Understanding how we know and discern the will of God has been a serious and often confusing pursuit since becoming a Christian about twenty seven years ago.
I’ve studied the bible. I’ve read books. I’ve listened to sermons. Like many people, I just want to know God’s will so that I can do God’s will. There is a bit of self deception there, however, because there is a lot of God’s will that I know that I do not carry out. I’ll bet that is true for you as well.
I have learned a lot about God’s will over the years, but just recently I realized that I was making a terrible assumption about God’s will.
I was believing a lie.
Sometimes the lies that we believe are concealed. If we heard the lie stated plainly, we would never agree to it. Yet, our agreement is confirmed by what we do.
Let me explain.
I am working to develop this teaching and training ministry called Project M28. It’s all about discipleship. My heart beats to help people follow Jesus. But, it is slow going. Sometimes, the progress is painfully slow. At times, it feels like I am losing ground. Often, it seems like I am just waiting for something to happen.
And do you know what I do?
I begin to question God’s will.
Is this really what God wants me to do? Maybe I should do….that….or this….or even that over there.
Did I really hear from God or was that just me? Maybe I got it wrong.
Has God given up on me? Maybe God doesn’t even want to use me anymore.
All kinds of questions start rising up and begging for attention. Have you ever experienced that in your pursuit of God’s will?
Then I realized something really important.
Behind these questions was a terrible assumption…a horrible lie…an untruth.
I would never say this out loud. I would never agree to this statement. But, the way I respond when the going get’s rough tells a different story.
I believe that if you are doing God’s will it should be easy.
There…I said it. I don’t really believe it, but I live like I do.
Obstacles pile up…progress is hard to find…actual work is involved. Well…maybe I’m going down the wrong path. Maybe this is not God’s will.
Have you ever responded to difficulty like that?
“This must not be God’s will.”
Assumption….if we are doing God’s will, it will be easy. If we are doing God’s will, it will be quick. If we are doing God’s will, it will be pain free.
All of them.
Ask Abraham…ask Moses…ask David…ask Jeremiah…ask Jesus…ask Paul…ask any disciple. Was the path of God’s will paved with gold, lined with flowers and marked with neon signs that say “turn here”?
It’s not like that, but sometimes I live like I think it should be.
Just because a course of action is difficult, painful, slow and demanding of faith does not mean that it is not God’s will. Actually, the odds might be greater that you are heading in the right direction.
Things that matter always demand something that you didn’t expect to give.
Knowing God’s will is an adventure in seeking Him. That is the reason that there isn’t a sign at every turn. This is about seeking and following Jesus more than it is about accomplishing a particular task or arriving at a certain destination. God wants us to live in continual pursuit of him.
So…seek him…trust him…follow him and don’t let the challenges along the way cause you to doubt God’s leading.
I remember my orientation day at Dallas Seminary. We were embarking on a challenging four years of graduate level study and a prof exhorted us to not turn back when things looked bleak. He said “Don’t doubt in the dark, what God told you in the light.”
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