God’s will is expressed through the Bible. Too often we look for God’s will to be revealed in supernatural ways when He has already expressed His will through Scripture.
We often want God’s will in specific areas of our lives without first applying His general will as spelled out in the Bible. We want God to show us that He has a plan for us without considering that His plans are eternal, not merely temporal.
Sometimes God’s will is for us to wrestle with the choices before us. God may want us to wrestle with Him as Jacob did the night before he met his brother, Esau, after decades of being estranged (Gen. 32:22-32). Jacob was on a mission to return to the land of promise. But human fear and reasoning created doubt in Jacob’s mind regarding God’s will. Jacob spent the night seeking God’s will and pleading for Esau’s heart to be softened. Instead of a straight answer, he ended up wrestling with a heavenly Messenger.
When we wrestle with God, our will is softened, our desires are surrendered, and our experience with God deepens so that we can discern who God is. Knowing God through personal faith experiences is pivotal to discerning His will. We can’t expect to know God’s will if we are not in a relationship with Him.
God’s will is sometimes revealed in special ways: through strong inclinations, confirmation by godly people, or “open doors.” We often bypass the first two principles and expect God to function in some dramatic way on our behalf. Let’s face it: It’s much easier if God gives us a direct revelation, but does that help us grow in our knowledge of Scripture and in our relationship with God?
I have had instances in which God has revealed His will to me in special ways. I appreciate these experiences because I had followed God’s will as expressed in Scripture and proved Him time and again in wrestling over life’s choices. That was when I knew for certain that the special communication was from God, not from my imagination or wishful thinking.
In some life choices more than one option is within God’s will. Often I‘ve spent time in God’s Word, wrestled with God in prayer, and sought the counsel of godly advisers. Then I’ve come to the conclusion that God wants me to exercise sound judgment. He will bless either decision, since both are within His will.
I offer these four principles in the order in which they should be applied. Start with God’s Word, wrestle with it, seek counsel about it, and decide if God can bless whatever you decide.
Shawn Paris is senior pastor of the Atholton Seventh-day Adventist Church in Maryland.