As professionals living in an age where everything is instant – from instant coffee, to instant mail – we often rely on systems and templates to make every area of our lives a bit less complicated.
Similarly, knowing the will of God can sometimes feel like maneuvering a very complicated rail-yard, and many of us struggle to pinpoint exactly what God requires us to do, and which decisions to make.
This article offers biblical insights into knowing the will of God, drawing from the lives and lessons of some of the most noteworthy biblical characters.
“I just want to do God’s will!”
A few months ago I came across an old story about a man trapped on the top of his house during a flood.
As the water rose swiftly – the man sitting on his roof, fearful of being swept away by the flood waters, cried out, “God please deliver me!”
A few moments later, a farmer friend arrived with his boat and turned to the man in distress: “Hey, friend, do you need a ride to safety?” he asked.
“No,” replied the man on top of his house. “God is going to deliver me.” About an hour later, the water was up to the roof guttering. At about that moment, an emergency official came by on his inflatable raft and offered to help.
But the man on top of his house refused to go, saying: “God is going to deliver me.”
Another hour passed and now the water was halfway up the roof. The gentleman was by then clinging to the highest point on his roof, nervously looking down at certain death and destruction.
Fortunately, a relief volunteer rowed by in a canoe and offered to take him to safety; but he once again refused, saying: “No, God is going to deliver me.”
A few of hours passed, and the waters swept over the top of the house. The man was carried away by the current, and…well…he didn’t make it.
The story goes on to tell us, that when he got to Heaven, he met Jesus and said, “I thought you were going to deliver me.”
Jesus looked down at him and said, “I sent a boat, I sent an inflatable raft, and I sent a canoe – but you refused all of them.”
You may have heard this story several times before – just as I have. But let us not be too hasty in casting judgment on the subject of this story – less by familiarity we find ourselves worthy of such judgment for our own spiritual blindness.
How many times have you personally declared that, “I just want to do God’s will!” Well if you have, your heart is certainly in the right place, and you are on the right path. But the dilemma faced by the subject of this story, is actually far more common than many of us would ever imagine.
Many of us have at some point in our lives asked this question – in fact, you may be pondering on it this very moment: “Should I be praying for perfect clarity; or for the faith to step forward in spite of a lack of perfect clarity?”
Well, the answer is that there are examples of both in scripture, as Israel’s Old Testament judges and kings regularly consulted God for direction – “Should we fight this battle or not?” And God would offer them a clear response from the outset.
The Example of David
Arguably one of the most notable biblical examples of this was David’s response to finding Ziklag destroyed, and learning that his children and wives – and those of his soldiers – had been taken captive by an unknown army.
God’s instructions and promise to David in 1 Samuel 30:8, were crystal clear; and as was expected, God did not fail to deliver on His word.
However, in other instances, there are no records of specific instruction, but of extravagant acts of faith.
David for example, stepped up to fight Goliath, trusting that “the armies of the living God” and his own skill would be enough to win the battle. He was right. It was a risky decision motivated by faith and confidence in God.
God may or may not provide precise instructions, but there is one thing about which the Bible is absolutely clear: God always desires and honors faith; and that is perhaps all the clarity that we would ever need.
Faith in Action
According to 2 Corinthians 5:7, “For we live by faith, not by sight.”
This scripture reveals that we are expected to make every decision in faith, and not by what we see. You may not be seeing the resources or a clear path right now, but faith is about having the confidence that God will provide all that is needed for a successful undertaking; and although we may not be privy to tomorrow’s challenges, our ‘faith in action’ offers us the assurance that everything… and I mean everything, will be just fine.
Faith is described in Hebrews 11:1 as “…the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
It is hard to believe that the Apostle Paul was merely offering a definition of the cornerstone of our relationship with God. In fact, this famed biblical verse is no definition at all, but an exposition on the operative value of faith.
When we exercise our faith, our relationship with God deepens, as that faith becomes confidence, and that confidence becomes trust.
Exercise your faith today, so that you will know where to turn, how to stand, and what to believe, when life’s difficult moments arise. You can only know the power of God by proving Him in your own life and circumstances.
Know When God is Speaking
It is also important for us know when God is speaking to us – as we often miss his expressions and directions in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. So here are four ways in which God speaks to us:
- First of all, God speaks through circumstances.
Did you know that God often confirms His direction through circumstances? Friends, I encourage you today to be on the alert, as when God allows situations to arise that are out of your control – He may be giving you direction through these circumstances.
According to Ecclesiastes 11:5: “As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things”
God will often use circumstances in our lives to direct us in making and confirming decisions.
- Secondly, God speaks through opportunities.
The story is told of a gentleman who constantly agonized about every decision, every opportunity and wondered, “Is this God’s will?”
So on and on and on he went. Scores of job opportunities were presented, but he never pursued any of them. Instead, he quoted a lot of scripture verses, but never made a single move.
Friends, will God ever have reason to say to you “I brought along this opportunity, or that opportunity and you refused to take them”?
I encourage you: Don’t give Him a reason to ask you that question. For our Heavenly Father works through open doors and opportunities.
If you really want to do God’s will, then act in wisdom, do something, and God will do the rest. For according to Proverbs 16:9: “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps”
- Thirdly: Has it ever crossed your mind that God speaks through spiritual counselors and mentors?
This is where most of us slip up.
We live a lonesome Christianity, and refuse to listen to wise spiritual counselors. I believe that God’s plan for the Christian in this age, is through the local church – this is my deep conviction.
Every believer should not only be a part of a local church, but should voluntarily put himself under the accountability of that church.
Now, for many of us, this is a tough pill to swallow. But the Bible sheds light on the value of wisdom many times over. Wisdom is the ability to make good decisions, spiritual decisions, and God-honoring decisions.
A wise person is expected to accept the counsel of the Christian elders in their lives (whether at home or in their local church) as God speaking to them – for that is the will of God.
- And finally, God’s will is revealed in His Word.
How simple, how profound, how true? The fact remains, that most of what God requires of you, is clearly outlined in His Word; and He will not mysteriously lead you to do something that contradicts His Word.
Ask yourself these questions:
- How much of God’s revealed Word am I following now?
- Am I faithfully seeking Him on a daily basis through Bible study and prayer?
- Am I active in ministry at a Bible-believing church?
- Have I been sharing my faith?
- Am I seeking satisfaction in Christ instead of the world?
These are just a few of many areas where the Bible touches our lives – where God’s Word is revealed to us in simple, direct language, and none of us should attempt to escape that.
So are you desirous of knowing and understanding what God is calling you to today? Have you been struggling to accept God’s divine will over yours? Does the urgency of your decisions and present circumstances make you anxious and frustrated?
If you have answered ‘yes’ to any of these, I encourage you to first of all reflect on your relationship with God – make things right with Him, and prove Him in your life today.
Secondly, if you have not done so already, find a good Christian, bible-believing church, where you can grow through consistent fellowship with other committed Christians.
And finally, seek out a good Christian mentor – it may or may not be a member of your local church, but the idea is to find someone whom you can trust, and who is spiritually grounded.
Apply these biblical examples and principles of practical Christian living to your own lives, and I can guarantee you that knowing the will of God will no longer feel like maneuvering that complicated rail-yard. Consider these your first steps to knowing the will of God for your life.