Are you in God’s Perfect Will?

photo-courtesy-stuartpilbrow-@-Flickr

Ever heard that?  Or even, Are you in the absolute center of God’s will? Often the person asking such questions thinks she knows what God’s will is for you, what you should be doing with your life, and so on.

Recall Jesus words to Peter when he asked about John’s future.  Jesus told Peter, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!” (John 21:22)

There’s a lesson in those words.  Most of us, if not all, have enough trouble figuring out what Jesus wants us to do, let alone telling someone else what He wants that other person to do. Just figuring out what God’s will is for us is plenty challenging.

Let’s take this one step further: Is it really that necessary? Now before you let that statement bother you, let’s think about it a bit.

Is God capable of leading me?  Well, of course He is, you say.  But does His leading always depend on my being able to figure it out?  Or, does He often lead us even when we are unaware of it?  In my experience He does.

I was once in a young adult fellowship gathering and a young lady asked a question.  Someone at work had asked her if she was in God’s perfect will.  Did she really know God’s plan for her life?

Now, I admit that aggravated me a little.  Not that the young lady asked about it during the fellowship gathering, but that the other person was getting meddlesome, or perhaps trying to be manipulative, and this troubled the young lady.

I think I remember correctly that my answer was along these lines.  To me, that is a business or career question.  This whole worrisome thinking about what am I called to do, what career should I pursue, and, yes, am I in God’s perfect will—is really the product of our western thinking.

And how can we really know? Granted there seem to be people who are more confident than others are that they are doing God’s will, that they have found their “calling.”  But in my experience, it’s really not cut and dry, or at least it rarely is.

On the one hand, we know God’s will from His Word.  He wants us to become Christ-like, not to sin, to live caring lives of kindness and generosity toward others, including the poor. Jesus once said, “Therefore, you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)  He also told His disciples to abide in Him, a message for us too. (John 15:4)  Those two challenges are greater than any career.

But, on the other hand, narrowing things down to a specific career or which college I should attend or if I should date that gal (or guy) or not—can get a lot trickier.  Often in retrospect, I can see that God’s hand has been at work in my life. However, in the heat of the moment, when I have to decide between alternatives, it can be tough.

Listen: God’s plan for your life and mine is not dependent on us figuring it out and knowing it precisely and then making all the correct choices every step of the way.  God can and does lead us in spite of ourselves, our knowledge or wisdom.

If Jesus can change the entire course of Saul’s life on a Damacus road into becoming the dedicated, ardent apostle Paul most certainly was, into being a servant of the Christian church he once persecuted, He can lead you and me.

Dr. Charles Feinberg, past professor and Dean of Students at Talbot Theological Seminary once put it this way: “You either do God’s will or you do God’s will.”  In other words, God is bigger than you and me, bigger than all of us combined.  His will is an omnipotent force to reckon with.  As long as we are willing to obey, and especially if we trust Him to lead, He will.  We can count on Him.

John 7:17: “If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself.”  Jesus pointed out that the essential requirement for knowing that He, Jesus, spoke from God or not was being willing to do God’s will.   The challenge is being willing to obey, not having everything figured out.  To know is not based on cleverness or IQ, but on willingness.

Photo courtesy Dru Bloomfield – At Home in Scottsdale @Flickr

But I can almost hear you saying, “But how do I decide and get it right?” My advice is fairly simple:

  • Be willing to obey.  Tell God you are.
  • Pray and ask God to lead you.
  • Trust Him to lead you.
  • Fellowship with God daily, share your life with Him.
  • Then, when faced with a decision, make the best decision you can.  And always strive to do what’s right, what you know is right.

And remember: God is not overwhelmed by your decisions. If He wants you do to something, and you’re willing, He will see to it that you do.  Again, God can lead us in spite of ourselves. In fact He does that all the time.

And remember too: God’s will for your life is between God and you.

We walk by faith not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7).