My son-in-law and I were having lunch several years ago about God’s will for his life. He had attended four years of Bible college and had planned on serving in local church ministry, but there was a restlessness in his heart about exactly what he should do.
I could sense the struggle he had and I said, “Son, if there was anything in the world you could do, what would it be?” He said, “I would be a fire fighter”. I said, “Then why don’t you do that?”
He was surprised at my quickness to respond to what he said, but I meant it. I had watched him for several years and spent a lot of time with him. He had demonstrated spiritual maturity and had a heart to know Christ.
This began a process of him asking four questions that are key to making wise choices. In recent posts I have written about each one. Before he could consider the last question he had to thoroughly deal with the others.
- What does the Bible say about the issue?
- What do my advisers say about the opportunity or decision?
- What do my authorities say about it?
- What opportunities are open in my life?
- What do I want to do?
Is it really safe to follow your desires? I believe it can be.
Some believers struggle with that idea. It all depends upon your answers to the previous four questions. The issue is whether your desires are selfish or centered around God’s Word and His kingdom. Those early questions help to surface those motives.
I believe that you’ll never find God’s will until you lose your own. Surrendering to God’s way is the first step to knowing what He wants even if in the moment you’re unsure of what you should do.
We are instructed to “…present (our) bodies a living sacrifice…that (we) may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2)
Jesus said, “If any man will do his will (speaking of His Father), he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God…” (John 7:17) The willingness to obey precedes knowing God’s plan.
God will never show you His will to consider. You must abandon yourself to do whatever He has for you. But what do you do after you have surrendered the issue to God? As you wait (and answer the four questions above) your desires will become aligned with God’s desires. Then, you can trust your personal desires.
“Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” (Psalm 37:4) My responsibility is to delight in the Lord; God’s responsibility is to give me desires. The result of doing my part is that my desires are aligned with His desires.
Here’s another verse that emphasizes God putting desires in your heart – “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)
The Spirit of God gives us both the desire (“to will”) and ability (“to do”). This is good news! Imagine the frustration of having a desire to do something, but not having the ability. Or the frustration of having the ability, but not the desire to do what God has told you to do. God gives us both the desire and ability!
This is exactly how I knew I should preach; God gave me a desire to do so. Part of knowing one is called to ministry is a personal desire – “If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.” (I Timothy 3:1)
I had a deep conviction that this is what I should do and even though I’m an introvert by nature I wanted to do it. Sometimes at ordination councils someone will make this statement to the man considering occupational ministry – “Is there anything else you want to do? Because if there is, you ought to do that!”
When I was a youth pastor I would often quote to our students, “God always gives His best to those that leave the choice to Him”. I believe that with all of my heart. The best things that have happened to me were when I yielded to God’s will.
On February 18, 1968 I chose to trust Christ as my Savior and the result was a new life with a purpose and an eternal home in Heaven when I die.
On July 28, 1975 I yielded my life fully to the Lord at a youth camp in Banner Elk, North Carolina. The result was joy, direction, and effectiveness in my service for Christ.
In the early 1990’s our church and school was experiencing heavy financial pressure. At times I wanted to leave and go to another place, but God wouldn’t let me. I chose to listen to Him and stay. The result was deep friendships, growth in character, and respect from others.
These are just a few samples of how listening to God and following the desires He gave to me were beneficial. Most of all, I was able to honor Him and show the world that following Him provides a superior way of living.
Today my son-in-law is a fire fighter in Houston, Texas and in the heart of God’s will as much as if he were a pastor or a missionary. He leads his family spiritually and I’m proud of him.IIf you’re facing a decision take the time to answer the questions I‘ve listed above . (Previous posts expound on them in a deeper way). God will delight in giving you His clear direction. Remember, the decisions you make will also influence your family – for good or bad.