As followers of Jesus, we often hear about the importance of knowing and following God’s will. Yet, it seems so elusive, doesn’t it? Like looking for a needle in a haystack – or a lost coin or a lost sheep or a lost son. After all, we aren’t born with an owner’s manual; we don’t know exactly what we’re designed to do. So often, that is discerned by trial and (lots of) error.
That said, we do have the Bible as God’s written Word to us. While it may not contain every specific thing for our lives (there is no index telling us whether to buy a particular house, for example), it does contain some general principles that help us know God’s will for us. Indeed, there is no other written source by which we may know even a hint of God’s will!
Of course, God can speak to our hearts through other sources, but those other sources will either underline or corroborate biblical principles. Our goal, in the end, is not for us to properly fulfill some sort of divine checklist of things we’ve done that are “God’s will.” Instead, our goal is to become more like Jesus.
David Benner is a Christian spiritual writer who lives on Vancouver Island; I commend any of his books to your interest. He has said, “Learning to desire God’s will is not something we can accomplish by resolve and willpower. It occurs only when we live so close to God’s heart that the rhythm of our own heartbeat comes to reflect the divine pulse.” Perhaps you know what it’s like to be so intimate with someone that you can feel the beat of that person’s heart. We can experience that with God, too. God longs for us to share that degree of intimacy with him.
When we pray – when we enter God’s holy presence at more than just mealtime – we have the opportunity to grow in intimacy with him. When we serve the poor, we have the opportunity to grow in intimacy with him. When we read the Scriptures and learn from biblical teaching, we have the opportunity to grow in intimacy with God. Anything we do that drew the passion of Jesus in his ministry as recorded in Scripture can draw us closer to God’s heart, and have us living in God’s will.
“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5.16-18, NLT).