Hi Jim,,,Have just really started reading on your site and am enjoying it, but it is causing me some confusion! My particular question is about finding the will of God. After reading your comments about this, I have to admit, most of what I have done my entire Christian life may have to go out the window. Our daughter is trying to find out God's will concerning a new Christian man she is seeing. He has dirt in his past (as all of us do), which I'm not at all concerned with---he is a new creation in Christ. I have encouraged both of them to pray about where this relationship should go, and of course their question is "How will I know the right answer?" I'm stumped for an answer for them, especially after reading your views. Any help for us here? Thanks so much for this site,,,it is an eye opener. Sue
Believe me, I understand your confusion about "finding God's will". Did you find my whole Shoveletter series on the topic ... or just a few random thoughts here and there? Let me know if you didn't find the series.
When I was in Bible college many long years ago I got exposed to the concept of seeking His will for my life. Honestly, before that time I think I was a total illiterate, even though I had been raised in a "Christian" church. I never thought God wanted anything to do with my life other than with those pre-arranged parcels ... you know, like Sunday mornings, Christmas, Easter, etc. Oh sure, I crossed those barriers a few times here and there regarding certain important events in my life, but to even CONSIDER that I was supposed to find out what GOD wanted me to do was almost non-existent.
Anyhow, after I took that step at a Christmas retreat to "go forward and dedicate my life to Christ" I was impacted by a whole new experience ... and most of it found its way into a frantic pattern of religious duty. It was on the trip home from North Carolina to south Florida that I pretty much decided I would go to the Florida Bible College (the sponsor of the camp), which was just an hour south of my home. It was a "witnessing" college, that was its stated purpose. I came to view everything through the perspective that everything in my life was to be designed for its maximum witnessing potential ... so that I would be able to "reach more souls" with the "clear gospel" of "how to go to heaven". Everything else became subservient to this cause. So, I knew God's will for my life would somehow prosper this ability.
As far as God's choice for a spouse was concerned I had adopted the idea that a wife would become a ministry-partner, so therefore it would be very important to find the right one. Oh, so many variables ... and so many formulas!! Do you realize that according to the contemporary views that we really don't stand too much of a chance of marrying that one person chosen for us by God? Yeah, yeah, think it over.
If God has picked out someone for me and I have to discover His will so that I will marry this right person then my chances are less likely than winning the lottery! How so? You see, by common admission among those who teach this stuff, very few Christians truly seek God's will which means that each one who doesn't is ruining the chances of the few who do. Are you following me here? First, it is necessary that BOTH parties MUST be 100% seeking God's answer on HIS choice of a marriage partner. If only one of them is doing this then only one of them is in the commonly-accepted center of God's will - otherwise known as the perfect will of God. And in this case - which represents a very slim number of believers (according to the popular teachings) - only THAT one will "know" the right choice, while the other one is, at best, only in the "permissive" will of God. That basically means that God is letting us get away with less than 100% conformity to His will, and this effects how we understand His "answer". A person who is seeking God's will, but not 100% so, simply cannot "know" for sure what God wants him/her to do.
Do you see how complicated this gets real fast? Since, according to Christian preaching that most Christians achieve less than the 100% level then most are not reading God's answer correctly. The chances are better that you have misread the signs than to have understood them, which means that you are only getting God's "permissive" will regarding that spouse. Now the person who is in the "center of God's will" is going to come into conflict with the person God picked out she the one chosen by God is only getting a "second-best" choice!! Heck, chances are that your "perfect" partner has ALREADY been claimed by someone else who is also not seeking God's "perfect" will ... which creates a total domino effect where everybody is taking the other's perfect choice because their perfect choice is already taken ... assuming that ANYBODY is really following God's will 100%.
Let the confusion of this whole thing become a COMFORT to you!!! How? Realize that the confusion, even though widely held, is all part of the bondage of fleshly thoughts. Once you eliminate everything else you will only be left with Christ ... and the true FREEDOM he has established. :)
Our "Christian" assumptions in this whole mess are built upon the lie that the real you is still in conflict with the real God. The fact is that God has been satisfied with Christ's work on the cross and is not dealing with us according to our sins (the heavily-preached less-than-100% conformity), but has instead been working all things according to His own good pleasure. Thanks be to Him for that, huh? But you know, our fears latch on to the probability that we would only use such "assurance" as an excuse to follow our own wills. The question is: WHO do we think we really are? If I'm the old thing I used to be - just "forgiven" - then they're probably right. But if we are actually new creatures in Christ then His motivations will not be at all conformed to the same kind of stuff upon which such things as "following one's horoscope"!! That's all I can see in these bogus "Christian" teachings anymore.
If the Spirit of Christ has made us alive and totally free, then maybe we should be asking OURSELVES what it is we REALLY want!! Many of our "lousy" choices are probably made as a result of our perceived beliefs that whatever it is that WE want must be contrary to God's will, so that we are left trying to make choices based upon reactions about what we think God wants us to do. It's just like when we were kids and we were choosing to do things according to what we thought our parents wanted for us. Such choices are affected with how we thought the relationship was going. Heck, how many kids are doing things for years and years simply because they thought it was what their parents wanted, and all they get from their parents is dissatisfaction, and it is later discovered that the parents "will" had nothing to do with what the child chose?
Ask yourself what it is that you REALLY want - you may be surprised to discover that you REALLY know. We have been freed by Christ, it is time we live as those who are free. :)
Please don't be afraid to ask anything about what I've written.
