Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Finding God's Will

I heard a story about two monks walking through a village when they saw a woman in a beautiful dress crossing a muddy street. The first monk quickly picked her up, carried her across the mud and set her down on the other side. The two monks continued walking onward without her. Five hours later the second monk finally asked, “Why back there did you pick up that woman when we are not supposed to do things like that?” The first monk responded, “I put her down five hours ago. Why are you still carrying her in your head?” This is a story that is similar to what happens when Christians regret. Too often Christians look behind them and question what might have been had they done something or decided something differently. Did they or did they not do the will of God? But, this question is not coming from God. This question is coming from His enemy.

When Christians regret, we remain stuck in the past and slow our forward progress with the weight of the past’s baggage. Like Lot’s wife, we are attempting to move forward with our eyes turned backward. It is like driving a car with a fixation only on the rear view mirrors instead of the front windshield. Jesus said to one of His would-be followers in Luke 9:62, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” And, Paul said in Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” You will not find a verse that commands the believer to look back and regret genuine decisions in their past. So are there genuine decisions in your past that you actively regret today? There is no decision in your past that God did not preside over and that God will not use for His ultimate glory. In fact, all of your past decisions have led you into the person that you are today, and that God ultimately wills for you to be tomorrow. And, God, your Father, is well-pleased with who you are, period.

Regret is like an anchor holding onto the rocks in our past. It holds us back from moving forward. The past is full of choices that God uses to mold our futures and the futures of others that surround us. There is no decision of yours that He cannot use to make something beautiful. Regarding sin, after repentance and forgiveness, God can use your redemption for His glory. For every opportunity you have missed, you have gained something better. And, for every opportunity you have gained, you have missed something worse. Was God sovereign during your past decisions or was He not? How big is your God? Do you truly believe that there was a well-intentioned decision that you made when God was not sovereign? God, our Father, redeems our past decisions, 100% of them.

One of our problems is that too many Christians burn so much of their efforts on the notion of finding the will of God as if they might miss it. The will of God is not something that God hides from His children in a place that takes years to discover. God never intended His children to live that way. If you have children and you want them to know your will for them, aren’t you going to just tell them? Better yet, if your children came to you earnestly seeking your will, wouldn’t you immediately share it with them with gladness? God is no different. And, God does not intend for us to spend time figuring out what we might have been or what we should do 20, 30, 40 years from now. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” This verse implies that we don’t really need to know every step of our path. What is most important is that we know the next step. And, that next step is rather easy to determine from God's word. In fact, Paul echoed Jesus well in Galatians 5:14, "For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'"

God is intentionally horrible at playing Hide-and-Seek. God wants to be found. Instead of searching for God’s will, be God’s will. Love those around you. Wash feet. Forgive radically. Obey our Good Shepherd, Jesus. Jesus said in John 13:34, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” So, in order to do God’s will, it is quite simple. Love God and then love everyone God puts in your path. Serve others as if it was Jesus Himself you were serving because you are (Matthew 25:31-46). If you sense Him urging you to do something, do it. The moment after you read this, you know exactly what God’s will is as soon as the next person crosses your path. God’s will is for you to love that person today. What more do you need to know right now?

I will close with a Christian testimony I recently heard from Scott Hamilton, the famous American ice skater, at www.iamsecond.com. He had a mysterious disease as a child that resulted in his thwarted height of 5’ 4”. And, it was his small stature that led him into ice skating, where he ended up in the International Hall of Fame and an Olympic Gold Medalist. As a married adult, he later learned that he had a brain tumor from birth that served as the mysterious cause of his stunted growth. Instead of looking back in regret, Hamilton thanks God for the tumor that he refers to as one of the best gifts he ever received. If he had not had that brain tumor, he probably would not have become the Scott Hamilton that we all know today. God turned a brain tumor towards His will in making Scott Hamilton an internationally recognized example of the shining glory of God.

Don’t look back. Be God’s will today. By being God’s will, you have found God’s will.