A few years, a friend of mine was trying to discover God’s will for her life in a particular area. She asked me to pray that God would give her wisdom and direction. As we talked, I casually asked her, “So, are there any things you are doing in particular to discover his will for you?”
She said, “I’m praying but also just waiting. It seems like God is not answering me at all.”
“How are things with you and God right now?” I asked.
“Okay, I guess. I mean, I haven’t really been reading my Bible or praying much until I realized I had to make this decision. I guess over the last couple of days I have gotten more serious about it all. I just don’t know why I can’t seem to get direction on this,” she replied.
I’ve stood in the same place as my friend did at times; perhaps you have too. We neglect staying close to Christ, grow cold in our affection and become lax in our walk. Then, when we need direction and wisdom, we cry out in desperation but scratch our heads when neither seem to come as easily or quickly as we think they should. We treat God more like a Magic 8-Ball or a candy dispenser than a real being with a real personality.
The truth that has helped me the most in those seasons is this: God reveals his will through relationship. In John 5, Jesus points his disciples toward this very truth. “So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel'” (19-20). Jesus knew and followed the will of his Father because of the love relationship they shared. By abiding in his Father’s presence – staying close in worship, prayer and obedience – Jesus understood the Father’s plan and heart. Then, out of love, he followed.
God reveals his will through relationship, not as a reward for walking closely with him, but as a result. Abiding in God does not make us more righteous in his sight, but abiding in him is the means to know his heart. We must delight in the things that delight God himself. Too often we want to be handed a map for the future rather than learning to follow him faithfully.
In Isaiah 30:21, God gives his people a future glance of what they could expect when they reset their hope and trust upon him: “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.” This direction and leadership from God came after they renewed their trust in him as they waited in faith.
If we seek the will of God, we must seek the heart of God first.
We would seek to abide in God’s presence at all times. – 1 Chronicles 16:11 Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!
We would place God’s purposes and plans before our own. – Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
We will always be ready to surrender to God’s plan, no matter the cost. – Matthew 26:39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
We would experience true renewal of mind so that we might know and follow God and his will. – Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.