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Thursday, February 3, 2011

What is God's Will For My Life?

When I was in high school, my dad took a church job that would require us to move to Ohio.  A few weeks prior to our departure from Texas, our pastor asked me to preach at the Sunday evening service of our last week there.  I was grateful for the opportunity and accepted the invitation.  When he asked what I might want to preach about, without thinking, I blurted out, “Discovering God’s Will For Your Life.”

At that moment I didn’t fully appreciate the ambition of such a topic, nor did I have any idea what my text might be.  I figured that on a topic so essential to the Christian life, there must be a plethora of relevant passages in Scripture.  I was confident that given a few weeks I could zero in on one of them and prepare a message.

But the perfect passage on discovering the will of God for an individual’s life proved to be elusive.  I searched and searched for a text, eventually willing to settle for even an obscure one, but I could find nothing.  As that Sunday approached, anticipation gave way to pure terror as I realized I may have committed myself to a topic that couldn’t be preached – at least not from Scripture.  But with two days left to prepare, Providence intervened when I was admitted to the cardiac ICU.  I immediately recognized that by God’s grace my predicament had vanished – there was no way I would be released in time to preach.  Never has anyone been so thankful for an episode of atrial fibrillation!

The youth minister was chosen to pinch hit for me, so he came to visit me in the hospital to get my thoughts on the topic.  When he asked what text I had intended to use, I was forced to admit, “I couldn’t find one.” 

“So what were you going to say?” 

“I have absolutely no clue.”

You would think that that experience might cause me to seriously examine the issue of discovering God’s will.  It didn’t.  I continued to be convinced that God had a plan for my life and that it was incumbent upon me to discern that plan in order to make the right choices in the decisions that confronted me.  After all, who wants to miss God’s best for their life?  Not me!  I wanted to be obedient and go wherever the Lord wanted me to go, do whatever He wanted me to do, study whatever He wanted me to study, and marry whoever He wanted me to marry. 

I spent the next couple of years begging God to give me direction, repeatedly expressing my desire to obey, if only He would show me what He wanted me to do.  But all my pleas were met with total silence.  As far as I could tell, the Lord was giving me no inkling about what He had for me.  No direction at all.  

So I gave up.

A few years later, I discovered a biblical truth that changed my life.  And suddenly, all my years of searching for God’s will made perfect sense. 

You may have wrestled with the same issue, asking the same questions.  Maybe you still are.  In our next Sanctification Saturday (Feb 12), we will be taking an in depth look at the question of God’s will and what the Bible teaches about decision-making.  What questions should we ask when faced with an important decision?  What questions shouldn’t we ask?  What exactly does God expect of us as we make the difficult choices in life? 

We’ll answer these questions and more next Saturday morning, February 12 from 8:30-12:00.  Look for the sign-up sheet on Sunday.  I hope to see you there.  
Posted by Greg Birdwell

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