Usually when I’m trying to find something I’ve lost, I re-trace my steps. I think about where I had it last or where I used it last. I try to remember if I loaned it to someone. I pray about it – especially if it’s something important.
One day I decided to look one more time for a Social Security card. I prayed and asked God to help me find it if it was still in our house. This time, I felt impressed to look in a certain box again. I felt an urge to pull out all of the cards instead of flipping through them one by one. That is when I found the missing, prayed-for card. I was so surprised.
So surprised that I exclaimed out loud to my empty house, “I can’t believe this!”
Really? Why should I have been surprised? Had I not asked God to help me find it so I wouldn’t have to pay to replace it? Why should I be surprised that He said yes?!
I wonder if sometimes we’re like that when we’re trying to figure out His will in any part of our lives. I wonder if we really expect God to answer. Maybe we don’t really want His answer because we already know part of what it is. We feign a desire to know His will and act like we just can’t figure it out, when we already know.
There are several points to consider when we’re trying to learn what His plan is for us. When the will of God seems elusive, maybe it’s a good idea to retrace our steps and go back to where we started: with God and His Word.
God doesn’t ask something of us that is not in our ability to do, and He gives grace for what He requires of us. I could never be a surgeon; I don’t have the dexterity (or the brains) necessary. God gifts us for the things He expects us to do. At the same time, God sometimes asks us to do things that are out of our comfort zone. Our comfort zone and our abilities are not the same. We need to remember that. If we really want to be like Jesus, we need to be willing to manifest all the fruits of the Spirit – and not just the one with which we feel most comfortable. Sometimes saying “That’s not my thing” is really not biblical. We need to remember that God will or has equipped me with whatever it takes to fulfill His plan for me. [James 4:6] “But he gives more grace. Therefore he says, God resists the proud, but gives grace unto the humble.”
God never asks us to do something that is contrary to His word. If what we want to do is not plumb with His word, then it is obviously outside His will. Emotions, feelings, desires or wants have nothing to do with what God asks of us. Even common sense or pieces falling into place are not His plan for us if those pieces do not coinside with God’s word. If a job or other situation requires things that are contrary to God’s Word, we know it is not for us. We ought not to make excuses or think, this is different. It really isn’t different just because it’s us. Don’t ever use “This is different” for an excuse to not go God’s way. He is a God of order and not confusion. He doesn’t change. His Word is still the standard by which we measure. [Amos 7:8]
God has put people in authority over us as a guard and a guide for us. Those folks are often the ones who voice the most caution and concern, sometimes throwing a wet blanket on our plans. Those folks also have more life experience than we have; therefore, they can see dangers and pitfalls that we might never have considered. In addition, usually those in authority over us have known us for a long time; that’s important when we’re seeking direction. They know us in ways our newest friends don’t.
When our plans are in conflict with those in authority over us, we can know we should take a different route. If our plans align with God’s plan for us, He can change the hearts of those in authority over us, even if they are not children of God. If He is big enough to change the hearts of kings and authorities who do not believe in Him, [Prov 21:1 ] (The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes”), He’s big enough to change the hearts of anyone who stands in our way. Our ministers are responsible before God and “must give account for our souls.”[Hebrews 13:17] Likewise, scripture tells us to honor our parents regardless of their relationship with God. [Ephesians 6:2; Mark 7:10; Deut 5:16]. If we’ve never experienced the excitement of seeing God soften someone’s heart, is it perhaps because we’ve never given God the opportunity to allow Him to turn hearts?!
It’s true that in a multitude of counselors, there is safety. [Proverbs 11:14, 15:22] We should make sure that this “multitude” does not consist only of those in our age group, those who are our best friends, or those who would not encourage us to seek God first. Perhaps we should dare to hear the heart of our most skeptic friend or acquaintance instead of just heading to the friends who we know will most likely support us. From personal experience, I know how freeing it is to follow this plan. I remember the day (as a twenty-eight-year-old), I walked into my stepfather’s shop to ask him what he thought of the man I had started dating. After a failed relationship a few years earlier, I had committed myself to only dating a guy with the blessing of my family. How wonderful it was to get his approval as opposed to how it was with a guy I had dated previously.
Let God be the one to open or shut doors. This sounds simple, but it’s easier said than done. It can be fairly easy to manipulate things so they work out the way we want. That’s not waiting on God. That’s not allowing Him to show us what He wants. Personally, this has been one of the hardest things in life, to sit back and wait. For 120 years, Noah built a boat. At God’s command, he and his family obediently went into the Ark. God shut the door. The eight of them waited, and waited, and waited. They waited inside the Ark with all those animals for seven days before it even started to rain! If I had been the one planning it, I would have had the rain start as soon as the doors were shut. I would have wanted to get the show on the road!
When we allow God to open the doors, there’s such freedom in walking through them instead of forcing them open so we can walk through. Resist the temptation to manipulate. Don’t badger God. Wait until He opens the door. If the door never opens, then it’s time to stop knocking on that door and find the door that He has had open all along.
Be more concerned with being instead of with doing.
Let your heart become so in tune to God that you won’t even want to beg for something that God doesn’t want you to have or do. It’s true that scripture tells us that if we pray, He will give us the desires of our heart. [Psalm 37:4:”Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”] He will only give us the desires of our heart when they are in harmony with His desires for us.
While we are waiting for Him to open doors and change the hearts of those who do not give their support, we need to delight in Him. As we learn to know Jesus, we will learn to know His heart by delighting in Him. [Psalm 37:5] “Commit your way unto the LORD; Trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.”]
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. [II Timothy 2:15] That is part of being. While we are waiting for God to open doors or to reveal Himself to us, we should be focusing on being and becoming. We do that by feeding on His word. Climb up into His lap and ask Him to show you His heart. His Word not only changes others, it can change us, too.
As we learn who He wants us to be, finding His will won’t be so hard to do.
[This article was first published in Daughters of Promise magazine. For information bout this magazine, click https://www.daughters-of-promise.org/#our-storyhere.]