Often when we think of God’s will, we imagine a script with every scene, every line, and every movement written out ahead of time. But as we started to examine last week, it’s actually less like a script than we might think. God is relational, and so he invites us into the process of shaping and fulfilling his plans along with him. At any moment, he’s ready and willing for us to go on this journey with him if we’re only willing to join in.
This truth has some pretty profound impacts on how we understand and attempt to follow God’s will. This week, I’d like to talk about one of them. Specifically, I want to discuss our agency in the midst of following God’s will.
It may sound paradoxical to say that we get to make choices when we’re follow God’s plan for our lives. After all, wasn’t the whole point to give up control in the first place? Of course. But like most things, we find that when we give control of our lives over to God, he ends up giving it back to us in ways we never would have imagined.
Have you ever come to a major decision in your life and felt like God wasn’t helping you make it? You pray and pray and pray, but he never gives you an answer. The deadline is coming up, and you still haven’t heard a word from him. You’ve read scripture, weighed the pros and cons, asked your discerning friends for advice, and lost countless hours of sleep, but you still don’t feel like God is giving you a clear indication of which path forward is the one he has for you. Have you ever been there? Most of us have. And if you haven’t, you soon will. It can be terrifying, but it doesn’t have to be.
Here’s an idea: What if God isn’t giving you a clear answer because he doesn’t have one? What if God’s will is big enough, his wisdom profound enough, his love for us deep enough, that we can make the decision ourselves and still be in line with his will? What if either path has the potential to be God’s will as long as we travel that path with him?
I think that God sometimes gives us a choice along the journey with him. Not the choice of whether to follow his will or not, but literally the choice of which path we want to go down with him. If you’re trying to make a decision and it feels like more than one choice could be God’s will for your life, it very well could be the case.
This sort of thing doesn’t happen all the time, and it can only happen within the context of a person faithfully and dutifully following God’s will, but I believe that it does happen. Sometimes, God’s will for our lives can be accomplished more than one way, and so he gives us a choice. The options are different and have real, long-term effects on how our lives turn out, but they’re within the realm of God’s will no matter which one we choose because we’re following him and choosing to take that next step with him.
It’s important to note that even in this situation, we aren’t making the decision completely on our own. We’ve followed God’s guidance to a point where we’re given more than one good option. Only through following him do we even find ourselves positioned to make a choice that is good for us in the long run. God, not us, has set up a situation where we can’t make a wrong decision, and that’s a wonderful place to be. These moments are blessings from and rewards for being faithful followers, and in these moments, we get to experience a new way of journeying through life with him.
So how do we make those choices when they arise? Well, God gave us our minds for a reason. We can use them to make good, informed decisions when we’re focused on doing things his way. And as I’ve said before, our passions and preferences are God-given traits that help us understand his will for us, so we should be willing to listen to them for guidance when his answer is absent or unclear. These, too, are sources that we can use for discerning which way forward is best, as long as we never give in to the temptation of taking back total control of our lives.
It’s strange and mysterious, but it’s true: Only through giving up control of our lives to God can we gain any choice over our life journeys. When we trust him and choose to do things his way, he turns around and trusts to make decisions, too. If you’re asking God for direction and don’t hear his answer, don’t fret. It’s very possible that he’s giving you an opportunity to have some input on the plan, too.
So when that opportunity arises, step out. Use the intellect and passions God has given you to make the choice that’s right for you. And as you take that step, bring God along with you as your partner and guide, thanking him for the opportunity to forge this path of life together.
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