Summary: How do we know God’s will in the big choices in life? How can we discern which direction to go? We can walk by faith into the future because of confidence in the caring nature of our God.
DISCERNING GOD’S WILL
When I was in Canada as a new Christian I had a huge choice to make. I had three options in front of me to choose from. All of these choices were good and moral. It was not a choice between right or wrong but rather an inconclusive choice. I had to pick from these three options and whatever choice I made would change the rest of my life. I had the option of staying home in Nova Scotia and finishing my course in Heat, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration. Also, I could go to Sunset School of Preaching to the AIM program. This is where you have six months of classroom study in American and then you travel to a foreign country to do missions. The last option that I had was to attend Brown Trail School of Preacher for two years. The decision had to be made and ultimately I choose to attend Brown Trail. But was God in this choice? Did he care about which option I picked?
Have you ever wondered if God cares about the decisions that you make in life? Is God in the details of our existence? Do we truly believe that God has a plan for our time on earth or do we rule out God’s place in our lives? Are we on our own as we choose and life through this work? Is it up to every individual Christian to life without any input from the Lord? If the Lord is in the details of life, than how are we to discern His will for our lives?
As we take the journey of life with God, there are major choices that we must make. We have to take paths that will lead us down roads that once we are on them there comes a point of no return. Some chooses forever change us and shape us into the people that we are. For example, the person you marry is a life shaping event. Can we discern the Lord’s will for our partners in life? How about the place that we work? Let’s say that you have given another job offer that looks very attractive, you have to pick to stay in your present job or accept the new job proposal. Having children is an important decision in a family’s life. Or you have to choose whether you will have another child or not. Even the place that you go to college will affect your future. So how can we if God does influence our large choices in life discern his will?
I remember when I was a young Christian asking Brian Garnett this same question. How do we know God’s will in the important events in life? We were sitting someplace in the United States, I believe someplace close to St. Louis. He told me that he believed that God was involved in our choices in life but he was not sure how. Maybe this question cannot be answered. But I believe that the scripture can address this dilemma.
Now I do not believe that God is in every choice. The majority of choices that we make are inconsequential. They overall do not have any bearing on our future or development. God is not concerned about whether we choose Coke instead of Pepsi or if we eat steak instead of chicken tonight. God is not telling us what to do in every situation. Unlike some people who believe that God is whispering into their ear every moment about whether or not they should have milk or cokes, I do not believe that the Lord operates in this fashion. You do not see the Lord doing so with the prophets or Abraham or even David and I believe we would be hard pressed to build a strong case for the Lord working in this manner today.
Now I also do not believe that God is whispering in my ear what he wants for me. Some people in the religious world think that the Lord is telling them clearly what he wants from them. That the Lord speaks clearly and precisely about what they are to do. People think that the Holy Spirit is guiding them into the Lord’s will with a few words. As far as I know I have never hear the Holy Spirit tell me anything besides what I read in the Bible which the first century writers wrote through the power of the Holy Spirit. Discerning God’s will is more difficult than just waiting for a whisper.
The people who believe that the Lord operates in this mode in today’s world take their proof from John 14-16. In this section Jesus is promising to send the Apostle the comforter or Advocate. This is another term for the Holy Spirit. It is literally in the Greek as paraclete. Now I believe that we receive some of the blessings of the paraclete but not all of them. We can be comforted by the Holy Spirit but we are not given the blessing of believing lead into all truth. This is the promise to the Apostles to help them evangelize the world. John 16:13 states “"But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.”