Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Quit Agonizing Over "Finding" the Perfect Will of God and Just Get On With Your Life

There is not one verse, not one,  in the New Testament that exhorts the believer to “seek the will of God.”  Every command regarding seeking God's face or God's will is in the old economy. Christians who emphasize seeking the will of God for their lives are operating under a broken system of assumptions, not the least of which is that God's will is actually "lost" and needs found or "hidden" and needs revealed or "best" and can be missed.

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!


Bob Cleveland said...

As I remarked to someone last week, it seems that we have to learn a lot to understand how simple it really is.

I should know .. it took me 30 or 40 years.

David said...

I don't disagree with all of your assertions but I do have a question. Wade how do you deal with Romans 12:1-2
Romans 12
A Living Sacrifice to God
1 And so, dear brothers and sisters,[a] I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.[b] 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

John Notestein said...

I wish I had known this 40 years ago, but then, if I had, I would have missed out on all that growth I got by learning it the hard way.

Bob Cleveland said...

Not to answer for Rev. Burleson, but verse 2 tends to prove the point.

Be transformed and you will know.

I was lucky. One of my first mentors clued me in that God made me the way I am, the way I became in the new birth, and He intends for me to follow through with what He already put there in me. Subject, of course, to the 3 points mentioned above.

Sorry, Wade. Couldn't resist.

Alan Paul said...

My first thought was the same as David's... but it seems that if we're to learn to know what God's will is after being transformed (or rather in the process of being transformed) - then assuming God's will is both general (that which is true of all Christians - the major practices of the faith regarding morality, etc.) and specific (he has a purpose for each of us individually relating to our gifts), then in my mind, David's question still remains. Romans 12:2 seems to say that we won't know God's will automatically but that it will be a process of learning to know God's will. There is still ambiguity. Of course this is based upon the English...

Eric O said...

Perhaps I'm missing your point as I see the bike example as a bit silly. A real world example would be the couple who are seeking god's will with respect to their going on the mission field. They Pray, seek council, look for "open doors" , seek scripture........they pray for God's will.

Garen Martens said...

A very freeing day was when I quit begging for Him to show His will then just started noticing his will as he chose to reveal it to me.

Bob Cleveland said...

Could it be that those who "agonize over "finding" the perfect will of God.." are relying more upon their ability to discern, than on God's ability to communicate?

I know that our first "instructions" to go to a mission field, in 1970, were so clear that I've never once doubted His ability, since, to put "His desires in my heart", in the sense of the center of my will.

Eddy Williams said...

Wade, this is a great post! I am glad that I clicked over to check your blog this morning!

Light M. said...

Great post, Wade. When I hear people talk about finding God's will for their life, as in, "Which college should I go to?" or "Which house should I buy?" I want to scream. It's as if God's will is a bulls eye they must hit dead center, or they will be out of God's will. Someone once likened God's will not to a bulls eye target, but rather to a huge meadow where we are free to roam. That helped me a great deal, but your explanation is even better.

shadowspring said...

Personally I wish couples would stop seeking God's will about whether or not to go to the mission field. The whole entire world is a mission field. They should rather pray to be like Jesus in all they do, wherever they live. Great Commandment first, Great Commission as a natural consequence of the Great Commandment.

Being accepted by a mission board is no sign that it is God's will for you to be a missionary. People beef up on doctrine and training and head overseas, thinking that they are called because a mission board accepted them. As if the letter of the scripture is all the world is missing, rather than the ministry of the life-giving Spirit flowing from the hearts of disciples in daily connection with the Lord Jesus, living the lives of love we are all called to live.

There are a lot of people on the mission field today who don't belong there, and the ungodly practice of child abandonment in the name of missions is a blot on the entire practice. How can anyone harden their hearts to their own flesh and blood and claim to love God, much less the foreigners they "serve"? It's Orwellian the mental gymnastics required for such hypocrisy.


That's my response to a couple praying about going to the mission field. Balderdash! Pray to be conformed to the image of Christ in all things, to love like He loves, and if you too have the heart of a shepherd for God's people, then you'll know what you must do to be happy- feed His sheep.

There where and the who should be governed by love. If you let love lead, then your path in life should be plain enough.

-wife a an MK/PK whose life would be very different is his parents put obeying the Great Commandment over the Great Commission

Unknown said...

