Sunday, November 7, 2010

Seeking the Will of God

I was asked the other day how one goes about seeking God's will. This is an important question for any follower of Christ or those seeking God not knowing where He is or what He is doing. It is also a question I need to constantly keep in mind, because conforming my heart and will to God's is not an easy thing when our flesh is so weak.
Seeking God's will is an active movement in ourselves, such as the verb implies. But anyone can tell you that its not easy. Entire systems of belief have been formed on the premise that God's will doesn't affect the world, which I should note confuse me, because if God doesn't do anything in the universe, why is it important that He exists at all? Maybe to believe in a 'higher power'...but I would argue that a God that does not affect the universe is not a 'higher power' but rather an idea that gives people some illusion of purpose for the world. I use the word illusion because without the power to affect the world, there is no purpose. The reason I belabor this point is to attempt to make it clear right away that God's will does matter because God has the power to affect our lives and He will do so because God, having power over the universe, is interested in what He has power over. More specifically He is interested in us, as He wants us to love Him, despite our general ignorance of Him and His will.
So God's will exists, it is active, and has power over our world. Some people would not find that reason enough to care about God's will. But for the rest of us, I would like to provide some insight into approaching and understanding God's will.
1. God's will is incomprehensible. I know this kind of makes this whole thing seem sort of irrelevant, but I will clarify. God's will is like a massive tapestry woven with threads of timelines of events. We are not privy to this whole tapestry. And we only experience one thread of events in the present. So trying to make sense of the whole tapestry by looking at little threads or pick out a single thread is impossible. Therefore we do not need to worry about seeing God's will in this fashion.
2. Don't look for the future. I mentioned in point one that we only experience one thread of events in the present. This means that understanding God's will is not seeking a revelation of the future, but rather a guide for the present. Many people mistakenly attempt to discern God's will in the sense of the future. I say mistakenly for two major reasons: that Jesus specifically instructed us not to worry about tomorrow and a pursuit of the future is a lack of trust in God for the future AND that understanding God's will for the present is the most important thing He wants you to understand.
3. Trust God. If you can't trust God's plan for the future then you cannot follow Him in the present. And as stated above, His will in the present is the only one we should be trying to discern. Above all of that, trusting God IS His will for you all the time! The easiest way to trust God is to let go of what it is you are trying to control. And by let go I mean hold it out with an open hand so you can really let God have control over it and take it to do what He wants with it. Beyond that, trusting God is also knowing completely that He has a plan and its better than your plan.
4. Know God. In the beginning the word was with God and the word WAS God. Who God is has been revealed to us in Scripture! This is often called God's 'sovereign' or 'moral' will. If you don't know God, how can you know His will? You hear of all sorts of strange claims out there to people doing the will of God even though it directly defies Biblical principles. Defying Biblical principles is defying God. God has revealed to us His will for humanity as a whole in the Bible and it would be utter foolishness for us to claim that acting outside of that is a discernment of God's will! It is a contradiction that should be obvious. So then, in order to better know God, study His word and His will reveals itself to you.
5. Listen. Generally when people seek out God's will, we have all sorts of ideas about what WE want or about what we think God might have in store. We can learn so much by just taking the time to listen. The concept of listening is an odd one for most of us, however. What are we listening to? If you're like me, God does not grant you elaborate visions or verbally talk to you when you're alone. Listening then cannot be an act of seeking, but rather a discipline of silence. Instead of filling your head with ideas of the scripture you should be reading or ideas of where you think God might be taking your life, empty yourself of what seems right to you. For there is a way that seems right to a man, but that way leads to death. Paul says we are to die to ourselves, become crucified with Christ that it might be Him who lives in us, so it is no longer we who live, but Christ. So put away your preconceptions and become empty just so that He can fill you up with His spirit and will for you.
6. Observe your surroundings. Lots of times we as people will miss out on things going on right in front of us because we get so wrapped up in seeking God's will or trying to line reality up with what we want. God opens doors in front of us all the time! The above five points I just mentioned can get in the way of you perceiving God showing you His will in action or miss that He has given you a choice to make in accordance with His will (that means making a choice that is in line with God's character, refer to point 4). So pay attention to what God is doing around you so you don't miss out on it!
Some people might disagree with me that God's will allows for us to make choices, but if that is the case, then we cannot be held responsible for our actions...which causes a mess of problems for any Christian theology that claims we need Gods grace to be saved. But don't worry! Our choices neither surprise God or throw off His will or plan for us. We may make wrong decisions outside of God's desire (will) for us, but we are justified through our faith in Him and He is faithful to us! We can never escape His love and care! Making a wrong decision or stumbling is not what God desires, but His will for you does not change because of it. And its because of this simple truth that God's will for us ultimately comes down to us making choices with what He has given us in order to serve Him, not hopelessly tread on some fine line of events in an attempt to line our lives up with His plan. Serving and seeking and loving God IS His ultimate desire for you! Keeping the points above in mind when making decisions will help you make choices with the confidence that God is with you and that you are experiencing His will for you.

1 comment:

  1. Ah Just what I needed... It is amazing that we just spoke on these matters...and the VERY next day...God was at work, implementing these very aspects of my faith into my life. Thank you for being my strong brother in Christ... <3