Have you ever wondered what God’s will is? I know, I know – it’s a rhetorical question. All of us who are following Jesus have wondered that at some point. Of course, if you ask such a question, you might get the “preacher answer”: it is God’s will that you be sanctified (1 Thessalonians 4:3). Because THAT really helps. Very practical, right? What does it even mean? You really just wanted to know what to do. And so with a sigh you return to the frustrating task of determining the deep and mystical will of God for your life. Or perhaps you just give up.
The first – and perhaps only – real problem is that we see the will of God as “mystical.” We even say “the will of God” in reverent tones as if it is some hallowed, unknowable truth we must somehow ascend to or that we’ll only understand after we die and “go to be with Jesus.”
That’s just nonsense.
We so often want Him to tell us what we should do – what is the right thing, the right choice. It is important and good to pray, staying in continual contact with God, but it is also very important to recognize our own motives in asking for “confirmation.” Let’s be honest: we often ask for “confirmation” not because we truly want to know what is right but because we are afraid. We are so afraid of failing that we want security so that, if anything goes wrong along the way, we can blame God.
This safety-net mindset, however, denies the guiding presence of His Holy Spirit in your life, and it also embraces a view of God that is contrary to His nature. God isn’t going to trick you, and He isn’t going to let you choose something not good without warning. You, of course, are free to choose, but you will know if what you are doing is wrong because He is living and active within your spirit! It is not as though we will get to the end of life and stand before Jesus only to have Him say, “Oh, you know thirty years ago when you got that offer to take the job in Phoenix and you decided not to take it? Well, I really wanted you to take that job, and I just wanted to let you know that you have been outside My will since then” or “Wow, your life really could have been better if you had three kids instead of two; you were in my will but you really didn’t experience My best for you, sorry.” It sounds laughable to say it like that, but that is how we treat God’s will most times, so let’s just clarify some things here.
For starters, we should understand what we are talking about when we say “the will of God.” What exactly does that phrase mean? God’s will is, quite simply, all His thoughts and desires and plans for His creation, of which you are an integral part. Never deny your special place in His will!
And secondly, God’s will is not some fine line that we follow from point A to point B. We are not trains on the railroad tracks of His will that, if ever we should deviate, we suddenly find ourselves derailed and unable to recover. Life is an adventure, every day of which has been written in God’s book before the foundations of the earth were laid (Psalm 139:16) that we may walk in all the good things He has prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10). It is a skillfully-wrought story with a plotline that twists and turns, has its joys and its sorrows, but always remains in the control of God, the great Author and Finisher (Hebrews 12:2), who works all things together for the good of His people (Romans 8:28).
Does that sound too simple? Good. Because it is precisely that simple. It breaks my heart when I see people desperately trying to discern God’s will. God doesn’t want you to be confused, and He isn’t asking you to determine what His will is. He sent Jesus in order to reconcile all things unto Himself, drawing earth and heaven, sin-bound time and glorious eternity, into beautiful collision, just as He always intended it to be (Ephesians 1:10; Colossians 1:20). In doing this, He “made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself” (Ephesians 1:9). Do you understand what that is saying? It is saying that it is His pleasure to let you know what He desires; and not only is it His pleasure to do so, He has already done so! Then, to go beyond even that, when we choose to allow the Holy Spirit to renew our minds, we are transformed and made able to “prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2)!
Many hundreds of years before Jesus came to redeem us, David had the right idea:
“The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant” – Psalm 25:14
In the same Psalm, David speaks repeatedly of how the Lord corrects us and teaches us His ways. We are not left to wander aimlessly, nor are we in danger of “falling off the track” when we are seeking to please Him. Our Lord is mighty enough to correct you, and, as our Heavenly Father, He is also loving enough to guide you rightly. He has unveiled within you all the mysteries of His will and taken authority over any darkness and confusion that held you back from knowing it. Declare your trust in His goodness toward you today!