Quit Agonizing Over "Finding" the Perfect Will of God and Just Get On With Your Life
The teachings of Jesus Christ and the writings of the apostles make clear that we experience God's will passively and daily. A.W. Pink once said that nothing ever happens but that God "either promotes it, permits it, or prohibits it." God is on His throne and He does as He pleases, only as He pleases and always as He pleases in us, for us and through us. The good news for us is that we are His kids, and He delights in us and is always orchestrating the events of our lives--even the mistakes we make and the afflictions that arise--for our ultimate good.
Sometimes the most benevolent thing God does for His people is to withhold knowledge of His "perfect will" (i.e. "that which we will experience in life") until the time we actually experience it. What if God had revealed to Deitrich Bonhoeffer while at Union Seminary in New York that he would be executed by the S.S. when he returned to his homeland of Germany? Was it not better for Bonhoeffer that he not know of his fate for the future but experience the reality of God's presence in his present?
Author Steve Crosby writes in his article entitled Just Ride the Bike (published in the August 2010 Global Communion e-newsletter) that "the will of God is revealed incarnationally and relationally." That means that as I begin to understand who I am and the relationship that I have to my Heavenly Father, I begin to appreciate the gifts, callings and desires He has freely given me through the new birth. I learn to just get on with living as His child, delighting in knowing He sings over me and He smiles upon me! I don't attempt to discover God's will about "this or that, right or left, north or south, for it doesn't matter." The kingdom becomes an ever-present reality, in me and through me, learning to live under the smile and "Amen" of God in Christ Jesus.
Obsessive praying about the will of God is not a sign of healthy spiritual desire or spiritual maturity. Slaves need constant instruction and direction and can only function by explicit permission. Sons are released to live because of the trust that has been established through relationship. Slaves walk by instruction and information. Sons walk by faith and trust. As heretical as it seems, sons don’t need constant instruction.
Crosby gives a parable to cement the idea that the will of God is bound up in relationship.
A benevolent father determined to give his son a bicycle for his 11th birthday, which fell on a Monday. Here’s how the week unfolded:
He gave his son the bike and the son asks: “Dad, can I ride it?” and the father says, “Of course son, that’s why I gave it to you. It’s to be ridden.”
The son comes into his father timidly, sheepishly, with eyes down cast and says: “Dad, I am really not worthy of this bike, are you sure I can ride it?” The father says, “Of course son, ride it.”
The son comes in crying and pleading: “Oh father, I fell off the bike yesterday, can I have your permission to ride the bike?” The father gets a tad annoyed and says, “Quit bothering me. Get out of here, and ride your bike. Falling off is part of the process.”
The son comes in on his hands and knees, wailing and moaning: “Oh Dad, I know you are a great dad, full of mercy and kindness, and you have given me this bike that I am unworthy of . . . can I ride it today?” The father says, “Son, I gave you the bike because I expect you to ride it. Please, don’t do this anymore, just ride it.”
The son comes in, throws himself prostrate on the floor before the father, and with wailing, moaning, and tears: “Oh father, is it your will for me to ride the bike today, can I have your permission?” The exasperated father has had it, loses his cool and says: “Quit bothering me and ride the &^%$##$%^&*(*&^$#@ bike!”
Allowing for the limitations of the parable, Crosby concludes that it illustrates exactly how most Christians pray about the will of God. We believe if we are somehow earnest enough about how unworthy we are, God will somehow be persuaded to reveal something He is otherwise not inclined to reveal. We’re funny in this way, because we would react strongly to pagans who view their gods as having to be assuaged or conditioned to make their will known, but in our own prayer practices, we act like pagans instead of sons.
In the parable, the father’s will has been revealed in the act of giving the bike. The existence of the bike as a gift, presupposes the intent of the giver that it is to be ridden. The son does not have to ask about his father’s will.
What has our heavenly Father given us and what does it presuppose?
• His smile
• His satisfaction
• His rest
• His love
• His indwelling Spirit
• His “amen” over Christ in us
• His gifts and graces
• His calling
• His blessing on the new creation in us . . . and so much more.
Every moment of life is presenced with Him and His will. We live, and move, and have our being in Him. There’s never a time we are apart. Together we enter into His revealed will by simply living life, turning our hearts toward Him, and relating to Him. If the matter at hand is not sin, then there’s no need to agonize over a mystical idea of the revealed will of God. It will unfold as we experience life together. We do not need advance prescription that any specific activity is, or is not, “His will.”
So much of the “seek God’s will” teaching is based on insecurity, the fear of making a mistake, and a desire for self-protection. We erroneously believe that if we just had the right divine information we could avoid a wrong decision and its temporal consequences.
Steve Crosby suggsests that knowing the specific will of God for our lives is really quite easy:
1. Is it sin . . . yes or no?
2. Is it consistent with my identity, gifts, calling and desires?
3. Is the door open?
If no to #1, and yes to #2 & #3, then quit the guilt laden, religiously motivated, straining, and striving prayer about the will of God and just get on with it!