How do we know when something is God’s will?
This is where too many of us struggle with confusion. We carry a belief that God’s will is something remote and difficult to understand. It’s the target we always miss but keep trying to hit. That’s why this verse, in its utter simplicity and straightforwardness, is a relief.
God works in us so that we can know His will. Then, He empowers us so you we do it. It’s His work that makes the difference, not ours.
His will is not a way God teases us with some maize where we can’t find our way through. His will is as knowable as sun on our cheek, as personal as a love letter, and as close as our heartbeat.
As God lives in us through His Holy Spirit, His ever-presence, and embodiment of His complete character; He gives us everything we need to know about His will.
That doesn’t mean that the first thing we always think of is God’s will. We tend to be stuck on what we want and what we think makes sense. However, it does mean that God’s will is within our mental and spiritual reach. It does mean that God never intended His will to be our greatest struggle. He wants it to be our rescue and empowerment. He wants His will to tether us to every resource He wants to share.
So why do we make a struggle to know God’s will? Here are two major reasons:
1. We don’t connect His will with His Word.
His Word to us in scripture covers every relationship, act, dream, value and life plan by principle. His Word won’t suddenly rearrange letters to spell out why we’re having difficulty getting along with someone at work, but it will tell us exactly what we are to give to anybody: kindness, courtesy, understanding, love, forgiveness. That’s God’s will for all of us.
God’s will is every principle He’s communicated through story, warning, letter, and dialogue. Do you remember the verse we looked at some weeks ago: “Know what God’s Word says and means?” (2 Timothy 2:15, TLB) That’s the first step in knowing God’s will. Without His Word in our heart, the Holy Spirit can’t help us remember it.
2. We don’t connect God’s will with God’s character.
We must get to know God’s character in order to know His will. It’s not what fills our heads that helps us know God and His will; it’s Who fills our heart. God will not affirm any action that does not represent His character. Nor is He a one-note God—only love or only justice or only anything. He is All Love at the same time He is All Justice. We tear Him into pieces to fit our world view to our own undoing.
When we ask God to live in us with the fullness of His character, He plants a hunger for His character that we can nurture. As His character grows in us, we know His will better.
That doesn’t mean that God’s will shows up like a neon sign we can’t miss. It means that when we need to know God’s will, we connect with His desire to give His will. We surrender everything we say His will has to be so that we can know what His will is. We live the confidence that God wants us to know His will while waiting to know it.
God’s will brings God’s joy. While doing it isn’t always a party, it always brings a celebration to God’s heart. His will creates a straight path to His heart. That’s where I want to end up with every choice, every dream, every day because that’s where all the joy is.
A Bible teacher helped me learn to use the phrase affirm God’s will rather than find God’s will. It takes some of the struggle out of this subject. I affirm what I know about God so that what I know points me in the direction of His will for me.
Like I said, it’s simple and complicated. So live the simple for this day. Realize that you can know God’s will for you today. And then, do the same thing tomorrow. Then, God’s will becomes a pattern, not a struggle. Isn’t that where we all want to live?