Great post! . . . My husband and I have been talking a lot of the same type things recently about God's will. I, as another reader, immediately thought of the Roman's 12 passage. However, I don't believe that verse 2 is referring to the secret will of God, but the revealed will of God. Being IN His will is not a matter of location, but only a matter of our obedience to the revealed will of God (bible) and our genuine worship/adoration of Him who deserves all glory. God does the rest!! Much less complicated than we tend to make it!! (verse 2 of Romans 12 meaning daily process of transformation of our minds (like in Eph 4) to better understand His revealed will - - opening our mind to the Scriptures)

Bob Cleveland said...

There are also plenty of verses which promise that He WILL direct our steps, He WILL establish our thoughts, He WILL make our paths straight, He WILL give us the desires of our hearts .. that we certainly need to trust Him to do just that, subject of course to the objective standards Wade mentioned.

Anonymous said...

Obsessive praying about the will of God is not a sign of healthy spiritual desire or spiritual maturity.

I love this quote, especially. Those of us who have been to a Christian college knw the drill here. This topic is one of the top three chapel sermons, people constantly 'struggle' with 'God's will' and they are seen as oh so holy!!1!!

It irritated me then and I just have to scream at my FB feed when I see these very same people, who have just sort of let life happen while waiting for 'God's will,' are *still* dithering over it.

I actually know someone who prays over what pair of plain, white socks to wear every day. Really? I know God cares abot the little things, but you are bugging Him about identical, plain, white socks?

*headdesk* Sometimes I just want to scream out, "OH FOR {bleeps} SAKE! SHUT UP!!" I wonder if God ever feels that way.


Rex Ray said...

The story goes that a woman prayed very often in church that started each prayer:

“Lord, brush these cobwebs from my brain” until an old deacon yelled:
“Lord, kill that spider!”

On the other hand, was Paul content with life when he wrote: ‘Oh, that I could get a hold of that which I was gotten a hold for’?

Did he dream of preaching as Peter’s first sermon where 5,000 were saved? Hey! Would every preacher be on cloud nine if that happened with them?

Should we aim high in life? It’s been said you can get more volunteers to look for a lion than a mouse.

In Fairbanks, Alaska the Parks and Recreation Director asked the University for twenty volunteers to work all night, but with the warning they may be arrested.

“If they might get arrested, I can get you forty!”

Christiane said...


I love your stories so much.
What you know about human nature is a lot.
Thanks for brightening my morning.

In Christ, peace

Anonymous said...

Great blog. Only problem I have is question #3? a little to simplistic in life to go by closed door/open door theology because there could be a door closed that God wants you to push through and as a son our father is teaching us to be sons by going through the door. To walk by faith not by sight and see a door open and think this must be what's next because the door is open. But is it? Key of being a disciple is to hear our father as sons and daughters and then obey. So walking in spirit will allow us to discern. We have to be able to hear in order to obey. Great blog!

Christiane said...

I think this post opens a window into the seven petitions of the Lord's Prayer. Or maybe it works in reverse.

But the connection is there, I think.

Anonymous said...

For Christian people, the grace of a deeper understanding of God's paternity is the gift of God's Merciful Love revealed to us in His incarnate Son, Jesus.

Our life, in Christ, is nothing other than living as a child of the Father ("as sons in the Son"), with absolute trust.
In the Gospel of St. Matthew, Chapter 18, we learn, from the Words of Jesus, that
"If you do not become like little children, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven",
(Mt 18:3).

Anonymous said...

"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. "

Depending on your take of the above information,
you can 'accept' God's Will that right was done,
or you can 'accept' God's Will that He permitted something to happen to show just how far down our country has come morally from the America we grew up in:


For more info, contact this person:

Mayor: David Neil Crocker
700 Milton Counce Drive
South Fulton, TN 38257

Ben said...

What do we do with Romans 12:2 -“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Ben said...

"Could it be that those who "agonize over "finding" the perfect will of God.." are relying more upon their ability to discern, than on God's ability to communicate?"

I guess settling for His permissive will rather than His perfect will is best for the believer.

Somebody just flushed Henry Blackaby.

P M Prescott said...

Maybe this begging God to find out his will is a backhand way of doing what we want and then asking if it's his will?

