I was having coffee with a friend just before the new year was to begin. As is typical for this time of year, we were discussing some goals that we both had for 2015. There were the usual suspects… getting in shape, being better about making time for friends, being on time for an appointment (I was 6 minutes late to coffee that day… ugh.) But then my friend threw out a new one. “I’d like to spend time this year seeking God’s will for my life, and actually doing it,” she said. It caught me by surprise, how she stated this with such intention, as if there were this package somewhere in her house with a big bow on it, a package that she’s walked by many times in the preceding days, months, and years, but for whatever reason, had chosen not to open. And when she did open up this package, there it would be, beneath layers of tissue paper—her God-ordained purpose—laid out perfectly and there for the taking.
If only it were that simple, seeking and finding God’s will for our lives. Hundreds of books have been written on the subject. My personal favorites are Henry Blackaby’s Experiencing God, and Garry Friesan’s Decision Making and the Will of God. Both are good reads if you are seeking the face of God. Both helped me understand how finding God’s will for my life had less to do with focusing on myself and what I was to do and more to do with focusing on Him and what He was already doing.
I am fascinated by the concept of “finding” God’s will for our lives. Many people tend to believe that finding God’s will is like looking for buried treasure, that it’s out there somewhere but I have yet to put my finger on exactly where it is or what it is. “I’ll know it when I find it,” they muse, “but God’s not showing it to me just yet.” Some believe that if we could just get a hint as to where it’s buried, maybe a trail of bread or a column of smoke rising up from its burial spot could lead us to where it is that our purpose in life is buried. Perhaps God could send a lightning strike to guide me to that X. Then I would know, then I could do!
But what if this elusive “will of God” was not an X on a map, not so much a bolt of lightning, but rather something broader, something that covered a bigger area, something that wasn’t so… hidden? I prefer to look at the will of God more like a jet stream than like a lightning bolt. It’s a big area, moving strongly through the climate of uncertainty, but that moves freely, a force directed by God but one that holds many people who are not so much doing their own will, blazing their own trail, but are rather traveling along with God, participating in what he is already doing. By jumping on board, we get to join in the splendor of what He is already accomplishing in this world. And, get this, by jumping on board, we get to be a part of it.
Henry Blackaby writes, “God is moving and working in this world. You have to jump on and join him.”
What if God’s will were more about what He was doing and less about our purpose in life were not to trail blaze on our own, but rather to jump on board and participate in what’s already going on. We would get the opportunity to use those amazing gifts that God has given each of us in a way that adds to what’s already happening in God’s plan of redemption and restoration for the people of this world. By jumping on board, we would get to participate in this epic story that is already in motion, and moving forward.
Romans 12:2 has been a favorite guide post for me as I have pursued God’s purpose for my life. Paul is writing to the Romans, attempting to convince them that there is an abundant life available to them through the power and purpose of Christ Jesus our Lord. But in order to claim that purpose for their lives, they have to leave behind the stale, godless life that had been dragging them down. If they could only jump on board, they would see that the way of God flows, guides, and protects.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)
This Jetstream of God’s will. Is it smooth and predictable? Not by a long shot. In fact, the forward movement will actually create a few storms. Some are orchestrated by God, they are perhaps a way to redirect us, like the storm God raised up when Jonah jumped on a boat in order to escape God’s call to minister to the people of Nineveh. The storm caused Jonah to face his disobedience, jump into the water, and be rescued by God himself. Sometimes we jump off of the Jetstream of God’s will and try to go it on our own, but we find that the terrain is laborious and difficult, that our efforts are not being met with much success and we long to have help. But alas, we have stepped away from His good and perfect will for our lives, so nothing seems to be working. Time to turn around and jump back on board.
What if, for this year, we committed to seeking God, not so much to discover our own will, but to discover His heart for his people, to ascertain His plan to redeem a hurting world, to uncover his deep and passionate love for the lost? What if, for this year, instead of searching for our own trail to blaze, we simply say, “I am ready to jump on and join you!”
Ready and willing. Those are two great words for 2015. Happy New Year!