"He who forms the mountains,
creates the wind,
and reveals his thoughts to man,
he who turns dawn to darkness,
and treads the high place of the earth –
the LORD God, Almighty is his name."
Amos 4:13 NIV
We hear a lot about God’s will and most of us spend a good bit of time trying to decipher what his will is. We are often confused. Are we hearing God’s voice or our own voice? Then add to that mix the voice of Satan and we really are bewildered!
When I really get serious about knowing God’s will, the garden is the place I need to go. Sometimes I can’t hear the voice of God because everything that surrounds me is so distracting that I can’t even hear myself think. When I finally go to the garden, if I don’t try to talk God to death, I might actually be able to listen for his voice and try to discern his voice from Satan’s voice. If the words I am hearing are convicting I know those words are from the Holy Spirit. But if the words I hear are words of condemnation, then I know they are from Satan. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” Romans 8:1 NIV If the words stir fear within my heart they are from Satan, but if the words I hear are bathed in love they are from God. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear,” 1 John 4:18a NIV
Even though I know in my head that God speaks words of love and truth, many times my heart is not ready to receive those words. I often choose to ignore his words of conviction and many times I second guess his words that command me to go and do. As I walk in the garden today I am seeking to know his will but I am also tempted to argue with God because I fear he is asking me to move out of my comfort zone.
Because of my guarded approach to the voice of God and the prompting of his Holy Spirit, I am totally missing the beauty of the garden. Peace seems to be as elusive as the butterfly that flutters over the lantana. I am totally preoccupied with getting my thoughts delivered to the Almighty. I want God to listen to me and see a few things from my perspective. I want him to be keenly aware that I have limitations. I want him to know that I lack certain abilities, and that I am a woman who is often driven by fear. I guess God has forgotten that I don’t take risks. The truth is I already have an agenda that is full of my own desires and dreams. I am walking down the path that I have mapped out for success and I don’t have much time to dilly-dally around with God’s experimental programs. I remind God that I know myself pretty well and I’m sure I have my own best interest at heart and the best interest of my family is always at the top of my list. God needs to understand that my will and my plans for my life have little room for flexibility or change. After all, my plans are not so bad. I am simply in pursuit of happiness.
But then the Holy Spirit stirs within my spirit and I begin to soften. My response is less hostile but still controlling. “God, if per chance I should decide to take note of your suggestions for my life I will need a plan. From where I stand, having this plan in writing would be great. I will need facts and an organized plan of action, complete with charts and graphs that indicate projected success results. I need dates. I also want a guarantee that I will be happy with the end results. Lord, I really don’t think this is too unreasonable. I am simply being responsible. God, you gave me a brain and I am trying my best to use it!”
Now that I have said my piece, I guess I owe it to God, at the very least, to listen to what he has to say on the matter. I’m sure after listening to me he will see my point of view and is most likely going to agree with me. After all, God loves me and I love him. Then God speaks, “Paula, take off your shoes, you are on holy ground.” Instantly, my constant chattering comes to an immediate halt. As I look around the garden, I observe that there is not a burning bush anywhere in sight. Again I hear the authoritative voice of God and his message is simple. “Paula, it is not your job to try to figure out my will, it is however your job to pay attention and trust me! It is my job to reveal my will to you. I AM the one who gets to choose when, where and how I will reveal my plan for your life to you. I will unfold the details to you little by little, day by day.” In a matter of seconds my know-it-all attitude begins to melt as I find myself standing before my Creator. I am without a doubt on holy ground. I am sure that it is God speaking to me. In a holy moment my one sided prayer goes from a “me talking prayer” to a “me listening prayer”. God seems to silently suggest that I take out a notebook because it might be a good idea for me to take a few notes. God also lovingly reminded me that just like Jonah, if I opt to disobey and step away from his will for my life there will be natural negative consequences and I will also be robbing myself of his blessings.
I ask God, “How can I recognize your revelation?” God answers. “Ask me to direct your life and I will. Trust me that I know what is best for you even if it involves a bump in the road or pain. Allow me to take away your old desires and replace them with my new desires. I want your will to become the same as my will. I will put opportunity and people in your path if you trust me. I will encourage you to end relationships and activities that do not fit in with my plan for you. I promise you I will do my part IF you will do your part. Your part is to seek me, spend time with me, trust me with every detail of your life, and NEVER forget that I am good. Even when it seems I am not good you must believe that I am. I will never leave you or forsake you. I will guide you every step of the way!”
My mind tells me that I most definitely want the will of God in my life and that I don’t want to be anywhere that God does not want me to be. At this moment, I’m pretty sure that hanging out in a place where God does not want me to be is not a safe place. But like Jonah, my emotions begin to tell me that trusting God’s plan for my future may not be what I consider to be in my best interest. Satan now shoves his big foot into the door of my heart and begins to suggest fearful worst case scenarios! Of course, all lies! However, the truth is, when we belong to Jesus Christ the major winds of change in our life are God blown. We can choose to walk directly into the wind in an attempt to change direction and escape the will of God or we can move ahead with our back to the wind. When we choose to be blown forward by the breath of God and lead by his Spirit we will experience a life of blessing. If we walk directly into the wind we will be blown and tossed about like a wave on the sea. There will be no firm foundation and we will trip and fall as we struggle to keep our balance.
