Many people experience a lot of discouragement and even despair at the thought of finding and doing “the will of God.” One reason for this negativity is the mistaken belief that the will of God is a roadmap. Here’s how this belief looks in someone’s thoughts:
God’s will is a roadmap.
Since God’s will is a roadmap, I am supposed to get from point A to point B. Arriving at the destination is the most important thing.
At every decision point in life, I have to make the right choice in order to stay on the road.
If I make a mistake or sin, I get off the road.
The problem with this belief is that some choices are uncorrectable and irreversible (i.e., they have lasting consequences and permanently alter the choices you will have in the future).That means you could theoretically make a mistake that would cause you to miss out on ever arriving at “point B” on God’s roadmap for your life. Therefore, if you assume that God’s will is a roadmap, you’d better make sure you NEVER make the wrong choice.
Have you ever made a serious mistake? Committed a big, fat, whopping sin?
I know I have.
The good news is that God knows that whether through outright disobedience or honest ignorance we are going to blow it. We will make mistakes, we will sin, and we will royally screw things up. Therefore, we can make a deduction: since God knows we will blow it, yet he calls us to know and do his will, his will has to be big enough and full of enough grace to cope with the fact that we are going to make some whopping sins and mistakes.
Where can we go with this? We see that the roadmap point of view is insufficient. If it were true, we could never hope to “do God’s will.” We’d step out of line, not once, but many times, and lose the possibility forever.
But we know that we can do God’s will. We can live in his will:
Ephesians 5:17 says, “So then, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
Romans 12:2 reminds us to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Jesus himself summed it up when he said in Matthew 5:48, “You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
These verses give us a hint as to what God’s will is really about – how we can transform the roadmap myth into something true and right and good. If we paraphrase the above verses, they would say, “If you want to know and do God’s will, be wise ... sanctify your mind ... seek good, acceptable, and perfect things ... be yourself sanctified and holy ... live your life in imitation of Christ.”
This paraphrase tells us something very important: God’s will is not about our destination in life – it is about our character in life. What God wants most is not that you “arrive” at point B (whether that is a certain career, accomplishment, ministry, etc.), but that you become who he has called you to be.
So let’s destroy the myth that God’s will is a roadmap. God’s will is not primarily about getting us from point A to point B. It’s about becoming Christ-like. And that, at its core, is a process. It’s daily life – step by step, and day by day. We can therefore transform the roadmap myth into the truth: the will of God is a journey.
As a journey, the will of God can cope with all the twists and turns of life – good and bad, holy and sinful, wise and foolish. Why? Because God has promised that he can use everything in our lives for our good (Romans 8:28). Everything – nothing is excluded. God has begun a good work in us and he will perfect it (Philippians 1:6). When we love God, we can be assured that we can know and live God’s will – no matter what our past is, no matter what sins we have to overcome, no matter how long the process takes – because the will of God at its core is about becoming more like Christ every day.
Have you typically thought of God’s will as a matter of choice, or as a matter of character? Why? What impact has your perspective had on your life?
Think about some mistakes you’ve made and sins you’ve committed. What impact does it have on you to realize that these mistakes and sins cannot keep you from finding and doing the will of God?
How does it make you feel to realize that, according to Romans 8:28, God can actually redeem these mistakes and sins in order to accomplish his purpose in your life – a purpose that is for your good?