One of the toughest challenges in the Christian life is surely trying to determine the will of God in our daily lives, in order that we would endeavor to accomplish it to bring Him glory. I have come to the conclusion that as with many other spiritual issues this side of heaven, it all boils down to faith, trusting God for that which I am unable to do in and by my own resources. In speaking on our heavenly future dwelling, the Apostle reminds us that while we are in this earthly vessel we are limited, but we do not lose heart as we learn to trust God for the unknown:
“6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Cor 5.)
In wrestling with this important issue again recently, I came across a most helpful booklet by author Joel James, who writes from a refreshingly different Biblical perspective, entitled: Biblical Decision-Making, wherein he answers a strange question: “Is it God`s will to find God`s will?!” Allow me to share some of his very practical conclusions to assist us in the daunting task of discovering and doing the will of God in our lives. James firstly highlights the two common approaches to seeking the will of the Lord, namely the Pragmatic and the Mystical. The former of course has some value in that we need to be sensible and practical in this regard as opposed to the fallacy that the Lord will reveal His purposes with flashing lights and voices from above! He goes on to warn of the dangers in some of the even `spiritually` perceived ways of discovering what we ought to do, as in literally dipping into the Scriptures to find a text that would guide us in our endeavor. There is equal danger in seeking for signs or interpreting circumstances in order to build a case for confirming God`s will for our lives. We are reminded in the Word of God that there is a difference between the Revealed and the Unrevealed will of God. His revealed will is clearly laid out in, for example His plan of Salvation wherein Christ “gave Himself for our sins so that he might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.” Gal 1:4. It is however the unrevealed will of God that we struggle with as Christians is it not, and the crucial question that James raises is simply this:
“Is it really our business to know the unrevealed will of God?!” Getting back to our key text then, if all were made plain to us, there would be no need for faith as we would be walking by sight.
The apostle James puts this into clear perspective for us:
“13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4)
The author leaves us with Five Proverbial Principles that I have found equally helpful in our quest to find the will of our Father:
- Pray for Wisdom
- Gather information
- Ask, does the Bible speak directly to my decision?
- Ask, does the bible speak indirectly to my decision?
- All other things being equal… do what you want!
Some wise guy once told me that if I wanted to know what God wants to do in my life on Tuesday, then I should wait until Wednesday!
Let me close with a personal testimony of how the Lord has lead us by sharing again for the sake of those who have not heard, that as a family we recently have had to make a major decision, one that impacts on quite a number of people – the issue of returning to South Africa. We were plagued by many questions in trying to come to a decision: It`s only been 3 years… what about all the precious friends that we`ve made in Switzerland… what of the countless obstacles facing us back in our home country…?! We were grateful that even as we sought to cover all the bases of this decision diligently, the Lord assured us from His Word that in fact He was answering our plea for direction as we sought His will and He opened the door for us to return to continue to serve Him back in the country that we love:
“3 Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord, trust in him, and he will act.” (Psalm 37)
Join us this coming Sunday as we conclude our series on the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 7: 24-29 as we consider together, the Wise and Foolish builders.
Yours in His Service,