I have been in vocational ministry for over 20 years. Throughout those years which have spanned 4 churches in 4 cities and 3 states, there have been questions and situations that have been common no matter the locale. One of those concerns the will of God. Honestly, I cannot recall one person who didn’t follow God’s will when she or he was confident that it was God’s will. It has not been my experience that following His will is where the difficulty enters. The difficulty enters in being confident that something IS God’s will and desire. It has been my experience that a person’s level of confidence directly impacts a person’s ability to walk in His will.
This whole thing came back to my mind yesterday due to a short conversation I had with someone. This person is faced with the prospect of making a decision which is difficult and life-altering. This person told me that s/he was afraid of running ahead of God and s/he didn’t want to do that. I appreciated his/her heart and desire in this, but it did bring something to my mind something with which I believe a great many of Christ-followers struggle – namely, how God’s will works as it interacts and intersects with our humanity and God-given free will.
And honestly, I believe how this relationship is viewed directly impacts our confidence level.
I believe that God’s will (by which I mean the end result) cannot be thwarted, but I also believe that God allows His adopted sons and daughters to have an impact on the course taken to reach that end sometimes even giving us options, allowing us to choose the direction of the path. I say this because of occurrences like Moses and God interacting on Mt. Sinai about the episode with the golden calf and the interaction between King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah about what God had decreed (“Thus says the Lord”). From these, I believe that God allows for the use our own desires in shaping the direction of the path.
Therefore, it is so important that we examine the reason for our desires and see how they line up with His. What I believe is crucial to remember in this is that, as adopted sons and daughters, we have been given the nature of THE Son as our own. It is THE Son’s Spirit that resides in our hearts and because of this reality, we are new creations and have an intimate connection to the Father through the Son. That means we have access to realize and know the heart and desires of the perfect Father, the heavenly one.
So, what is the heart and what are the desires of the perfect Father? I believe it boils down to two things, both having to do with His kingdom and His glory. First, He desires to have His kingdom built in quantity. This means us going in directions that would see people truly encounter Jesus in and through us so that they are drawn to the kingdom through the love and grace of the Father. Second, He desires to have His kingdom be built in quality for His glory. This means our identity by which the Father knows us already becoming more our daily reality.
When our desires match up with His, I believe God allows us to have an impact on the choice of path that ends at His desired ending, even if at times we don’t understand how it all works together. And when these are our desires, there is a peace for we don’t need to fret or worry about the direction chosen.
Back in December of 1999, I was faced with a decision. At that time, I was a part-time youth pastor as well as a part-time supervisor at UPS. UPS approached me about becoming a full-time supervisor which would necessitate my leaving my youth pastor position. As we prayed about this, we felt a peace about choosing this path. This was a curve ball to me for I had long held that it was for vocational ministry that God intended me to devote my life. But, since we experienced a peace that we could only explain as being from God, we chose this path. I started this new adventure in January 2000, but my resignation from the church wasn’t effective until the end of July.
As I said, I viewed this as a curve ball, that is, until a period from beginning August 2002 and ending in April 2003. Through a series of life-events, which I will not go into, I came to realize that I had made money my god. The reason God gave the peace He did back in January 2000 was that He had to make this intimately real to me, which He did, culminating with my leaving UPS. My whole desire was to serve Him and have His desires be mine and God allowed me to choose the path to get to that end, which happened. And now I have been in full-time vocational ministry since November 2003.
I have met way too many Christians who suffer from “paralysis by analysis” in moving with confidence in a direction believed to match with God’s desire and will. They have been paralyzed by the enemy’s original question to Eve: “Did God really say…?”
So don’t fret and don’t be anxious because there is no need. Do your desires match up with the Father’s? If so, make the decision with confidence for the Father will direct the path to the ending found in His will. And when this is the case, there is no need to question the decision because of the level of confidence. And take my word for it, when you do it this way, eventually God will bring confirming and affirming things to you. That has been my experience many times over.
So, move with confidence and do not fear.