself of your own preferences. Have none. Be neutral about all your choices. Don't yearn fervently for one choice, while dreading another.
"And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what [is] the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to [the will of] God." Rom 8:27 KJV
• Let the Lord know that you trust Him and that you will obey his leading. Where He leads you is best for you.
"Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring [it] to pass." Pr 37:5 KJV
• Always back up your leading, or impression of the choice to make, with the Word of God. He is consistent and will never lead you contrary to His written word. If you do not have a specific Word that can anchor your soul, you are treading on dangerous ground. Feelings lie and form no basis for knowing God's will.
• Take the time to wait until the peace of God has flooded your soul with the certainty that the choice that you are about to make, the path that you are about to tread, or the deed that you are about to do, is the perfect will of God for you.
Then the wonder of the process begins. When you commit in prayer with the words of your mouth, your thoughts are brought into submission, and your works and actions are established. The Lord reveals His will. All that remains is for you to step into it and live it out.
"Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established." Pr 16:3 KJV
I don't want to leave you with the impression that God's will for me has always been easy to stomach. Often every fiber of my being would rebel against it. It has frequently been far easier to argue, sulk, or do anything, except what He wants me to do!
However, when I am certain about God's will on a matter and I do not obey it, (for various selfish reasons), a growing sense of disquiet stirs within me. The longer I disobey, the more uncomfortable I get. Quickly recognizing my rebellion for what it is and repenting helps me experience the grace, mercy and forgiveness of God - and of course relief!
The rewards of living out His will are not only exciting, but unimaginable at the time that we are making the conscious choice to obey!
This whole process of listening to the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit and obeying need not be time consuming or complex. The more you listen and obey, the clearer His voice becomes.
Can't you recognize every nuance, pitch and timber of the voice on the phone of a loved one, from the very first "hello"?
You too will come to instantly recognize the voice of the Lord, if you become used to yielding to Him.