Knowing God’s will is something that we as Christians sincerely desire to understand and will be one that we’ll grapple with till Jesus comes. I’ve read books on the subject, listened to various podcasts and sermons on the subject and even participated in deep moving discussions about it. Yet when it comes to the practical part of discerning God’s will in my life, coupled with the emotions that life comes with, it can get overwhelming.
I was recently in an interim period of my life where I felt like a fish out of water. After graduating from University I went straight to mission school, after mission school I took a little break and then went straight into ministry for a year and a half; so for the past two years I have been pretty much sustained by God without having to work.
During the past two years of my life, God has also been taking me on this intricate journey in order to reveal to me His will for my life. God has a beautiful way of leading us: He puts us in various situations in life that slowly but surely prepare us to be in a better position to accept His will for our lives. If God revealed to me when I finished university what He has recently been revealing to me about my life work and His will for me, I would have easily brushed it aside.
At this point in time though, I can confidently say that I know where God wants me to be but... I don’t know how He will get me there. However, during the interim period of my life (the past 2-3 months) I was constantly in a scuffle with doubt and questioning God regarding His will for my life – even though He had already revealed it to me.
The reality is, when things get difficult, when life goes from smooth motorway tarmac to gravelly off road, when the plans you thought God had for you take a different, unexpected turn, when life seems to be not quite what you had in mind, it is easy to doubt the way God has been leading you and is leading. This was my predicament.
After wrestling with God and getting some counsel about the interim period of my life, I was hit with the reality that being at the centre of God’s will may not always be a smooth journey and can/ will have many uncomfortable and restless experiences. Maybe I am the only person, but I naturally assumed that being at the heart of God’s will was a peaceful, stress free zone – but that isn’t the reality.
If you have the time read the petite book of Jonah, it is a four chapter narrative of a rebellious man who was very much content to be outside of God’s will, but he eventually turned himself around and did what God called him to do.
After receiving the command from God to “go” to Nineveh, the wicked city of the Assyrians, to warn them of the impending doom that would befall them (Jonah 3:4) – Jonah decided that God’s will for him was… not quite his ‘cup of tea’. So he purposefully ran away from God’s presence! His destination: Tarshish, modern day Sevilla which was two-thousand miles away from Joppa; three times as far as Nineveh, the city he was sent to.
But whenever we try to run away from God’s will for our lives, He will not let us go so easily: He will send various storms into our lives to try and wake us up to the fact that only in His presence is fullness of Joy, only in obeying His will is there true happiness.
So, God sent out a boisterous storm to rock the ship that Jonah was on, the storm was so potent that the ship was on its final strand – on the verge of sinking (Jonah 1:4). The crew scattered like rats, attempting to save themselves and the ship, it was a heart in mouth moment for all. Yet amidst the danger, amidst the possibility of life being lost, while all other sane humans were attempting to rescue themselves from death – Jonah was peacefully snoozing in the basement of the ship (Jonah 1:5).
Picture the scene!
Completely out of God’s will for his life, thousands of miles away from where God would have him to be, yet he was peacefully sleeping as if all was well.
It takes some level of something to be peacefully sleeping in the midst of a life threatening storm! It takes some level of stubbornness and rebellion to be knowingly outside of God’s will and still be at... ‘peace’.
Just because you have relative peace, just because you seem to be ‘calm' and ‘composed' in the walk of life doesn’t mean you are at the centre of God’s will for your life.
Oftentimes in life God sends circumstances, clear red flags, clear warning signals to alert us that we are not where we should be, that we are far from His will. Yet like Jonah, we can easily shut them out as if they do not exist, we somehow peacefully sleep in disobedience and pretend as if He hasn’t spoken and isn’t speaking.
Are you ignoring any red flags, any clear instructions in your life that God has clearly revealed to you?
Have you, like Jonah, shut your ears so firmly that despite being outside of God’s will you feel content, you feel at... ‘peace’?
1. Just because you have relative ‘peace’, just because you seem to be ‘calm’ and ‘composed’ in the walk of life doesn’t mean you are at the centre of God’s will for your life. Jonah clearly testifies of that.
But now let’s flip the narrative and turn to Jesus. If you have the time read the graphic, moving and heart-wrenching closing scenes of Jesus’ life in Matthew chapters 26-27.
In the dark gloomy night of Gethsemane Jesus suffered mental, physical, emotional and spiritual anguish. Try and put yourself in His sandals: the cross was approaching and He shuddered at the thought of being separated from the Father for the first time, like morning fog darkness was shrouding Him and preventing Him from seeing past the tomb. Fear, the uninvited guest, was also knocking on the door of His heart hoping to be let in. At that delicate, pivotal time of His life Jesus desired His three close companions to simply pray for Him as He prayed to the Father for strength to endure the closing scenes (Matthew 26:36-38) but their eyes were intoxicated with sleep.
Jesus felt the pressure: imagine the guilt you experience when carrying your own sin and the huge chasm felt between you and God. Envision carrying the sins of the whole world – past, present and future!
So weighed down by the responsibility, He sweated great drops of blood as He agonisingly pleaded “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me….” So emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually afflicted, experiencing at this time anything from peace yet... – Jesus was at the centre of the Father's will for His life!
If carrying the sins of the whole world past, present and future was not enough Jesus was: snaked by Judas, disowned by His disciples, facially molested by soldier’s saliva, walloped by the hands He crafted, denuded, crowned with thorns, mocked, licked with lashes and finally – crucified.
Despite what looked like, from a human standpoint, a person’s life crumbling to pieces – Jesus was at the centre of God’s will for His life.
2. Just because your world is disintegrating all around you, just because you may be mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually challenged – does not mean you are not at the centre of God’s will for your life. Jesus’ life testifies of that. He was made perfect through suffering (Hebrews 2:10).
The past few months have been the toughest for me on all levels, I have been challenged like I have never been challenged before. I have had to deal with doubts that I have never dealt with before, yet what I have learnt is that despite what is occurring in my life, despite the ups and downs God is there with me every step of the way. And as long as I continuously set my heart to follow and do His will, He will assuredly lead me to where I need to be.
I don’t know if you know God’s will for your life, if not it’s okay God will reveal it to you through various means and at the right time.
But maybe you are like me and easily look at the circumstances around you and what is happening in your life as a testimony to the fact that you are not where you should be. But as seen in the life of Jonah and Jesus, being at peace is not an indicator of being in God’s perfect will, nor are trying circumstances an indicator that you're not at the centre of His will. Whatever season you may be in, trust God and remember “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28. Continue to seek Him despite the circumstances, let Him know how you genuinely feel.
Hunger and thirst for His approval in all areas of life, don’t be content to be anywhere without His presence: in all your ways acknowledge Him and He promises He will faithfully direct your path.