Anonymous said...

There are a few responses to this thread and to several comments made afterwards I would make.

One, last I checked, God is fully prepared and able to reveal His Will to us.

In fact, one only needs to read these verses and read between the lines of these verses to capture prominently an understanding of "His Will":

Exo 20:1 And God spoke all these words, saying,
Exo 20:2 "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
Exo 20:3 "You shall have no other gods before me.

Now, of course, one would have to assume the same experience of some sort of slavery to understand that we are first slaves of sin before being born again, an act of God mind you, to now be clothed in Robes of Righteousness because we are now slaves of Righteousness?

Here's a couple of companion verses to that moniker, that is, God, "I am the Lord thy God":

Mat 6:31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'
Mat 6:32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
Mat 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Mat 6:34 "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Mat 7:21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Mat 7:22 On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?'
Mat 7:23 And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'

By virtue of reading with understanding, both Moses and Jesus, one can assume all "lawlessness" is not an act of the Will of God.

Now, as for praying for the Will of God. Here's something or rather, someone else you should pray to God for when it comes to knowing the Will of God:

Col 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.
Col 4:13 For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis.

When praying for the Will of God to be known, one gets a sense that the Apostle Paul and brother Epaphras understood we should be praying for others to stand mature and fully assured in all of the Will of God.

Seeing we don't have to be like the Gentile nations are, selfishly seeking their own welfare anymore, we can gladly give ourselves to praying for others instead that they too would mature and come into a full understanding of the Will of God!

Finally, as to the reference made above by one commenter about the depth of meaning of Romans 12:1, I would only note something about that with regard to "reason".

There is a Greek word that the Apostle Peter and Paul use. This Greek word is used only twice in the New Testament. Paul uses this Greek word there at Romans 12:1 and Peter uses it at 1 Peter 2:2.

The Greek word used is this one:

From G3056; rational (“logical”): - reasonable, of the word.

What then can we learn about how we come to know the Will of God for our lives?

Well, as you can read there, both Paul and Peter teach us to start with reading the Scriptures first and foremost, and then in, communion with other Bible reading Saints, we should ask questions about what this means or that means or, ironically, we can even read blogs like this one, seeing it seems to me this one conveys more practical understanding and application of the Will of God than other blogs I visit! :)

Bob Cleveland said...

I never have bought God's "permissive will" and His "perfect will". And nobody has flushed Blackaby anywhere that I know of.

Ben said...

Betweenthis blog and the dog's blog (which have referenced each other along the way) we now know that many tightly held beliefs now mean nothing.

1 - The perfect will of God is not worth seeking.

2 - The local church, if you find disagreement with it, is not worth supporting.

3 - The tithe is a lie and all preachers who preached this are dead wrong. Though our dearly beloved pastors of past preached it and we refuse to spew how wrong they were.

4 - Wives should not submit to their husbands, it is just simply unbiblical.

Man have we come a long way in our spirituality. For so many to be so wrong for so long is just an amazing reality.

Anonymous said...

'Man have we come a long way in our spirituality. For so many to be so wrong for so long is just an amazing reality.'

it's the merger with politics and culture . . . as long as you vote a certain way and hate the right people, your 'in', church is just an after-thought where they also tell you how to vote and who you must hate this month, ummm... let's see, they call it 'confronting sin'

same thing

david b mclaughlin said...

John MacArthur has a great little book called FOund: God's Will. The basic concept is this; if the NT says do it, God's will is to for you to do it. If the NT says don't do it, God's will is for you not to do it. Other than that, do what you want.

Love it.

AS for Rom 12:1-2, the point is that as we grow in Christ and become more Christlike, we know what His will is because we know Him and His word better.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Ben: Yes. And I think a thorough study of scripture given will support what is being said. It's freeing. I pray that more will see these Biblical truths. Christ's ministry, death on the cross and resurrection made all this possible. Some people just feel better by doing and doing. The truth is Christ freed us not put us in further bondage.

Bob Cleveland said...

Jesus said He came so we could have abundant life. A gift, attained by faith in His completed work on the cross.

When you give your kids a gift, do you want them to want it? Do you want to get them something they'd like to have?