I find that my emotions have always been tied to my specific plans. In the past when those plans failed I was devastated. I did not understand that failure can be a very important part of God’s plan for my life. Looking back, if some of those plans had been carried out according to my will those plans would have placed me in the middle of disastrous situations. God has always known the path my life would take from beginning to end and many times his “no” has been his hand of protection. Still, God has allowed me to make my own mistakes while all along he knew that he had a better plan for my life that was grounded in blessing. My failure to listen to the voice of God resulted in God delaying or withholding a blessing that he had set aside and reserved just for me. Sure, because of God’s loving heart, he blessed me in other ways, but what about the blessings I may have missed? How many blessings have I forfeited?
Even along the path of blessing, not all things are pleasing. It is a common misconception that if we belong to God and follow his plans for our life we will sail through life with a smile on our face and problem free. The truth is that being a Christian does not entitle us to a perfect life. There are no guarantees for a wonderful stress free marriage, model children, perfect health, or a big bank account. It would serve us well to remember that God is not a wishing well or a good luck charm! However, God is our strength, our comfort, our provider, our peace, and our hope for eternity. Our prosperity does not depend on what happens to us in this world. When we belong to Jesus our prosperity is firmly planted in heaven.
When God asks us to step outside the walls of “our plan” and follow his will we can be sure that he is already on site waiting for us. We discover and learn the will of God for our life as he reveals it to us one event at a time. I really have come to believe that God is in all that concerns me. He places me where he wants me to be, he causes the lives of other people to intersect with mine, sometimes he removes people and things from my life, he leads me to my place within the body of Christ, he orchestrates for my provision, he blesses me, and he always allows things to enter my life that will give me an occasion to trust and rely on him rather than myself. God has taken the knee bending trials of my life and twisted them around for my sanctification and his glory. All that Satan has meant for my harm, God has uniquely used to create something beautiful out of the sinful ashes of chaos. My brokenness has always been God’s perfect tool for changing my character, teaching me his mind, and redeeming and restoring my life.
When God wants to reveal his plan for our life he speaks to us in amazing ways. The Word of God is a vital tool that God uses to teach us who he is and how he thinks. We learn how to trust God by discovering his character and his attributes as we read his Word. Other times we hear the voice of God through godly teachers, preachers, mentors, writers, and musicians. Godly friends also encourage us and confirm what we know to be true. God speaks to us through our world. Creation sings of his love and care, and his provision and faithfulness. Believers also hear the voice of God through the promptings and conviction of the Holy Spirit. The Word tells us that the Holy Spirit speaks to us and tells us only what the Father tells him. “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” John 16:12-13 NIV
It is Satan who sows seeds of doubt, fear, inadequacy, and selfishness. It is the lies of Satan that attempts to pull Believers away from the will of God. Nothing pleases Satan more than to cripple the mind of a believer and by doing so he is able to make them ineffective for the cause of Jesus Christ! But Jesus can always get us back on track!
As God reveals his will to you through circumstances rejoice, give thanks and praise to him. Move forward in confidence knowing that God is going ahead of you clearing the path you take, opening doors and placing you in a position that will bring glory to him. God will always wait for just the right moment in time to reveal the next step of his perfect plan for your life. “For I know the plans I have for you, … plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
If your path is currently unsure, dark, and lonely you can still give thanks. Not for what has happened to you but because Jesus has promised to walk with you in this place of loneliness. He has not abandoned you! His holy presence does not depend upon your emotional state being perfectly intact. Jesus has promised that he will sit with you as long as it takes for you to be able to move beyond the darkness. I have never heard a single Believer say they regretted walking with Jesus and submitting to his glorious will for their life. Even the Apostle Paul said that for him to die was gain! When we find ourselves in the middle of an undesirable situation we must still choose to believe that God has a plan. When we submit to that plan we will be blessed and God will be glorified.
We should not strain to know the will of God. We should simply be obedient to our “spiritual” desires and instincts. We should also look to God’s Word and believe his words to be true. Simple mustard seed faith is all it takes. We must set aside our logic, and our emotions. God merely asks us to move ahead each day, one event at a time, in simple obedience. We must train ourselves to keep our eyes open for God’s smallest of opportunities. When God tugs on our heartstrings we must respond in trust and obedience. God will reveal his plan for our lives when and how he sees fit. We need not fear the One who loves us and is always good! We only need to trust in his amazing goodness. Adversity, pain, suffering, and brokenness in life are necessary because these things create need in our life. Problems are gifts that allow us to trust God with our needs. Trusting God is our golden opportunity to see his glory unleashed!
- Have you ever struggled to know the will of God?
- Are you relieved to know that discovering the will of God is not your job?
- Do you see the necessity to intentionally tune in to God so that he can reveal to you his will for your life?
- Do you see that God’s perfect plan for your life is an ongoing process to be revealed to you event by event?
- How do you feel about God being the One who gets to choose when, where, and how he will reveal his plan to you?
- Do you find comfort in knowing that your job is to pay attention, listen for his voice, trust him and obey his promptings?
Let me be the first one to confess that when it is time for me to trust and obey I am not always smiling. Usually, I am anxious and afraid. Forgive me for not trusting you. Forgive me when I doubt your goodness. You are the one who knows my life from beginning to end. On the other hand, I remain totally in the dark regarding my future. Father, I want others to trust me, so why should it be so hard for me to realize that you too want to be trusted? Heavenly Father, perhaps the solution is simple; I need more of you and less of me. The better I know you and your reputation, the more I will continue to fall deeper in love with you. Then because of my great love for you it will be easier for me to totally trust you. Father, create within me a hunger to make this simple truth come alive within me. Lord, not my plans for my life but your plan for my life is what I desire to be divinely accomplished.
It is in your name I pray. Amen.