Have you ever watched a show like Let’s Make a Deal? And not the new one – I mean the original, the one with Monty Hall.
If you haven’t, it is like most other game shows where a contestant is able to compete for cash and prizes. One of the games on Let’s Make a Deal that was my favorite was the opportunity to win the grand prize…you know, the car.
And in the show, there were three doors, and behind one of the them was a car. But behind the other two doors were very lesser prizes that were great representations of what you felt like if you chose foolishly.
Behind these doors were…the goats. Not a great substitute for the car.
You could tell the contestants were wrestling and in great consternation over which door to choose. Then Monty would open one of the other doors that was not chosen. And invariably there was one of the goats.
Monty would then ask, “OK, you have a choice now – you can either keep your door selection or you can switch to the other unchosen door.”
Now the look of pain appeared on the face of the contestant. Do they switch? Do they stay with their original choice? What if they switch and it’s a goat? But what if the car is actually behind the other door?
And one of two thing happened: great elation as the car was revealed or great pain as the wrong door was chosen.
Let’s make a deal…with God
Do you want to know one thing that keeps me in what I like to call analysis paralysis? It is the idea that as a leader I can tend to view God’s will in this way, as Let’s Make a Deal, like I hope and pray that I make the right choice when it comes to a decision and choose that right door. Three choices are in front of me, I have no idea what God wants me to do, so I choose one and just cross my fingers that behind that door is not the goat of my life.
You know, the decision that will haunt me and remind me that I missed what God had for me.
Have you ever had that fear?
God’s will…like a blade of grass
I used to view the pursuing of God’s will like a field of grass. I see this large acreage of ground with all these blades of grass, and God says “My will is out there.” And I say “Where Lord?” And He says, “He-he. Well, it is one of those blades of grass. Better choose the right one or your life will spin out of control into chaos for many years! Good luck my child!”
A.W. Tozer made an insightful statement. He said…
What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.
As a leader, and more importantly, a Christian leader, it is extremely important to me that I follow after God’s will and hear His voice as I pray and read His revealed Word.
But, as Tozer said, my view of God is the most important thing about me. In other words, if my view of God is off, so is my life.
Being a leader is about making decisions and lots of them, and you probably resonate with me in saying that I want my decisions to be sound decisions, ones of which God would approve.
But I think we, or at least I, have made this topic of God’s will so mysterious, like trying to get my hands around a cloud. And so we live in fear that even though God has created me and I have believed His Gospel message, yet He is somewhat uninvolved in my life in the big things, and so I am left groping for His will when important decisions need to be made for me our someone else.
A healthier view of God’s will
My goal today is to hopefully unravel some of this confusion and shed some light on this topic of leading into God’s will as we make decisions for ourselves or for others.
There are two books that I would highly recommend on this topic:
- The first is Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will by Kevin DeYoung; and
- The second is Found: God’s Will by John MacArthur
Both are relatively short reads but have really helped me to view God more accurately in this area regarding making decisions and God’s will.
We can get so caught up in finding or missing God’s will that we forget that God has already stated what His will for us is. Consider these – it is God’s will…
- that we rejoice (I Thessalonians 5:16)
- that we pray without ceasing (I Thessalonians 5:17)
- that we give thanks (I Thessalonians 5:18)
- that we be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2)
- that we be sanctified (I Thessalonians 4:3)
- that we suffer well (I Peter 4:19)
- that we love God with all of our heart and that we love our neighbors as ourselves (Luke 10:27)
- that we do justly, love mercy, walk humbly (Micah 6:8)
How about these? How much attention am I putting into understanding God’s mind on just these eight? God has already spoken about what He wants to see in my life.
So what about the “other stuff”? You know, the decisions about work, moving, purchasing this or that, or any of the other myriad decisions that come into our lives and cause us to pause and start worrying or fretting that we will somehow miss what God has for us?
God’s will: stay in Oregon or move to Wisconsin
Let me give an example – my last move. I lived in Oregon for nine years. And they were fruitful years – tough years at times – but fruitful years. We had moved out near Portland to help in the planting of a new church. And God provided work for me in downtown Portland in the business district. It was a good life for all of us.
And then nine years into the journey a opportunity to teach at Northland comes along. Talk about a curveball (in my own eyes). I was not ready for that decision. We just bought a house! God was stretching and growing me and my family out in Oregon. But there was this other opportunity…which should I choose? Which would be best for my family? Stay or go?
I remember the agonizing time I had with this decision – two years in fact – in trying to determine God’s will. I was just certain God was in one of the choices and not in the other. But which one? Part of my problem in leading well in this scenario was that I just was not viewing God accurately. And I did not want to lose His blessing for the rest of my days and negatively impact my family. And so a lot of anguish.
Do you resonate with my tension?
MacArthur made a powerful statement in his book, Found: God’s Will. He says…
If you are living a godly life, He will give you the right desires.
Psalm 37 encourages me with…
Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.
This verse does not mean God is my personal genie and as I pursue Him He will give me what I want.
No, rather, delight in God and He gives me desires that are after His thinking. He changes my “wanter.”
God delights in my making choices
And so, looking back to Oregon, as I was chasing after God, I believe that I could have stayed in Oregon and God would have been pleased with me. Why, because I was walking with Him, seeking counsel, praying, and reading His word, and impacting people at work and at church. But I made the decision to come to Wisconsin. And you know what? God has immensely grown our family here – just like He was doing in Oregon.
God is in control. And He delights in me as His son. Read again the story of the prodigal son. To understand that God gives me choices as I delight in Him is extremely liberating and takes a lot of bricks out of my backpack.
And please do not misunderstand. I am not saying that God does not care about the details of my life or is uninvolved. Nor am I saying that I have choices in whether to do that which God has already revealed in His Word. I need to obey.
But the truth is that God does not address in Scripture which job to take or what move to make – or most of the decisions in life! But He does give wisdom principles in the Bible as well as the promise of the Holy Spirit in my life. And I believe that God delights in my making decisions when I do it in pursuit of Him. I feel like at times He is saying, “Antone, just do something and trust Me.”
Many times my stalling in decisions is because I do not want to make a wrong decision and have bad things happen. The truth is that whether in Oregon or Wisconsin, there have been deep trials in both places and deep growth in both places.
Kevin DeYoung states…
Perhaps our inactivity is not so much waiting on God as it is an expression of the fear of man, the love of the praise of man, and disbelief in God’s providence.
Let me wrap up this post with a powerful quote from DeYoung’s book. This really caused me to see God in a better light:
He calls us to run hard after Him, His commands, and His glory. The decision to be in God’s will is not the choice between Memphis or Fargo or engineering or art; it’s the daily decision we face to seek God’s kingdom or ours, submit to His lordship or not, live according to His rules or our own.
So go marry someone, provided you’re equally yoked and you actually like being with each other. Go get a job, provided it’s not wicked. Go live somewhere in something with somebody or nobody. But put aside the passivity and the quest for complete fulfillment and the perfectionism and the preoccupation with the future, and for God’s sake start making some decisions in your life. Don’t wait for the liver-shiver. If you are seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, you will be in God’s will, so just go out and do something.
I had to really spend some time thinking through this, because it is not a freedom I have heard much before. But I have applied this to my life and found God faithful…and ever present, desiring me to go forward in grace and make decisions.
I need to just…do…something. Now go do the same.
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