“I am certain,” the Apostle Paul once wrote, “that God, who began the good work within you, will continue that work until it is finally finished.” That God would finish what God started doesn’t appear to be breaking news. The real question for most of us is this: “What exactly is God trying to finish in my life?” Or put another way, “What is God’s will for my life?”
Speaking as one who was saturated in the dogmatic language and cliches of Christianity, I learned quite early to be cautious about that phrase, “the will of God.” It was a mantra with mystical implications, inferring that if I could discover, uncover, or recover this elusive, singular, “will of God,” then my life would have a divine purpose.
When, inevitably, “the will of God” remained ambiguous – which it always seemed to do – I was made to feel a failure. Why couldn’t I “get it?” Why couldn’t I unlock the secret doorway? Was my faith so defective, so inadequate, that God would punish me by refusing to reveal heaven’s plan for my life?
To remedy this problem, I would pray more. I would fast and fret. I would spend hours reading the Bible and make “deals” with God. At wits end, I would seek instruction from others whom I considered wise. Their instructions, to my chagrin, usually consisted of praying more, fasting, fretting, and reading the Bible (and yes, one suggested I make a “deal” with God as a means of showing my sincerity).
I felt as if I was going insane, and in some small way, I think I was, especially if the common definition is taken at face value: “To continue to do the same thing over and over but to expect a different outcome.” All my repeated striving only brought crazed frustration.
So, gather around children, hear my story, and allow me to save you some pain. There is no divinely disclosed, detailed, personal itinerary known as “the will of God.” Nor is there a foolproof, step-by-step, boilerplate formula for discovering “the will of God.” These simply do not exist.
Sure, the Scriptures speak of “the will of God.” It’s “the will of God” that we be thankful, holy, wise, and kind (among other virtuous instructions). But such admonishments are always offered in the general, not the specific. Exactly what God is up to with our lives is a mystery; and just as mysterious can be the process of finding our purpose, a meaningful path to follow.
Often, the best we can do is wait and listen; continue to cultivate the virtues that we absolutely know to be God’s will (all that thankful, holy, kind stuff); and go with the flow, so to speak, letting life and clarity unfold before us and within us. So, stop fretting about “missing” God’s plan. Your life will not become an out-and-out disaster because of one mis-managed decision. Life is bigger than that, and certainly God is too.
4 thoughts on “The Will of God”
Amen! So many anxious Christians out there. God directs those who are obeying the will he has already expressed in Scripture. Love others, make disciples, establish the kingdom. Let’s just start there and the guidance will come along the way.
Ronnie, you are right on with your message today! A wise friend and bible teacher once shared with me his condensed version of what God wants us to do: ‘Love God and be happy’. I have spent time pondering this and have come to the conclusion that I agree with him. Thanks for sharing these insightful thoughts with us.
Reblogged this on Pastor Michael Moore's Blog and commented:
A wonderful reflection from Ronnie!
1st/First of all, make no deals with God… For heaven sake WHAT? would any man/women have to bargain with, sacrifice with, do for him…? Just maybe his will was to die on the cross for your sins, yes I know you know that… Just maybe his will is for you to join him in heaven, to have eternal life, yes I know you know that… EVERYTHING IM READING in the dialogue of feeling sorry for one’s self, is answerd in the Bible is in the word… Do I get what your saying, YESSS, Do I understand where your at in your relationship with the LORD, YESSSSS…. One could say you are trying WAY to hard, One could say you’re listening and putting to much stock in what others are telling you… Your dialogue in it’s self is confusing, you have sincere concerns and questions and in the following sentence you seem to answer your own question, or sooth your own heart over your doubts.. The orator of the above is framing and misleading it’s reader’s, he knows that the opening statement by Paul COULD NOT BE ANY CLEARER and is as true then as it is now… Who is writing this , the one that knows the truth and has the answers ,OR the one that knows the truth and has the answers, I think it’s one in the same, THE PASTOR/MINISTER that’s trying to play good cop back cop at the CHRISTIAN’S expenses… I get it, and why he played us like he did, I was just a little disappointed he didn’t finish what he started… PATIENCE and Tolerance is in the Bible many times… Am I glad he wrote it YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS, just a little frustrating for the Christian to read… At first glance for a split second I thought this was a person that sincerely was grasping for answers, and I was there to help… Just pulling back the curtain and seeing the minister standing there.. I guess I should of paid more attention to the RONNIE MCBRAYER PART FIRST before I invested in the need of the person…