“Not My Will…” 3. Discovering God's Will for My Life
Have you ever wished you could have lunch with Jesus? Suppose you got a phone call from heaven saying that the Lord Jesus Christ would like to meet you for lunch? What would you talk to Jesus about? I hope your first impulse would be to fall on your face at his feet and worship him. But suppose he said, “Rise, my child. Let’s share a meal together.” What would you say then? Most of us - “Lord Jesus, I love you and more than anything else, I want to please you. Lord. Am I doing what you want me to do? Is there anything else you want to me to do because if there is, if you want to change my direction, please let me know.”
All of us have moments when we want to hear God’s voice or receive some definite sign regarding a relationship, a business decision, a career choice, or a major expenditure. Our decisions really do matter. We make our decisions and our decisions turn around and make us. We face so many questions:
* Should I get married? If the answer is yes, should I marry Joe or Jake or Susan or Sally? * Should I go to university? If the answer is yes, should I go to Wits or Tukkies or UJ? * I’ve been offered a new job. It’s a good job. But I’ve got a good job. Should I take the new job? Or should I hold onto what I have? * We have 2 children. We’re thinking about having a third. Should we have another one? Or should we think about adopting? * Is God calling me to missions? How can I be sure? How do I know which one to choose?
It would be lot easier if you could simply open the door and be greeted by a chorus of angels chanting, “Wits! Wits! Wits!” Or a special delivery letter from heaven - “Dear Beth, marry John. Love, God.” That would make it easy. But it doesn’t often happen that way. Most of the time we research, study, narrow the options, talk it over with trusted friends, pray about it, wait on the Lord, and then in the end, we make our choice and hope for the best.
It’s God’s Problem, Not Ours
Central issue for most people regarding God’s will -we would like someone else to make the decision for us. If God would only tell us what he wanted in a given situation, we would do it. But most of the time we’re left with something less than 100% certainty.
I’m going to tell you right up front that I don’t believe there is any way for you to get 100% certainty before you sign on the dotted line. I think you can get 95% probability sometimes, but that’s about as good as most of us will ever do in the decisions of life.
Important principle I believe with all my heart - God wants you to know his will more than you want to know it, therefore he takes personal responsibility to see that you discover it. Knowing God’s will is ultimately God’s problem, not yours. Let that last thought sink into your mind for a moment. You’ve probably never heard it put that way before. Let me suggest what this really means: He can put you exactly where he wants you to be. He can arrange all the details years in advance. He can open doors that seem shut tight. He can remove any obstacle that stands in your way. He can take your choices and fit them into his plan so that you end up at the right place at just the right time. He can even take your mistakes and bring good out of them. He can take tragedy and use it for your good and his glory.
All he needs, the only thing he requires, is a willing heart. He just needs you to cooperate with him. This doesn’t mean that you won’t have to make decisions. But it does take the pressure off, because it means that you can trust God to use your decisions to accomplish his will in your life.
Four Verses to Think About …
Reading through Proverbs - struck with the strong emphasis on the sovereignty of God over our personal decisions. 4 verses that help us see how God works in, with, through, and sometimes in spite of our decisions to accomplish his will in us.
1. Proverbs 16: 9 “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” It doesn’t say that God “directs” his steps (although that is true), but rather that God determines his steps. Strong word that speaks of God’s control of every detail in the universe. “Man proposes, but God disposes.” You can make all your plans, in fact you can have your life mapped out step by step, but in the end, God determines every step you take.
2. Proverbs 16: 33 “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.” In the OT, the Jews often used this method to determine God’s will. It involved using different coloured balls or rocks, mixing them together, and then seeing which one fell out of the bag first. In that sense casting lots is like rolling dice. It appears to be a random act of chance. Forest Gump, ’Life is like a roll of the dice, but God is in charge of how the numbers come up.”
3. Proverbs 19: 21 “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” “You can make all the plans you like, but God gets the last word.” Most of our plans don’t stand - like the leaves that blow away in the autumn wind. But when God determines to do something, it’s going to happen. You can write it down and take it to the bank. You can make all the speeches you want and announce your long-range plans, your 10 year goals, and your personal objectives, but just remember this. When you are finished, God always gets the last word.
4. Proverbs 20: 24 “A man’s steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand his own way?” Something hidden in the Hebrew text - word translated “man’s” refers to a mighty warrior. Solomon means to say that even the steps of a mighty man are ordained by God. The word “anyone” comes from the word for mankind. The meaning is, “If God directs the steps of the mighty, how then can an ordinary man understand his own way?” The answer is, he can’t! We’re like a man stumbling around in the darkness, bumping into things, tripping over ourselves, trying to find our way forward. We can’t say for sure where we’ve come from, where we are right now, or where we’re going to be tomorrow. Only God can see the big picture of life.
The First Rule of the Spiritual Life: He’s God and we’re not!