I think God wants us to have an abundant life. He wants us to want it. And He laid out the plans for how to have one. To me, we should want to be obedient to his Word, so we can have what He wants us to have. But I don't think He wants us to follow the trail of clues, on some sort of desperate fear-laden or guilt-ridden trip.

Tom Kelley said...

Ben said...
Between this blog and the dog's blog (which have referenced each other along the way) we now know that many tightly held beliefs now mean nothing.

Are you misrepresenting what others are writing on purpose, or do you just not have good reading comprehension?

1 - No one said "The perfect will of God is not worth seeking". Many have said that the will of God isn't a secret as it is revealed in His Word and in our lives, so it should be lived, not fretted over.

2 - No one said "The local church, if you find disagreement with it, is not worth supporting." Many have said that churches and pastors do not deserve blind loyalty, and it is appropriate to hold church leaders and people accountable to behave in the ways that the Bible directs them to.

3 - No one said "The tithe is a lie and all preachers who preached this are dead wrong. Though our dearly beloved pastors of past preached it and we refuse to spew how wrong they were." Many have said that the doctrine of "storehouse tithing" (give 10% of your income to a local church or you are disobeying and robbing God)) is not biblical, but gracious and generous giving to meet the needs of others is biblical.

4 - No one has said "Wives should not submit to their husbands, it is just simply unbiblical." Many have said that both husbands and wives are to submit to each other, as Ephesians 5:21 says.

Ben, what you infer is not necessarily what others imply.


Bill said...

People are confusing God with the Easter Bunny. God does not hide His will and expect us to search for it. And then hold us responsible for not doing what He didn't tell us in the first place.

Follow what is revealed in Scripture, pray for wisdom, and do what you want.


Anonymous said...

"Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, KEEP SEEKING the things above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things on earth." Col. 3:1-2

"And they prayed and said, 'You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, SHOW which one of these two you have chosen.." Acts 1:24

"When they had appointed elders for them in every church, HAVING PRAYED AND FASTING, they commended them..." Acts 14:23

"be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time... So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." Eph. 5:15-17

I think this is an example of how the position we take concerning "irresistible grace", "predestination", etc. influences the way we function in our relationship with God and how we interpret His Word. Wade would take a more "passive" interpretation of how God's will is discerned or experienced. I see our relationship with God as being more pro-active.

I see multiple passages where God's Word instructs us to constantly be praying and seeking to know where God wants to lead us each day, at each crossroad.

Certainly there are times where God asserts His sovereignty in ways that result in our being in harmony with His will but I know He instructs us to understand what His will is in our life.

"I know you want me to ride the bicycle, but tell me WHERE you want me to ride it. Which path should I take?"

Debbie Kaufman said...

RRR: The answer is simple. He wants you to ride that bike on the path you want to take. Unless it is sin and forbidden in the Bible, the path you take is up to you. That's freedom in Christ.

Anonymous said...

God goes before us always.

Strider said...

What about all those looking for God's imperfect will? Sorry, I couldn't pass that up. Church speak is a funny thing sometimes. And you are correct in the point of your post that the agonizing over finding God's 'perfect' will is a source of guilt and manipulation.
But... I don't want the pendulum to swing too far the other way. We don't need to get up every morning in a paralyzing panic over this issue of turning left when we should turn right. But the Holy Spirit does speak and He does guide. We can hear His voice and be guided by Him on issues great and small. It is not a matter of fear of missing the commands of a taskmaster but of relating intimately with the one who knows us well and loves us deeply.

Also, being who I am I can not let the Missions issue go. Shadowspring, It is true that some missionaries have done a poor job of loving their children. However, I will put up MK's as a group against any group you can think of and bet that they are overall more in tune with God and man and better equipped to face the world.
We follow a God who is on Mission and since He gave up everything (Heaven, His Son, His life, etc) for the Kingdom it is not much of a stretch to believe the same will be asked of us.
I am in Middle Earth because God empowered me to be here. Some have come who were not called- they are not still here. God calls us and empowers us to life to the fullest- abundant life. You wont find that in the business as usual-sit and watch Amazing Race-Man vs Wild-TV-pseudo life.

Ben said...

Well the illustration youchoose is terible. You have a son representing us (His children) and a dad representing God. At the end, the dad (God) loses His temper and throws out a string of expletives.

Very unwise choice.

