Forget About His Will

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How many times have you heard  someone say, “I just wish I knew God’s will for my life”?  I know I’ve longed for this before.  But now I see it as a misguided way of thinking and talking.

There are very few people in the Scriptures who received their life plan from God in advance (or even a five-year plan, for that matter!).  Consider Abraham, who was told to pack up his family and all his possessions and start walking.  He didn’t know where he was going.  He didn’t know if he would ever be back.  He didn’t know any of the details we consider vital (e.g., his destination, how long the venture would take, what the costs/rewards would be, whether he’d receive a 401(k) or health insurance).  God said to go and he went, and that’s pretty much all he knew.

I think a lot of us need to forget about God’s will for my life.  God cares more about our response to His Spirit’s leading today, in this moment, than about what we intend to do next year.  In fact, the decisions we make next year will be profoundly affected by the degree to which we submit to the Spirit right now, in today’s decisions.

It’s easy to use the phrase “God’s will for my life” as an excuse for inaction or even disobedience.  It’s much less demanding to think about God’s will for your future than it is to ask Him what He wants you to do in the next ten minutes.  It’s safer to commit to following Him someday instead of this day.

Nowhere in Scripture do I see a “balanced life with a little bit of God added in” as an ideal for us to emulate.  Yet when I look at our churches, this is exactly what I see:  a lot of people who have added Jesus to their lives.  People who have, in a sense, asked Him to join them on their life journey, to follow them wherever they feel they should go, rather than following Him as we are commanded.  The God of the universe is not something we can just add to our lives and keep on as we did before.  The Spirit who raised Christ from the dead is not someone we can just call on when we want a little extra power in our lives.  Jesus Christ did not die in order to follow us.  He died and rose again so that we could forget everything else and follow Him to the cross, to true Life.

~Francis Chan
Forgotten God — Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit

And to expose our hearts to truth and consistently
refuse or neglect to obey the impulses it arouses
is to stymie the motions of life within us and, if
persisted in, to grieve the Holy Spirit into silence.
~A.W. Tozer~ 

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13 responses »

  1. I was browsing randomly and you mentioning God caught my eye. What you’ve written is so very true! I look into the world we live, and it seems like God is like “salt” to our “food” (lives). But I have never seen anyone who took up their cross and completely followed the Holy Spirit by God’s will. You are right with “asked Him to join them on their life journey, to follow them wherever they feel they should go, rather than following Him as we are commanded”… I cannot deny that. I just think no one is willing to leave their homes and belongings to follow Christ and God’s will, even when God promises that He will provide… I love this post. 🙂

  2. Hi, Josh. (I found your name on your blog)

    It does seem that way…that we would rather live comfortably than radically for Him. If we really listen to His voice, He may tell us to do things out of our comfort zone.

    Oh. And. I didn’t write this. It’s Francis Chan’s writing. But, I’m really glad you enjoyed it. Keep blogging, Josh. Tell the world about Jesus. 🙂

  3. Christianity was built on the great gift of the Holy Spirit, Christians believe Jesus gave them when he ascended into heaven. It seems to me that for a Christian to ignore, or neglect, this gift in any way is a great insult to their God.

    The A.W. Tozer quote is very profound “to grieve the Holy Spirit into silence.”

    I also like his quote ““The devil is a better theologian than any of us and is a devil still.” If a Christian doesn’t learn to listen to their indwelling Holy Spirit, no amount of theologian knowledge will be of any use.

  4. Hey, Ed! Yes, it is tragic that we ignore Him. He dwells within all who believe and trust in Jesus as Lord; but I do believe, as Tozer said, He can be grieved into silence. Just as any friend, when ignored, will eventually stop talking.

    Theology, in it’s purest form, is getting to know God, to study Him. I believe that’s what we all have been called to do. In a personal relationship while studying His word is the best approach, imo. Now, Systematic Theology…ugh! Any ‘devil’ can learn that stuff. 😯

  5. Amen to all of the above (comments as well as quotes). The themes remind me so much of the book I just read (I also enjoyed Chan’s “Forgotten God” already =) by Larry Crabb, “66 Love Letters” summarizing each book of the Bible as a ‘love letter’ from God to us. It emphasizes how our ‘spirit of entitlement’ is so strong that we are often ‘deafened by it’ to the truths God wants to reveal (i.e. “grieving the Holy Spirit into silence” as Tozer said).

