We are human. That means we are born sinners and, for those who believe in Christ, we are only saved by His grace, by His death on that cross. We are also complex, creative, diverse, intelligent, beautiful creatures, therefore we constantly struggle between what we want (our desire) and what God wants (God’s Will), often tricking ourselves, even subconsciously, into decisions that satisfy our desires.
I’ve recently been dealing with a very tough situation in my life where I’ve felt intense pain over a possible misunderstanding or something more serious (I’m really not sure to be honest) with someone I considered a friend. This particular situation, in my mind at least, is extremely sensitive as the two people involved (one being me) both have very sensitive souls, so knowing that and having learned from past experiences, I’ve purposefully handled it with extreme care, seeking to first protect the other person and second to protect myself.
In trying to understand this situation and handle it as a man of faith, I’ve struggled mightily with all variables involved: Their feelings; My feelings; Both of our perceptions; My vulnerability; Their personality; My personality; Their circumstance; Our life experiences; Our hearts; God’s Will; And so much more. I’ve felt God’s presence throughout the entire ordeal and even though I don’t have peace about the outcome at this point (which I may never have) and I feel sadness over it, I do have peace in that I’ve tried my absolute best to align my desire for this friendship with God’s Will, which may seek to expel the friendship permanently.
I believe that God has a Will for us beyond our sanctification and His Will doesn’t change, just like He doesn’t change. I’ve found that one of the most difficult things for us to do is to discern God’s Will, and not only that, but to differentiate God’s Will from our own desire, so that’s why I’m writing this article. I want to offer seven considerations for you to weigh that will help you ensure that when you pursue opportunities or make decisions, big or small, they are not only of your desire, but they are first and foremost of God’s Will.
Know God’s Word
The Bible is the very word of God and He speaks to us through His inspired word. Know that any opportunity you should pursue will never contradict God’s Word. It may not always be that black and white, it may be quite grey, but more often than not, you can eliminate some opportunities by way of His word. Similarly, God will not open a door that requires spiritual compromise or disobedience for you to enter. Humans are masters at taking clear rules and twisting them to fit our circumstance, for various reasons, but that’s not how God works. Also, remember God does not tempt us, therefore any compromise we make in judgement is temptation, not God’s Will.
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.
– James 1:13-14
Interestingly enough, God clearly tells us that continuous prayer is His Will for us. This is also translated as “prayer without ceasing”, which doesn’t mean pray every second of every day, rather it refers to an attitude of God-consciousness and God-surrender that we carry with us all the time. Every waking moment is to be lived in an awareness that God is with us and that He is actively involved and engaged in our thoughts and actions. A lack of prayer will cause us to depend more on ourselves than on God’s grace. In Phillipians 4:6, God tells us “in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” We are to depend on God and have him first in our lives.
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
My grandfather used to tell me, “No matter how tough you are, there is always someone that can whip you.” He was right! In the same style, no matter how Godly we are, there is always someone wiser and more Godly than we are. Often, these wise souls are older than us and through life experiences and spiritual growth over a longer period of time, they can see mistakes that we are simply blind to at that point in our lives. If, regarding a decision, you are aligned with God’s word, and you have prayed without ceasing, but you remain unsure which path to take, seek counsel from those who can see more clearly than you. You’ll receive the blessings that come about from an unemotional, wise perspective.
Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.
– Proverbs 15:22
It’s really amazing that we all have so many different experiences that form for us different perspectives in life. Not everything we go through in life is easy, in fact most of it is difficult. God uses these experiences to shape us and eventually so that we can seize opportunities. Regarding my personal example that I mentioned above, I was on the opposite side of a similar situation a year ago and I learned through that experience that people will attack you when they are hurt, so when my situation arose and I found myself hurt and on the opposite side of the fence, I chose empathy and grace over stubbornness and self-centeredness. I was only able to do this because of God’s grace and my life experiences and I truly believe that God allowed my previous situation to happen, so that I would be prepared for the next one.
Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?
– Job 12:12
Often we desire something, and perhaps that something is in God’s Will for us, but maybe just not when we want it to be. This often occurs when someone is job-seeking and they know a company wants them and they know they want the company, but the timing just isn’t right. Many times, this doesn’t mean it’s never going to happen, it just means that God is either still working on a part of you in order to prepare you more or He simply needs you to be patient, perhaps so that he can prepare someone else involved. If we focus on contentment and look to align our desire with God’s Will, then these situations where God tells us we must wait will be much more pleasant.
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
– Psalm 27:14
This article is about discerning God’s Will and separating it from our desire, so why is this even a consideration? I believe that many people think if God has a Will for us then it will never align with our desire. I remember many times in the past feeling guilty that I was so happy doing something that I fully believed to be God’s Will for me. Other times, I remember feeling the opposite way. This is where the power of God comes in however, because He has the ability to not only realign our existing desires to serve His Will, but He also possesses the power to give us new desires that immediately align with His Will.
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
– Psalm 37:4
Understand you are not in control and worrying and stressing over how things play out achieves nothing. Don’t confuse this with being sad, which is an emotion that is generally more deeply rooted. To some extent we will have worry and we will have stress and we will be sad, but God promises in Psalm to deliver us from our trouble. To me, it’s kind of like those times when you are on a road going somewhere and you think you’re on the right road, but you’re not, you’re actually a block or two off, however you arrive at the right intersection and realize all you have to do is take one left turn, go two blocks and you’re at your destination. Sometimes our desire is not that far off from God’s Will and we’re one left turn away from those two things aligning. It doesn’t always work that way, however and life can become a roller coaster with all the associated ups and downs. That’s okay too, once again we’re human and we will struggle, but if we keep telling ourselves to relax and to be thankful during the low times, then we can more quickly align our desire with God’s Will.
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
– Psalm 34:17-18