Ben said...

The bible teaches us we have not because we ask not. If we follow this idea, we will have not because we have been taught we are not to ask - so we don't and we live without. We have simply decided to get on with life and leave God out of the equation.

How do you read the bible without asking what His will is?

Rex Ray said...

You have a way of making my day with your replies. Thank you. The stories around this project would fill a book, but here is one:

My brother, Hez, was Parks and Recreation Director. He organized the city’s purchase of an abandoned aircraft hanger from the government for one dollar. With volunteers, it was disassembled, moved 150 miles, and reassembled. The project was mainly for kids to have a place to play. It was complete except the Fire Marshall would not allow the large sliding doors in each end to be put in place until a fire sprinkler system was installed. There was no money and after months of haggling, Hez called the mayor and the ‘powers that be’ if they’d like to be in a newspaper picture with the doors being installed. Assuming Hez had permission; they were thrilled. The next day’s newspaper headlines told the doors were up with the picture of the men poised as if they were lifting them. The doors were put in place with the aid of a crane from the Army and volunteers that worked through the night. When the newspaper hit the streets, half the town came by honking and waving. They were all happy except the Fire Marshall. His raving would have made the pastor in Wade’s face look like a friendly discussion.

“If you want them down, take them down.”

“You know I can’t take them down! I’m demanding you take them down!”

“I got volunteers to put them up, but I’m not able to get anyone to take them down.”

And so the doors stayed up, and the ‘wind tunnel’ changed to a multi-million dollar ice arena and other activities for kids and the city. To this day, a $5,000 plate at the entrance tells the story of the “Hez Ray Recreation Sport Center” in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Someday, I hope to see it. (IF that’s God’s will.) Got to get a little on topic. :)

I agree Wade’s example of the dad ‘cursing’ does not represent God. Seeing that ‘stuff’ makes my skin crawl no matter where I see it.

Larry E Collins said...

Not long after was save, I asked the guy who helped lead me to salvation, "How will I find the will of God." He said something that has helped me my whole life. He said, "Finding the will of God is not a once-for-all kind of thing. It's not a road map with all of the roads marked. The key is to get up, live every day of your life as He has called you to live it, and when you look backwards, you will find you have lived the will of God. It's a daily thing."

Anonymous said...

Posting, having not read the comment stream:

Wade, I agree with the initial assumption of your post, but I am not sure you need to become a dispensationalist to make your point. Nothing has changed in how we come to God today than "in the old economy." We are to seek His face--seek His will daily. God, unlike the father in the sad and faulty analogy WANTS us to lay prostrate before Him daily, seeking His will as a child before his daddy. This is what God yearns for. He takes joy in filling and loving and comforting His 'stupid little children,' then maturing them for greater service in the process. I do not dislike your post, but it is one of those subjects we think about, yet as mere humans are incapable of correctly expressing to other humans due to our finiteness--this dealing with a character of God that is incomprehensible. And so, it is almost as if your post tells the new believer to not seek the will and face of God. That is wrong. My post serves as a disclaimer.

Finally, knowing the will of God is never achieved by knowing more about ourselves--even in Christ, but by knowing Him more fully, and loving Him more fully, and being obedient to Him more fully as He strengthens us in our walk with Him.

You post made me think, I like that, but I came to a different conclusion.

Thanks for playing!


Anonymous said...

PS: Just read the comment stream, and am happy to announce a new morning prayer to the Divine Office called "Sock-time Prime" or, for the early risers, "Lilly-White Lauds."

God wants you to get his opinion on what socks to wear. It is not an imposition. Just be sure to talk about other things and give Him glory for providing the lamb that provided the wool for those socks.

Prayer takes practice, everyone on here keeps talking about Christian maturity...God is laughing at you. He's rather hear about your socks than your pride.


wadeburleson.org said...

Ben and Rex,

It's Steve Crosby's illustration, not mine. :)

Anonymous said...


Was it God's will that I read your Blog?


Romans 5:1

Anonymous said...

Wade has taken Revelation 1:11 a bit too literally:

"Write what you see in a book and send it..." (ESV)


Ben said...


Is that a cop out?

You used it and I don't think you had to. Yet, if you don't have to seek God's will on such things (whether an illustration is appropriate or not) it is evident that as we get on with our lives we will willfully choose that which is obviously not God's will.

