In 1982, Gary Friesen published his classic work, Decision Making & the Will of God, immediately igniting a firestorm of controversy. Specifically, Friesen attacked the idea that we might accidentally miss God’s will, seeming to imply that God does not have a specific plan for each person. “Is there one person you were supposed to marry,” many people asked, “or are there many acceptable options, with God leaving the details up to you?”
The truth is that Friesen overstated his case, but he was seeking to address several common misconceptions regarding the will of God. For the next two weeks we’ll consider six biblical foundations concerning God’s will, leaving us in a better position to evaluate the nature of God’s will.
Foundation #1—Some things are God’s will for everybody, everywhere. Start with what you know and work out from there.
Here’s a conversation that happens way too often:
“I think it’s God’s will for me to marry him.”
“Ok, does he have a church he attends?”
“Does he read the Bible.”
“Maybe. Sometimes. I think. Ok, I don’t know.”
“Hmm. Tell me how you know he’s a believer.”
“I’m not completely sure of that. But I know He loves me and I love him. I know I can help him if we’re married. And I’m totally sure that it’s God’s will for me to marry him.”
Here’s the problem. God has already given His view on this decision. Believers shouldn’t marry unbelievers—period. And that means it isn’t God’s will—ever. It can’t be.
There are lots of parallel examples. It’s always God’s will for you to stay faithful to your spouse. It’s God’s will to discipline your kids. It’s God’s will to faithfully attend a local church. It’s God’s will for you to pour your life into reaching people with the gospel. I don’t need to know anything about you or your situation to know these things are God’s will. Start with what you know and work out from there.
Foundation #2—God isn’t hiding His will. He wants you to follow Him and He will lead you.
One reason that Gary Friesen attacked the more traditional view of God’s will was people’s confusion. “How do you find God’s will? How do I figure out what He wants me to do?” The truth, of course, is that God isn’t hiding His intentions and He doesn’t have trouble communicating them either. The burden to “find” what God wants us to do isn’t a responsibility we should be claiming for ourselves.
Rather, there’s hope and confidence in knowing that God wants your best. People that are truly submitted to His leading shouldn’t be worried about missing God’s will. The real concern is to insure that you are walking with Him, obedient to His Word and submitted to His commands. The other details will naturally become clear when you’re obediently following Him.
Foundation #3—When you aren’t sure, serve God wherever you can!
Here’s one guarantee—if you do nothing, nothing will happen. Sometimes the fear of making a wrong decision keeps us from making any decision at all. To borrow from a helpful resource on the subject, step out and “just do something.” God can close doors to keep you from a wrong decision. Even more likely, He can redirect your path as you seek to serve Him. Doing nothing will lead you nowhere.
There is no lack of needs; there is no lack of opportunities for service. If you’re facing a challenging decision today, ask yourself how you can best expend your life for the glory of God and the spread of the gospel. Then step out in faith. God’s purposes for you are far better than anything you can devise for yourself, and He will direct your path.