I knew what the will of God for the two of us was supposed to be. And this wasn’t just something I threw myself into at the drop of hat. No, I watched the signs and checked my gut instincts and knew this for years and years. I knew the will of God for us.
And if you were to look today, you would catch a glimpse of a beautiful wedding ring on her hand. That said, you can’t see my left hand right now but trust me when I tell you that there is no ring on my finger. Her ring didn’t come from me, even though I had bought one. It seems that all of those miraculous signs, that impeccable gut certainty, those divine instructions from the Almighty… well, they were wrong about the two of us. I thought I knew. I didn’t.
So did I miss my chance? Did I fall short of what God had planned for my life in his perfect and totally knowable will? Am I forever doomed for going off the tracks?
Throughout the history of humanity we have tried to divine the will of the gods. We sift through tea leaves. We trace the lines on our palms. We even feel for the knots on the top of our heads in hopes of discovering just what God has in store for us so that we don’t miss it and end up forever out of sync with God.
Biblically, we even see this play out. Gideon, not once but twice, laid out a fleece in order to receive a sign from God (forget the fact that he had been told all he needed know already). And it’s written that the priests and disciples cast lots to make choices sometimes.
But is this really the way to know the Will of God? Trusting in signs and feelings? We have a world full of non-Christians who look for the same signs and rely on the same feelings. Are these from Jesus telling them what to do?
Do we tell ourselves that we’ll ask the pretty girl out if she shows up for class today because that will be the sign? Do we think that our decision to move to New York City is the right one because we find an old Yankees cap in our closet? What if we are thinking of starting a small business and next Sunday we find a page full of ads for that particular business in the newspaper? Is that God telling us to go for it? Or is it God telling us that the market is already saturated and we shouldn’t start that business?
I guess we could just say that using them for the big decisions is ok. I mean, do we need to ask God which cereal to eat or what color sweater to buy? But how do we know what the big decisions will be in our lives? What if you decide to go to the mall to buy that sweater and your choice is to take the highway or the side streets? That’s a pretty small decision. Except that one way might lead you to the mall and the other way might lead you to a crippling accident. Big or small?
I’ve heard my whole life about God opening windows and shutting doors. So let’s say that in some particular instance a metaphorical door shuts on an opportunity for you. Is that God telling you that it isn’t in his will or is it God telling you to stand strong and persevere in the face of trials?
The will of God is hard to know, right? I guess we’re just outta luck.
Except we come to passages like 1 Thessalonians 5 which seems to tell us exactly what the will of God is for our lives.
“And we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the faint-hearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
As far as I can tell, the Will of God for you is… to act rightly. To act godly. It’s not a dot on a map of your life that you’re supposed to hit but a way of being where ever you find yourself.
1 Peter tells us that the will of God is for us to do right and to live as free people. It is God’s will that his people be devoted to him: holy, prayerful, thankful, joyful, filled with the Spirit, submissive to one another, and active in doing good. We are to lead lives worthy of the Lord.
One of my seminary profs, Dr. Paul Sands, likens it to a mother who sends her son to the store to buy milk. She flips him the keys, tells him to grab some milk and asks him to be careful on his way. She doesn’t explain how the key fits into the lock or how to work the gas and brake pedals. She doesn’t tell him which door to go in or the particular cashier to use. This is the same with the will of God and us. Here are the keys, act rightly and godly and be careful as you go in your life. Use the wisdom that God has and does give to you. James tells us that if we but ask, God will give us his wisdom, he will make our paths straight.
As followers of God, we do not have to be followers of signs or feelings. What we have to do is use the wisdom God gives us so that we may act with love, kindness, peace, long-suffering, thankfulness and prayer in each and every one of the situations in which we find ourselves.
That is the will of God for your life. Follow it.