Hi Jim, Thank you for your answer. I appreciate your time. After I sent you the email last night, I prayed for direction with regards to our daughter. I remembered just reading recently that seeking God's will is not for us to do, but rather, allow Him to REVEAL His will when He is ready. That takes a lot of pressure off of me!!! I do believe that God does have a will for us,,,,but it is up to Him to tell US, not the other way around. Am I on the wrong track here? What advice to I give our daughter? Is God interested in who she marries? I'm hopelessly lost now,,,,,thought I knew! :) thank you, sue
Sorry for the delay, been a little busy ... like usual. :)
True freedom is a scary thing, huh? Do you realize that God's will has ALREADY been revealed to us? Yep. The fact is that CHRIST is God's will to us - for Christ has revealed the Father to us. Oh yeah, I know this sounds even more ethereal than the usual hocus-pocus viewpoint of God's will. :) Did you realize that you CANNOT get out of God's will? Oh yeah, you are already in the center of it, because you are in the center of HIM - because of Christ. You see, God's "will" is NOT a plan He wants us to follow ... it is the reality of having His LIFE put within us so that our hearts are after His heart.
If I am looking for God's written commands so that I can do what He expects of me - I might call it legalism, for I would be living as if I was under the law. Of course, I'm not. On the other hand, if I'm looking for God to reveal His "plan" for my life so that I can do what He expects of me ... is that any different?
Now, does the fact that we are not under law mean that God doesn't care what we do? Of course not, for He has taken us beyond the ILLUSIONS of keeping His expectations and has put His very own life within us ... so that we walk in newness of life and not according to the deadness of following commands. The very idea that God is not interested in how we live is so totally bogus, for it is only the perspective of that old way of thinking that causes us to consider it at all. His righteousness is our LIFE, not because of our performance, but because of HIS ... within us. And we trip over it time and time again because we overlook the obviousness that true life is working because it "fails" the flesh's expectations of it. But that will never change.
So, could the lack of that "plan", that "blueprint", for our lives possibly mean that God doesn't care what we do? The fleshly thinking tells us so ... but since when does fleshly thinking produce any truth? God is interested in EVERYTHING we do and say and think ... but NOT in the way we learned it growing up ... and definitely NOT in the way we learned it from our religious teachings. His concern is only with real life ... not with the ILLUSIONS of life.
What advice do you give your daughter? Learn to trust the life that is working in you, because that life is none other than the Spirit of God!!
This may be a poor illustration but it just popped into my head. If you have seen the original Star Trek movie series then you should remember this scene from #4 - the one where the crew time-travels back to our time to "save the whale". Did you ever see it? Anyhow, after they get the whale on the Enterprise they now have to return to the future (their "present" time) so they can save the world from destruction. Because of some damage to the ship and also because of the added weight of whale and water it became totally impossible to meet the requirements for the time-jump back home. This is what Spock (the one in charge of maneuvering the jump) informs Captain Kirk as the ship is close to breaking apart. Kirk tells him, "Then GUESS". Spock is appalled!! He simply doesn't understand, and thinks that Kirk is not at all concerned about the many possible miscalculations. The truth is that the captain couldn't have been more concerned about it if he had tried. "Bones" leans over and says something to the effect, "I think that means he trusts your 'guess' more than he trusts anybody else's 'facts' ". Spock, finding confidence in his captain's confidence says, "Then I will make the best 'guess' I can." Of course it worked ... it was in the script. :)
Ah ... but we are in our Father's script, we cannot go wrong - for He works all things together for our good!! He works ALL THINGS together for our good!!!! He is the Captain who says to us, "I trust your 'guesses' better than the 'facts' of those who claim to KNOW." The truth is that we have been bamboozled by the legalistic mindset that tells us that in order to be "faithful" or "pleasing" to God - or that in order to be able to "walk in faith" - that we MUST find out what He wants us to do so we can do it.
But what if He has REALLY put His Spirit into our hearts? What if He REALLY made us alive unto Him? What if He REALLY wants us to stand in the FREEDOM Christ saved us to? What if He REALLY wants you to count upon this reality of the life of Christ within you no matter how much it appears you are "not seeking His 'will' " - especially according to that same logic of religious thinking that preaches law every Sunday? Didn't you ever wonder how those who tell believers to live by law could somehow get this part of life right? Methinks they're just as screwed up on this part as with the rest!! :)
Jim, Well, you just "blew" years of teaching and studying!!! :) But I honestly think I sorta understand what you are saying---I'm not very logical at all (something that has totally gotten me into trouble thru the years with the system), but I do have some logic and it does goes against what I've taught for quite a while.
I went back to one of the study's I taught last Fall, and was appalled at what then I was SO sure of!!! It made me sick. Well, I'm teaching again now for 13 weeks, and I'm more careful what and how I say things. Some things I just won't say at all anymore, because of the Truth I am learning now.
Your illustration about the Star Trek movie is what nailed it in for me. I absolutely remember that scene and the look of horror on Spock's face! LOL I have prayed for God to let us know what He has for her and this guy (who is actually the kind of guy I hope ALL of my girls have the privilege of loving) and things are moving in a direction now that I believe is pleasing to God. As I said before, he has a past, but I truly believe that God has taught me that the past is just that,,,the past. This guy told me he didn't feel worthy of our daughter and my reply was that his worthiness comes from the Blood of Christ and nothing else. If he was good enough for Christ to trust him with our daughter, then he was good enough for us. Am I getting there??? :):):)
Jim, thanks for you answer. It really was one of the few writings of yours I understood! :) I keep reading the posts, and the other things on the site. I especially enjoyed the part on the books of the Bible "updated". This is a new train of thought for me,,,,but not that far from where I've been inside for about 20 years. I've been bucking the system for years, and now I don't feel alone! Thanks again, sue