Knowing God's will. Most of us, if we are honest, struggle with this aspect of living the Christian life. The largest part of God's will is clear in scripture, that is why it is imperative to read God's word daily and know his will from what He has revealed there. From His word we know not to steal, lie, or cheat. The bible also reveals His plan to redeem mankind back to himself through his only Son Jesus and by his death, burial, and resurrection... the Gospel. These aspects, and many others, of God's will are plain, and written for us to know.
The aspect of God's will that we struggle with is his specific will for each individual person. Things like "Should I marry this person?", or "should I take that job?", "paper or plastic?", "Do you want fries with that?".
What if finding out God's will for every decision was as easy as typing in a destination into the navigation app on our smart phones? How cool would it be if we could just type in "heaven" for our destination and wait for it to tell us what direction to go, when to turn, and how far we would have to remain on our current street before the next turn? That "God's Will" smart phone app would also have the ability to tell us if we were approaching a traffic jam and either re-route us or just let us know how long we would be stuck in traffic. This app would not only tell us when and where to make each decision, but like the Google app, you could pull back the view and get an overall picture of what the route to your destination looks like. In this way you could have a big picture view of what was coming, and turn by turn, or decision by decision directions for each day.
Not only would this be awesome, but if you listen to some preachers, other "holier" Christians, and even our own prayers, this is often what we expect from God.
When we think that we should be hearing from God in this way, it does 2 things.
- It freezes us, and stops us from doing the good works that we were created to do in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:10).
- It sets us up to be disappointed in God or in ourselves when we fail to hear him in that way.
The smart phone app is an illustration of what we wish we had. But let me share with you an illustration of what it is that God actually gave us to find our way through the minutiae of the thousands of decision that we face every day, and even those forks in the road that are major life choices.
The survival manual teaches you how to forage for food, what is poisonous and safe, and how to find shelter. The idea of the manual is to read it as much as possible before you need it so that you will know what to do when it happens, instead of trying to read it for the first time when you have been bit by a snake. But having read it, it allows you to react properly, and still serves as a reference, when needed. It also teaches you how to navigate with the compass.
When you travel using a compass, you rarely travel in a straight line. First you must use your compass to find true north, (and for our purposes is also our direction of travel), then you set your azimuth, which is a fixed point that you can see in the distance, in the direction that you are going. You use an azimuth because you cannot see your actual destination, but the azimuth gives you an attainable, visible goal to work for that moves you in the right direction. There may be any number of obstacles to navigate between you and the azimuth that you have chosen such as hills, rivers, cliffs, walls. Things that will divert your actual course many times as you make your way towards your azimuth, and your ultimate destination. Once you reach the azimuth or goal, you use your compass to set a new azimuth and the process repeats, constantly checking the compass and making course corrections, and also using your survival manual to make sure that you are prepared for things that you will deal with while on this journey.
We see in Genesis 12:1 that God said to Abram, Go... I will tell you where, when you get there.
Jesus, when calling his disciples simply said "follow me", no map, no plan, no negotiation... just follow me. Then when their daily guide Jesus told them he was leaving them, he told them that he would send another guide... the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is our compass, the bible is our survival manual, and eternal life in Christ is our true north destination. What experiences, lie between here and there, we do not know. We do not know what is around the next corner or if we should turn left or right. But if we habitually read God's word, and walk according to the Holy Spirit, who always points to Christ, we are assured that we will reach our destination. We may be a bit battered and bruised when we arrive, but we know that rest and rejuvenation awaits us in the arms of a loving savior, whose will it was for us to experience the journey.
So for the graduating senior who is about to take responsibility for their own journey, stop looking for that app that promises turn by turn navigation. It will fail you. Besides, it can only take you on well established roads and highways. Life is messy. Life is unpredictable. That is the way God designed it. You are traveling through a world that does not want you to leave its well worn streets and alleys, for an unseen destination, on an unknown path, on which you were called to go. Follow God's call, there is no set path from your perspective. Even though God knows every step that you will take, the step is your to take.
So seniors (either high school or AARP), when you face a choice, like say... whether or not to volunteer to help reach lost and unchurched families during VBS, its okay to pray about it, but don't get stuck, waiting for a neon sign from heaven, wondering if its God's will for your life, just do what is good and right as long as it takes you in your ultimate direction... towards Christ.
And by the way the VBS Kick-off meeting for voluteers is June 7th at 4:30 in Hannon chapel ;)