Maybe if you would have sought God's will on the matter you would have chosen something that did not symbolize God cursing.

*These are my words or words I will use and stand behind. I am not blaming anyone else for the words I type.

wadeburleson.org said...


I use many things with which I do not always agree. It is neither my bent nor my style to constantly correct other people.

I don't take what people write as gospel. Steve Crosby's illustration falls short in more ways than one, but it is helpful in more ways than one as well.

wadeburleson.org said...


It's God's will that I not answer you.


wadeburleson.org said...


"God, unlike the father in the sad and faulty analogy WANTS us to lay prostrate before Him daily, seeking His will as a child before his daddy. This is what God yearns for"

Unlike your view of God, I have a hard time seeing God "yearning" or "wanting" anything. It seems to me Scripture teaches He is sufficient within Himself.

Cindy K said...

I wish I had read this 30 years ago!!!

In Assemblies of God and as a tender hearted person who wanted so much to do right for so many reasons (some due to earning salvation mixed with my heart full of love for Jesus), I stressed constantly over God's will. If I messed up and was in the wrong place at the wrong time, I wouldn't be there to give a witness and someone would go to hell. I heard ministers preach about how God showed them millions of people that would have gone to hell if they failed to go into the ministry.

That was the most potent selling point of the Reformed perspective for me -- that I did not have to labor constantly in fear over what my action or lack thereof would turn into to other people (not that it is not still a sober concern! There is always balance in these matters -- between doing what's right and doing it for the right reasons, without fear but out of love.) If I missed the mark to witness, God could send others, move heaven and earth, send angels or have the rocks cry out with the truth to witness to someone who needed the Gospel message and was meant to hear it. Someone else's eternal fate was not contingent upon my history of haplessness to get things right, not for lack of desire but for my own human limitations. And I learned to rest in the promise that God was working to will and do of His good pleasure and that He had ordered my steps.

This is a lovely thing that I wish I had discerned as a little girl. But I'm glad it's being said now, just the same. My heart for the lost could have rested more peacefully in a sovereign God who is not limited by my fallible ways. If we're all ultimately depending on me and people like me-- stinkin
human flesh, we're all in big trouble!!!!

Anonymous said...

Debbie said: "RRR: The answer is simple. He wants you to ride that bike on the path you want to take. Unless it is sin and forbidden in the Bible, the path you take is up to you. That's freedom in Christ."

I imagine that we primarily see things the same way.

I doubt that you intend to say that we just move along in life indifferent to those things that God may have to say to us. But that's the way it could be perceived.

I don't consider that position as having "freedom in Christ". I consider that as being robots or puppets without having fellowship with God. In that case God would be the puppet-master, pulling the strings and dictating our every movement. I'm sure that's not what Debbie or Wade is proposing.

Some of my most intimate and meaningful times in fellowship with God are those times when I have a decision to make as to what God would have me do. For instance, should our family accept what's basically the same assignment in Malawi or Zambia? Or should we transfer from a church planting position in Zambia to go to Thailand?

During times like those I would love for God to just unfold a giant sky-writing saying; "GO TO ZAMBIA!" or "GO TO THAILAND" or "TAKE THE PASTORATE IN SOUTH CAROLINA!"

But invariably He doesn't work that way. We've seen candidates for ISC assignments at Richmond cry as the deadline approaches and they must decide which assignment in the world they are to commit for the next two years. It's intense and people have never prayed more earnestly.

I believe that God loves the attention and glory we give Him during those times and to flippantly suggest that we are to just stroll along and wait for God to dictate what we're to do seems to remove an important aspect of our relationship as Father and child.

But I still think that if we were sitting together that we would conclude that we see things pretty much the same way and have had the same sort of experiences.

Cindy K said...

Ben said...

Well the illustration youchoose is terrible. You have a son representing us (His children) and a dad representing God. At the end, the dad (God) loses His temper and throws out a string of expletives.

Very unwise choice.

I guess that I don't understand the problems that many Christians have with analogies. Some are good ones and some aren't as good as others. Parables can be any analogy meant to communicate a truth, but for us Christians, it tends to suggest that if it is a parable, it is divine. But people get upset when we think about things like this and come up with illustrations to communicate a truth, thinking that they are being told to accept that illustration as though it is Gospel truth.

