With the flurry of activity going on in my life right now (and always, it seems), this has been a central question – a question that has, at times, held me hostage and rendered me useless with analysis paralysis. All I want is to be in God’s will, but what is that, and have I missed it, and am I doing the right thing, and if I did the right thing, why did it fail? Was that God’s will? Was God’s will for me to fail? What if His will is for me to never know what His will is?
Appropriately, when I caught sight of an email from Relevant Magazine with the header “What If I Miss God’s Will?”, I had to click for a quick looksie. This linked me over to an article by Michael Hidalgo: “What If I Miss God’s Will: Is it possible for us to screw up a divine plan?” The article is a quick but potent discussion around the question, “If God wants us to be in His will and to do His will, then why is knowing His will so difficult?”
He goes on to explain how asking questions of this nature, while good, can certainly cause some hiccups:
“Often, our questions about God’s will are rooted in two things. First is our desire for a secure future. We believe if we are in God’s will, then our life ahead promises rather smooth sailing. Second, we hope to please God. We believe if we are in God’s will, He will be pleased with us and we can avoid any unnecessary punishment.”
Yep. So there it is again: Me thinking I’m trying to let God run my life while still trying to control the outcome. If I do X for God, then I can expect Y. But someone told me long ago that God doesn’t do math… while x+y might = z in earthly algebra, God’s outcomes are infinite: x+y COULD equal z… or t or sdf or d or some letter we haven’t even created yet.
The article continues by likening this viewpoint to fatalism, saying,
“Just knowing God’s plan for us seems impossible, but we hope we can find it someway, somehow. We convince ourselves God has a determined plan for us, and it is far beyond our ability to control. This belief suggests God is a deterministic deity who has planned out every single step we are supposed to take, the order in which we are to take them and the time we are to take them. Many of us have spent countless hours praying about and seeking out these steps. Deep inside, we worry about choosing what is not God’s will; believing if we miss it God will be upset with us.”
It’s a sad realization, but it’s true. To continue in this line of thinking that we must figure out God’s will then act on it reduces Him to a detached Deistic watchmaker god who set everything into motion and too bad for you if you didn’t find your path. But, in reality, to know God means you know He loves you and created You to reflect His splendor. He sent His son to die for you and has called you His son/daughter. 1 John 3:1 says, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” Then read Matthew 7:7-11, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” Oh, and the classic Jeremiah 29:11-14, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart…”
Did you catch that? We seek Him and His heart with all we are, and we will find Him. Not “you will seek my will…”, “me.” He guarantees that He has plans for our “welfare and not evil, to give [us] a future and a hope.” He does not guarantee that that future is pain-free or rolling in wealth, but whatever it is, it is for our welfare. God gives good gifts because He is a good father, He is sufficient, and His timing and purpose is always perfect.
Even if it’s not what we want.
The article concludes with a rather novel statement (to me, at least). Hildalgo says,
“God’s will, or what God wants, is the reconciliation of all things on earth or and in heaven. God’s will, what God desires, is that all men and women would be saved, and that none would suffer. God’s deep desire is the redemption, renewal and restoration of all things. He wants this so badly that Jesus shed his blood and gave his life so that He could restore peace and wholeness to our broken world.”
In short, God’s will is for the redemption and “renewal of all things.” Which means (drumroll please…): “We do not have to grope about blindly in prayer hoping we hit some cosmic bullseye called God’s will. We are freed to ask, ‘Will this decision allow me to participate more fully in God’s redemptive work in this world?'”
Sounds easy enough.
We must learn to want what He wants, and that can only be revealed by spending time with Him, developing an intimate relationship, and hearing His heartbeat. I think a day comes when we need to really sit and look God in the face. We need to remove the mirror we’ve covered Him with, take off the me-centric lenses, and fall at His feet with hands open.
Papa God, I am so sorry for continually trying to control my life and Your will for it. I lay it all down today, please help me leave it here. My hands are open – take what You will and give what You will. There’s nothing I hold on to. You are sufficient for me. You created us all solely to worship and glorify You – teach me what that looks like to You and help me to do it to the best of my ability. Show me how each decision I make allows me to partner with You and Your redemptive work in this world, and help me to have the discernment and courage to step away from the things that would block our partnership and relationship. Amen.
And with that, I leave you with the following meditation: