We live in a society that plans. In our society we tend to have 5-year, 10-year, and 20-year plans for ourselves, our families and our faith. Because of this we like to plan ahead. People choose their professions, their schools, write out their wills, and get life insurance so that they can rest in the knowledge that they know what’s coming. I believe this has bridged over into our faith as well. We want to plan out our lives as Christians. We want to make sure that our life of faith goes smoothly and with little surprise. So we ask this huge question: “What is God’s will for my life?” This is a huge question with so many profound implications, but it also might not be an un-Biblical question.
Let’s look a little further into this. Can you think of any situations in scripture where God gives His followers a detailed plan for their future? To Abram God said
“Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.” Genesis 12:1
In other words, pack your bags and start walking; Abram did.
Paul in the book of Romans says:
“in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.” Romans 1:10
To me this shows that Paul, as He is on His missionary journey and obviously within the will of God, does not know when He will be able to visit Rome. God has not revealed it to him, yet Paul continues to serve God where he is until a way is opened to him.
When it comes to following God’s will for our lives, we tend to be much more like Moses. In Exodus 3:10 God says:
“...go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” Exodus 3:10
It is here that we step into Moses' shoes and begin to ask questions: “Who shall I say sent me?”, “What if they don’t listen?”, “Don’t you know I don’t speak well?” It is our first reaction to question, in essence saying, are you sure God?
Here is my thought that I want to discuss today. Pursuing God’s will for your life often stops you from pursuing God’s will for your "right now." Let me say that again. Pursuing God’s will for your life often stops you from pursuing God's will for your "right now." Francis Chan puts it this way:
“It’s easy to use the phrase ‘God’s will for my life’ as an excuse for inaction and disobedience.”
I’m going to suggest that when we search out God’s will for our lives in one way, we are doing exactly what Paul warns us against in the book of Romans chapter 12. We are conforming to the patterns of the world. We live in a culture that plans and leaves no room for chance. God asks us to follow where His Spirit leads. How can we follow if we already have our destination in mind? Won’t that get in the way? I believe it will.
There is a great couple who go to my church who have huge hearts for overseas missions. In fact, they went to school for it, planned for it, were encouraged by other believers in their calling, but when it came time to go, they were prevented. A wrench was thrown in their machine and they couldn’t go. To many of us this would have crippled us--not to say there wasn’t a mourning time and tears, but they were not deterred. They understood that despite all the plans they had made, God’s will for them right now was something different.
One became involved in Children’s ministry and the other became associate pastor at our church. Many people, including myself, have been incredibly blessed by their ministry and friendship, a blessing that would not have happened had they said, “God, it seems like you’re asking us to stay here, but we planned on going overseas, so that’s what we are going to do.”
How many times while hearing sermons about service, missions, following God, sacrificing for God have there been times when you thought, “I think God wants me to ....” Did you do it? What got in the way? Was it plans you already made? Was it some future goal that doing this would have conflicted with? This happens all too often, and the plans we make for the future overrule the plan God has for us now.
“I want to buy a new car now, but I plan on being a home owner in five years and that would set me back a couple years, so I’ll wait.”
“I would love to do missions work, but i want to go to college, so maybe when I’m done with that.”
I’m not saying planning ahead is a bad thing. But holding on to those plans with a closed fist and being unwilling to take a detour when God calls you certainly is. How can you follow Jesus if you do this? You can’t; you simply can’t. We need to take our plans and hold them in our open hands and allow God to change them according to His will for our "right now." If we are doing God’s will for our “right now,” we will be doing God’s will for our life. When we are presented with something that God wants for us right now, run it by these two tests:
Make sure what you are asking for or considering doing is not something the Bible forbids.
Make sure what you are asking for or considering doing will glorify God and help you grow spiritually.
If these two criteria are met, then do it! Don’t hesitate--just do it.
Is your hand open or closed? Are you following God’s will for your "right now"? In the immortal words of Nike, Just do it!