I guess I take for granted that people should know and trust and exercise discernment when they read things or hear sermons or anything. It's only authoritative if it's in the Bible, and the rest that we put on the outside of it is just window dressing. We should be focused on the truth communicated, not so much on the analogy itself as though these things were literal. (Sometimes those Bible analogies are not literal either. We still eat figs, though Jesus cursed that one fig tree. We still eat fish, though we are to make disciples from people who are likened to fish.)

It's just a story to illustrate a point. The point is the focus, not the illustration as a spiritual truth unto itself.

Ben said...

Wade and Cindy K.

It is not about using analogies or illustrations we agree with or not, it is about using one that promotes vulgarity in it (by using it) and has the vulgarity being used by someone symbolizing God.

God is divine, that is why it is wrong.


"It is neither my bent nor my style to constantly correct other people."

Nor is it mine but many of your blog posts are pointing fingers at others wrongs (or your perception of others as wrong). Oh, you do it with a sweet tongue (or fingers on a keyboard) but something wrong stated nicely or ugly, is still wrong.

You are more than bright enough to see this. I sit here and wonder why the need to always e right is so consuming you.

If I am wrong, I'll gladly admit it but on this one I have not yet been convinced.

Ben said...

"It's just a story to illustrate a point. The point is the focus, not the illustration as a spiritual truth unto itself."

This sounds a lot like what a man told. He said it was OK for him to buy Playboy. He bought them for the articles not the pictures.

Gary Snowden said...


In your response to Kevin, you mention it's difficult for you to conceive of God as "yearning" or "wanting" anything since Scripture teaches He is sufficient within Himself.

I would agree with the basic premise that God isn't lacking in anything in the sense that we must somehow supply some supposed insufficiency in Him. He clearly is the giver and sustainer of life.

To move beyond that premise though to say that God doesn't yearn or want anything is a faulty step I believe, given that there are many passages in which we read expressly that God desires or wants things.

Just a few quick verses that come to mind without doing any kind of an online search or thumbing through a concordance:

1. Jesus' lament over Jerusalem in Matt. 23 where He expresses how often He has longed to gather her children together as a hen gathers her chicks, but they were unwilling.

2. Paul's statement in 1 Tim. 2:4 that God desires all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

3. 2 Pet. 3:9 that explains the delay in Christ's return by reason of God's patient desire that all might come to repentance.

I think while God doesn't need us in one sense, it's clear that He earnestly desires our salvation and to have a relationship with us. In that vein, He clearly does yearn and desire for that which was lost to be found, as Jesus expressed in Lk. 19:10.

shadowspring said...

One of my favorite pastors put it this way:

If you want to know the will of God, get moving. It's impossible to steer a parked car.

I liked it when he put it that way, but I also liked Wade's analogy because it made it clear that running into trouble along the way doesn't mean you are not "in the will of God". Trouble is just a part of life, like falling down when you learn to ride a bike.

Good post, imho.

Anonymous said...

As Bob said, "it seems that we have to learn a lot to understand how simple it really is". Very true!

"Decision Making and the Will of God" by Friesen and Maxson was the book that taught me a lot to help me understand how simple it is! I don't worry about getting a "feeling" that I should take one road or the other. I ask God to guide and protect me and give me wisdom. And on days like today I take the scenic route and enjoy His creation without fear of being on the wrong road!


Strider said...

Well Wade I hope you have learned something about analogies. Never cast God as an insensitive father...or a slaveholder...or an unjust judge. That would clearly be disrespectful.

shadowspring said...

@ Strider

Love your pseudonym; I chose mine from the Riddle of Strider.

But I must disagree with the rest of your post. You obviously didn't check out the links I included very thoroughly. Some mks find healing in Christ for the wound inflicted upon them in the name of the mission. Many wander wounded and live life in a fog of pain. Some walk away from Christ entirely, unable to reconcile a loving God with the punishing, abandoning, unconcerned deity presented to them by the faith of their parents and the mission.

Do your research, and then if you would like to debate whether or not mks are super-Christians or casualties of unprincipled religion, come on over to fandaeagles.com Join the forum and start teaching and/or learning, as the case may be.

