The subject of what it means to “walk in God’s will” or to live a life “blessed by Him” has been on my mind a lot in the last few weeks. I’ve had conversations at Bible studies, church groups, at home, and with friends. We’ve talked about what it means to live in God’s will and whether that means a specific thing, or place, or occupation. Spoiler: I don’t think it does. Except maybe sometimes.
There is so much that could be said about what God’s will for our lives means. I’m only going to address one thing and then my next post will cover the topic of “Blessings,” (specifically, when people attribute their wealth, or lack thereof, material stuff, good health, etc to being blessed by God). The one thing is this: God is more (like, really, waaaay more) concerned with who we are, rather than where or what we are. When the Bible uses the words, God’s will, it usually looks like this: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV84, italics mine.)
You guys, the Bible actually tells you what God’s will is. He tells us to live justly, to love God and others, to control what we say, and on and on. Yet somehow we have built this idea that what God wants for us is this huge mystery that we may never find out. We keep searching and trying to “find ourselves” and discover what we’re supposed to do. When really, I think God might be in heaven shaking his head (so loving; don’t forget that) saying, “I really just want YOU! Get to know me. Give me your heart.” The rest will follow.
When I was in the middle of my first year of college (at a very conservative, fundamentalist, Christian school before which I had no idea what I was getting into) I applied again to my first choice in Chicago (I didn’t get accepted the first time. Perseverance, ya’ll!), and received my acceptance letter in the winter months when the world is generally gray and awful. I was thrilled. However, so many of my friends chided me for going against what was surely God’s will. Why on earth would he want me to leave the best Christian school in America (Ha!) and go to Chicago where I would surely be raped and murdered or forced to read a poor translation of the Bible (seriously, they worried about this)?
My 19 year old self was really struggling with this decision. God had brought me here, way down south (so southern that sometimes I doubted whether we were still in the USA), why would he then want me to leave? But something happened that changed my thinking. One of my favorite professors, a man named Charlie Brown as a matter of fact, said something to me. Well, he actually said it to the whole class. I don’t remember the context, but I remember this phrase, “God wants you to do his work. He doesn’t care whether you live here or in Chicago, he just wants you to serve him!”
I sat up in my chair, not sure that I had just heard him correctly. Did he know me? Did he know my situation? He didn’t of course, but God used him to give me a better perspective. I had this desire, for years, to go to Chicago. So of course it was inside God’s will for me to go there, because God is more concerned about my heart.
He’s more concerned about your heart too. He wants you. If that means you go to Africa, great! If that means you stay home and raise godly children, awesome! Serve him where you are with what you have. Big or little. Read his words to us, the Bible, and let it change you. Get to know him and you will discover that your life will form, in small ways first, from a heart that is softened toward God. This is is will. This is his heart for those who want to follow him.
What do you think? Have you bought into the idea that “God’s will” is a mystery? I wanna know.