    Thanks for sharing this ‘wake up call’.
    D-

  6. Hey, Laz! I think I need to get that book by Crabb. I can see how we have put our self-interests before God’s truths.

    I am to blame, as well…hard to see…harder to correct.

    It’s that moment-by-moment communion we need so desperately.

  7. I read “Decision-Making and the Will of God” a few years ago, and it’s changed my perspective since then… The book had some similar points to Chan’s statements above.

  8. two of my favorite authors! this is a timely reminder for me. Reminding me that my days are the will of God, and listening to the Spirits direction is vital to which direction i will take…

    i have also heard lots say “waiting for the will of God to be revealed” which always confuses me due to how Abraham never knew, he just followed in faith. And in Micah, he is clear that HIS will is for us to walk humbly with HIM…it really doesn’t say that he will map it all out for us.

    awesome post

  9. Good thoughts. I’ve had a life-stretching experience the last year and a half in just living today. I couldn’t (and still can’t) see or imagine out my life any further past today. So I live each day doing the best I can in it. It has been revolutionary in some ways, just like the ideas in this post. I’m not much of a planner, so I can’t say that planning my life out has ever been much of an issue. But life becomes a little bit clearer when you’re hanging on by your fingernails …

  10. Wow, Michelle, this is straight “protein”! Did you happen to chat with your “Uncle Henry [Blackaby]” while putting this post together? 😉 You are sooo right: We’re all ready for God to give us “the whole shootin’ match” all at once, rather than just a piece (to change analogies) of the puzzle here, and another piece of the puzzle there… I feel sure that you’re familiar with “Experiencing God”, by Henry Blackaby. The concept of our *joining* God ~ wherever HE is at work ~ is a *huge* one (vs. our “getting” Him to join US — wherever *we* are, w/our own plans!). THANKS for sharing this! God’s timing, for sure!

  11. Hey, Mandy! I remember that book from college. It seems to be a classic now. If I plan too far out, I seem to get in a frenzy (probably an anxiety disorder). But as I live one day at a time, I feel His peace.

    Hi, Darla! I just finished Crazy Love and then started on this one. Chan’s a great author. I need to start reading Tozer. Every single word I’ve ever read of his has inspired me.

    Amen, to following as Abraham did: Without question or long term answers. I hope to live with such trust in Him.

    Hey, Sparkle! My life-stretching experience is pulling me soooooo far out of my comfort zone and understanding, I wonder where I’ll be when life moves back to a ‘normal’ place. As I was praying the other day, everything seemed so clear…now…not so much. I’m still hangin’ on to Him. His ways are so mysterious, yet good.

    Hi, Gracie! I honestly never read Blackaby’s book. Probably should do. I have been a planner my whole life. Couldn’t wait for school to start every year with all my supplies in order. Then, when I met Phat my plans were laid out in five year increments. Sigh. I guess God has finally decided I need a lesson in the unexpected…to learn to trust Him more. Does He ever let up?

    You ladies have been quite a support to me. I would ask now, as I embark on a 40 day fast (not food…health won’t allow that) to seek His face, please, if I come to mind, pray for me to hear from God. I need Him more. I know His love for me surpasses all others. I need to be wholly (holy) devoted to Him. I really would appreciate any prayer support y’all may choose to give. (Part of the fast includes less time on the computer…so I may not be around much)

    Thanks. Love you All!!

  12. I will for sure be thinking about you and praying! My husband is on a 40-day fast as well right now. Interesting timing …

    Helping lift you up, my sister. I love you.

  13. “God is more concerned with our character than our comfort.”

    You said this to me some time ago and it has resonated with me ever since. And truly God has stretched my character beyond what I could have imagined myself being able to go through and no it wasn’t comfortable but praise God He took me to a higher level of faith and glory in Him in the process.

    We do tend to look beyond the moment and fixate ourselves on what needs to be done or what’s going to happen, don’t we? Instead of just being and focusing on God in the moment and letting Him be in control of the future.

    I love you and am praying for you during your fast. May God reveal Himself to you in a new and refreshing way.

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