Peace and good will, SS

ml said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...


reaction of eight month old baby who is deaf to new cochlear implants being activated.

Why is this important to this post?

Well, if we cannot 'hear His Voice', we are, as sheep, able to wander away, and if we 'hear His Voice', and obey, He can bring us to safety.
The Holy Spirit activates the mechanism by which we are attuned to Our Lord's Voice and can follow His Will.

Look at the joy on the baby's face as he hears his mother's voice for the first time:


Bob Cleveland said...

This whole thing .. including the conversation .. reminds me of the truth of Ken Hemphill's course entitled "Serving God". A lot of people seem afraid to do what God puts in their heart .. their mind .. to do, because they don't think they're worthy or they're able.

My first mission venture was a witnessing crusade to Haiti in 1970. God put the desire to go there, but didn't make the arrangements until I told the sponsor I'd go. In today's religious (and that's a perfectly good word to use) climate, we seem more interested in working out the details than in committing to do. To go.

The biggest fault is probably that God does put His will in our hearts and we think it's just a personal desire so look for some "sign", or don't trust Him to enable that for which He gave us the desire.

I've seen many, many more instances of that in the past 40 years, than of the opposite.

Debbie Kaufman said...

RRR: I don't have a direct quote but Charles Spurgeon answered your comment as well as I can. He said when we are in relationship with Christ and fellowship, we can do whatever we please and know that it is God's will. :) Great answer. I just think most Christians stress themselves out more than they should on this subject. God is pleased with us the moment of salvation. He is faithful until the day we die. Phil. 1:6.

Others telling us what is God's will and what isn't outside of scripture...for example don't leave this church, don't move(name a place), is a matter of control, something we need to entrust to the HS.

Lydia said...

"Well, if we cannot 'hear His Voice', we are, as sheep, able to wander away, and if we 'hear His Voice', and obey, He can bring us to safety.
The Holy Spirit activates the mechanism by which we are attuned to Our Lord's Voice and can follow His Will.

Exactly. What is missing from this thread is the Holy Spirit. But if we teach on the Holy Spirit's function in a believer's life, then we won't need "specially anointed" humans as much. And some folks might have to start looking for paying jobs elsewhere. :o)

Lydia said...

oops, sorry Debbie. I did not see that you had mentioned the Holy Spirit!

Anonymous said...

The role of 'conscience' also needs to be explored.

Rex Ray said...

After my dad became a Christian as a young boy, the Holy Spirit started working on him to stop stealing from a patch of water-melons.

He and his brothers enjoyed the ‘retaliation’ of a neighbor claiming more land by moving his fence until they called the road, ‘Stingy-Lane’.

As he was about to take one, he decided to ask God about it. He knelt on his knees over a big one. After a long time he was disappointed that no answer came, but when he opened his eyes a large snake was on top of the melon.

I guess that was the ‘reverse’ of a different Garden.

Someone has said that our purpose in life was to know God better that we will enjoy Him more throughout eternity.

Rex Ray said...

“The role of ‘conscience’ also needs to be explored.”

Someone said, “Conscience is the result of God choosing to remain anonymous.”

Tom Kelley said...

Interesting post and comments. All good food for thought.

I'm wondering if some of the different responses / perspectives on this (and many other topics discussed on your blog) might be connected to the thoughts in this article:

God views and issues

Our view of God shapes our views on so many things. I'd like to see you do a blog post based on that article (as if you don't already have enough ideas on your own). :)


Anonymous said...

I don't agree with Spurgeon on that one. Being in a relationship with Christ and in fellowship with Him doesn't mean to me that we automatically know His mind or are always obedient.

I think of it as the relationship we have with our parents. Just because we have a close relationship with them doesn't mean that we automatically are in synch with their will and their plan for us. We have to communicate with them, continue to fellowship and talk to them about the plan and we need to listen. Spurgeon's statement as you convey seems to diminish the reality of that active interchange.

To say that we can do whatever we want and know it's in His will because we have a relationship with Him just doesn't convey my personal experiences in my walk with God. I've often been OUT of God's will even though I have a relationship with Him.

But hey, maybe yours and Spurgeon's experiences as you walk with God are different than mine and that's okay by me.

Anonymous said...

Lamentations 3:40 "Let us search our ways, and seek, and return to the Lord."

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