Understand this and you’ll be OK, forget this and you will walk in continual confusion. When we forget that rule, we think that we’re in control of our own life and that everything depends on us. So we obsess, we hyperventilate, we try to control everything and everyone around us, we worry over all our decisions, and we spend hours fussing over the trivialities of life.
What a relief to realize that God is God and you’re not. Now you can rip that big “G” off your T-shirt. You don’t have to play God anymore and you don’t have to try to control everything around you. You can sleep well when you realise that God is God and you are not. Let me wrap up this message by sharing 4 simple principles that can help you as you seek to do God’s will.
Principle #1: Use all your intelligence to make wise decisions.
Sometimes people talk as if you shouldn’t use your brain at all but should wait for some mystical sign from God. I know the Bible says, “lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5), but that doesn’t mean to throw your brain away either. It simply means that after doing all your research on a given decision, submit it to God and ask for his help. If you need to make a major decision, don’t wait for the angels to knock on your door. Use your head, study the situation, gather the facts, talk to your friends, seek godly counsel, and then submit it all to the Lord.
Principle #2: Since you can’t know the future, you’ll rarely have 100% certainty about most decisions.
This is perhaps our greatest stumbling block because we want 100% certainty, but in a fallen world that’s hard to come by. Many people believe they must be 100% certain of God’s will before they make a decision. I can understand their thinking. After all, if you are facing a life-changing decision–a potential marriage, a move, a new career, which college to attend, whether or not to begin chemotherapy–you’d like to know in advance beyond any doubt that you are doing what God wants you to do. All too often that leaves us paralysed by an inability to make up our minds.
Did Noah know all about the flood? No, but he built the ark anyway. Did Abraham have a road map? No, but he left Ur of the Chaldees anyway. Did Moses understand what it meant to lead God’s people out of Egypt? No, but he said yes when the Lord called him. We could add many other examples! Was Daniel totally sure the lions would welcome him dropping in on them? Did Peter know he could walk on water? Did Paul know what would happen when he finally got to Rome? The answer is always no. The life of faith means living with uncertainty even in the midst of doing God’s will. That’s the whole point of Hebrews 11. Those great men and women didn’t know the future, but they trusted God anyway, sometimes in the face of great personal suffering. Because they kept on believing when circumstances turned against them, they received a great reward.
Too many people want what God has never promised–100% certainty before they will act. So they wait and wait and they dilly and they dally and they stop and they hesitate. They refuse to go forward because they are waiting for 100% certainty. That leads me to this important observation: It is rarely God’s will to give you 100% certainty before you make an important decision.
Principle #3: God wants guidable people who will trust him with the details of life.
Guidable people look to God and not to themselves. They understand that after they have done all they can, it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Like young Samuel, they say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” Like Isaiah they cry out, “Here am I, Lord, send me.” Like the Lord Jesus they pray, “Not my will but yours be done.”
Guidable people always receive guidance from God. Why? Because God always speaks loud enough for a willing ear to hear. Are you a guidable Christian? Or do you still feel like you have to be in the driver’s seat of life. If you are struggling with this, let me suggest these two simple prayers: i. “Lord, let your will be done even if it means that my will is not done.” ii. “Lord, right now I’m not sure I want to do your will. But I am willing to be made willing. Do whatever is necessary to change my heart. Amen.”
Principle #4: When the time comes, make the best decision you can and leave the results with God.
This follows from everything else I’ve shared in this message. When the time to decide comes, when you’ve thought about it, prayed about it, talked it over, sought godly counsel, researched your options, looked at the circumstances, searched the Scriptures, and waited on the Lord, when you’ve done everything you know how to do and the moment of truth comes, take a deep breath, close your eyes if you need to, and then just go ahead and make the best decision you can make.
When you’ve done that, there’s one other thing to do - leave the results with God. Remember he’s God and you’re not. His purposes will stand. I’ve already said that he wants you to know his will more than you want to know it. Knowing God’s will is his problem, not yours. If you truly want to do God’s will, you will do it.
If you are willing to be guided by God, you will discover that he will lead you step by step by step. In the end you will be what he wants you to be, you will go where he wants you to go, and you will do what he wants you to do. This is God’s promise to guidable Christians who are willing to do his will.
It is a great advance spiritually to come to the place where you can do what you believe God wants you to do without worrying about what other people think.
Sometimes we just need to take the next step and let God take care of everything else.
Life is a mysterious journey, full of unexpected twists and turns. The path ahead is a mystery to us all. No one can say for sure what is around the next bend. It may be a smooth road through a lovely valley or we may discover that the bridge is washed out and we have to find a way to cross a deep river. Often the road will seem to disappear or it may suddenly seem to go in three different directions and we won’t know which way to go. But there is One who knows the way because the past, present, and future are all the same to Him and the darkness is as the light of day. He knows the way we should go. He promised to direct your path and He will do it. You can count on it.