Recently I’ve been learning some things about following God’s will. Unfortunately, as sometimes happens, I’ve been learning about them through my own mistakes.
The crucial principle I’ve been learning is that there should never be a major decision that we make without consulting God’s guidance. There should never be any area of our life that is a “no-go” when it comes to God speaking to us.
Let me unpack that. In life, we have many decisions to make, some of them bigger than others.
As children of God, we are living for him. We want to make decisions that please him, and know that these will be the best for us.
But sometimes we are infected with self-will.
As creatures, we’re meant to live in dependence on God. We’re not meant to live as we please. His will, his desires, his design, should be what rules our hearts and actions.
But as we know, we don’t always live this way. Someone who has not surrendered their life to Jesus lives completely independently and self-directedly. But even as Christians, there can be areas of our lives where we live as if we were not under the Lordship of Jesus, as if there were some decisions that were ours to make without any reference to him.
We live in a culture that tells us that we are autonomous beings, free to shape our destinies as best suits us. We don’t answer to any higher authority when it comes to our bodies, our relationships, or any of our choices.
Sometimes because of past hurts, we try to resolve things in ways that don’t involve trusting God. We are so traumatized by our past that we allow it to shape our decisions without allowing the healing presence of God’s Spirit and God’s truth to enter.
But the bottom line of why we make decisions without consulting God, without taking time to be sure of his will through his word and prayer, is that we don’t trust God.
We don’t trust that what he has for us truly will result in the best outcome.
We think we know best, and act accordingly.
We think there won’t be consequences, or that God will magically remove them if there are.
We rush out of fear instead of taking time to think, pray, seek counsel, seek God’s word, and be sure of the decision. We react out of anxiety, instead of acting out of the security of knowing our God. We think if we don’t make a decision right away, disaster will follow, when in reality, disaster is much more likely to follow if we act apart from God.
How do we know if we’re in danger of acting this way? A simple way to check is to ask ourselves what we would do if we became convinced God was asking us to do the opposite of what we’re about to do. If we react against the very idea, saying that we are going to do it no matter what, that’s a danger sign.
If we have doubts or uncertainty about the step we’re about to take, the rule is not to do it. It doesn’t mean we can never have any anxiety about a major decision. But if we haven’t taken time to consult God and be as sure as we can that we’re acting in the right way, that’s a warning sign to stop and not proceed until we have.
As a child of God, there should never be any no-go areas of my life, where God is not permitted to speak to me. There should never be something I am so determined to do (or not to do) that I refuse to seek God’s will. There should never be anything about which I say, “This is what I’m going to do, whatever God thinks of it, and I hope he forgives me if I’m wrong.” There should never be anything over which I, not Jesus, is lord.
If something is not what God has for us, it will bring bad consequences, regardless of how we feel about it. If it is according to God’s will, it will bring good consequences. By acting according to God’s will, we avoid remorse, regret, repentance, and the awful feeling of having displeased God and lost fellowship with him. By seeking and obeying him, no matter what, we will have the joy of knowing his fellowship and pleasure.
What are the no-go areas of your life? What are the actions you have determined to take, despite your doubts (or certainty) that it is not something God would want? Back off. Step down. Submit this thing to God. Become willing to listen to him and to act according to what he tells you, even if it’s the opposite of what you want to do. You will not regret it. You will, however, open up a world of regret if you continue in an action that God hasn’t approved. It won’t bring the benefits you think. It will have negative consequences you haven’t even foreseen.
But most importantly, Scripture teaches us that we no longer belong to ourselves. We do not have the right to make decisions that please us, according to our own “wisdom” and desires. We instead have an obligation to please him who bought us with his precious blood, and brought us into his Kingdom. Contrary to the world’s “wisdom”, it’s not our body or our life to do with as we wish.
and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 2 Corinthians 5:15
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20