How do you discern God’s will? What job should I take? Who should I marry? What college should I attend? Should I have Cinnamon Toast Crunch or Frosted Flakes for breakfast? Should I have a cappuccino or a latte?
I can remember becoming obsessed with God’s will in this way. It came from a good place. I greatly desired to be in God’s will. I wanted my life to go down the pre-ordained path that God had designed for me. The problem was that I became more obsessed with God’s will for my life than I was with God. I greatly feared living outside of his will, and the consequences I might encounter, the difficulty I may have to endure, if I didn’t not seek and discern his will. At times it was paralyzing.
Today while delivering a message to my sixth graders I was reminded of a simple truth about God’s will for which I am so grateful. Contrary to how many of us may have somehow picked up some bad theology or faulty understanding of being spiritual, God’s will is not something that we have to search for, pray for, or wait for God to reveal to us. God has made his will known to us and made it plain.
Much in the same way that God instructed Joshua after Moses passing, his will is that we enter into the land of his presence (Joshua 1.2 “into the land that I am giving”), heaven and eventually the new heavens and new earth (Revelation 21.1-3); the place you find yourself is of no consqequence (Joshua 1.3 “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you”); to be strong and full of courage (Joshua 1.5-6); to obey (Joshua 1.7 “Being careful to do according to all the law”); and not be afraid because he is with us and will not leave us (Joshua 1.9-10).
One of the biggest decisions I ever had to make in my life was where to go to college. I can remember praying over it and wanting to be sure I picked the place that God wanted me to be. I had the option of Calvin College, Grand Valley State University, and Spring Arbor College. I choose GVSU, ended up at Washtenaw Community College, and graduated from Spring Arbor University. Having gone to three totally different and unique college and universities, one state, one community, on private Christian, I gleaned something very important about God’s will. God wasn’t all that concerned about where I went to college. However, God was greatly concerned about the kind of person I would be at whichever college I was at. It was never about me being in his will, it was about me doing his will wherever I be.
There may be some that will beg to differ, saying that God has a unique purpose and will for your life. That God has something very specific in store for you. I’d say to them that as much as I wanted to believe that I couldn’t support it with scripture. There are some individuals that God had something very specific for them, but those instances a very rare and all pointed to the preservation of his people, and often were in the direct lineage of Christ in whom God’s people are forever preserved. Personally I found it quite liberating to be freed from a life of trying to coerce God into giving me details. Cause if I’m honest it was that’s what it was. Me trying to coerce God, giving the appearance of him being in control. If I had specific details then I wouldn’t have to worry cause I was in control. I would have never seen it this way before but in my effort to trust God I wasn’t trusting him at all.
I find it much more freeing to simply get on with life exercsing the wisdom and discernment God gives to those who ask, to make good choices when the path seems foggy and grey (no clear cut bad options like what college to attend), and simply obey God’s law because his law is what he has revealed. All paths lead to the unobstructed full glorious presence of God, and his kingdom for those who trust and obey God.