We’re in the home stretch of our five-part series on God’s will. If you haven’t checked out the first three I suggest doing so before diving into part 4. Also, we highly recommend Kevin DeYoung’s little book “Just Do Something” of which a lot of today’s material was pulled from.
“Walter Houston, described by family members as a devoted Christian, died Monday after waiting 70 years for God to give him clear direction about what to do with his life. ‘He hung around the house and prayed a lot, but just never got that confirmation,’ his wife Ruby said. ‘Sometimes he thought he heard God’s voice, but then he wouldn’t be sure, and he’d start the process all over again.’”
“Houston, she says, never really figured out what his life was about, but felt content to pray continuously about what he might do for the Lord. Whenever he was about to take action, he would pull back ‘because he didn’t want to disappoint God or go against him in any way,’ Ruby says. ‘He was very sensitive to always remain in God’s will. That was primary to him.’”
“Friends say they liked Walter though he seemed not to capitalize on his talents. ‘Walter had a number of skills he never got around to using,’ says longtime friend Timothy Burns. ‘He worked very well with wood and had a storyteller side to him, too. I always told him, ‘Take a risk. Try something new if you’re not happy,’ but he was too afraid of letting the Lord down.’”
“To his credit, they say, Houston, who worked mostly as a handyman, was able to pay off the mortgage on the couple’s modest home.”
Fortunately this story is a farce but the reality is that many of us live our lives just like Walter Houston. We are handicapped in trying to find and stay along the thin line of God’s will. In fact, we would just assume use one of those old school magic eight balls – you know the shake it and turn it over kind – to find God’s will rather than the means which He has given us.
So far we’ve looked at what God’s will is (His sovereign will and will of decree) along with what God’ s will is not. Now we look at how to practically understand and live according to God’s will. First we have to understand that God has not created us as mechanical unthinking beings. Rather, He has created us with the capacity to think and to reason. Therefore, in making decisions we are to use wisdom. There are three prominent ways we can do this.
2 Timothy 3 tells us that Scripture is useful for making us wise unto salvation. At the same time the Bible is immensely practical. In the same chapter the apostle Paul says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16 NIV).
As we study and meditate on God’s Word it transforms our heart so that we can know the will of God (cf. Romans 12:2). We gain wisdom from Scripture so that we have a rubric by which to measure and help us make decisions. It might not be that the answer to our decision is written in black or white in the pages of Scripture (i.e. This job or that job) but God imparts His wisdom to us through His Word so that we can make wise choices.
Just open the book of Proverbs and you’ll see that it is full of exhortations like this, “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.” God has strategically placed people in your life – parents, pastors, and friends – in order to provide counsel in making decisions. Therefore, look to godly people who have been there and done that and seek wisdom from them.
At Mercy Hill one of the ways we plan on implementing this idea is to encourage our people to get involved in small groups. Maybe the problem is that you have disconnected yourself from deep meaningful relationships. A small group Bible study or something similar is a great way to allow others to speak truth into your life and to help you understand what God’s will may be for your life as it pertains to one particular decision over another.
I saved the best for last. Pray is essential in understanding the will of God because it causes you’re heart to inline itself with the heart of God. Often time prayer becomes cliché in our seeking of God’s will. We say about future decisions, “Yeah I know I need to pray about that but…” But what? Pray is an irreplacable core component in the process of seeking God’s will. We need to pray that God would help us by means of His Spirit to be wise and to make obedient decisions. Maybe the problem is simply that you haven’t asked God (cf. James 4).
The more you immerse yourself in God’s Word, in godly counsel, and fervent prayer – the more ready you will be to make decisions about whatever comes at you. So you will not have to shy away from making a decision or fear it – but you will know that God has equipped you and will lead you in making those decisions.