From the outside looking in, the idea that there is a single Being in the universe who is powerful enough-or arrogant enough in some people’s minds-to presume to have a plan for every other being in the universe, amounts to little more than magic or superstition. Christ-followers affirm the truth that the Almighty does indeed have a plan but add that His plan is one of love for His creation. We counter the superstitious assumptions, but many of us seek to find God’s will in superstitious ways:
“If a blue bird lands on my car during lunch …”
“If a particular song comes on the radio …”
“If she turns and looks at me …”
Surely God has a better way than these “tests” for us to know His will.
Erasmus (1469-1536) of Rotterdam, Holland, thought so. Called the prince of Christian humanists, Erasmus was a champion of common sense and intelligence. Much to the contrary of superstitious systems, he cared for practical Christianity and real-life ethics. In his Handbook of a Christian Soldier, Erasmus argued: “Whether it be through negligence or ignorance, most Christians are superstitious instead of pious and except for the name of Christ are not far from the superstition of the heathen.”
If we are to seek God’s will with depth and maturity, we must move past the superstitious quick fixes and into the hard work of seeking the Lord …
God wants us to know His will each day of our lives. He is at work in every situation and is teaching us what He wants us to do as we walk through life with Him. It amazes me that God can teach me through the ordinary circumstances of my life, and it blows me away to think that He is doing that same thing in the life of every Christ-follower walking the planet today.
If we are going to find God’s will in our daily lives, we must come to believe a couple of truths. First of all, we must be convinced that God is in control of the world in which we live. Secondly, we must believe that we can discern His will by watching His activity around us.
Discovering God’s will through your day-to-day circumstances starts with realizing that God is in charge. Since He is in charge, He can teach us and speak to us through the otherwise normal activities of our lives. Theologians use the term providence to describe this reality:
“Providence is in certain ways central to the conduct of the Christian’s life. It means that we are able to live in the assurance that God is present and active in our lives. We are in his care and can therefore face the future confidently, knowing that things are not happening merely by chance.”
Millard Erikson’s definition of providence gives us a picture of a relational God who is actively involved in both human activity and nature as a whole. We can find God’s will through our day-to-day lives because God is intimately involved in the world around us.
God could have chosen for you to be born any time, at any place on the globe, and yet He chose right here, right now. For me, not only did God choose the 21st century, but He chose Washington, D.C., in the 21st century. Just as God has placed me in D.C., He has placed you where you are now. None of us are where we are by accident. I love the way Acts 17:26 puts it:
“From one man He has made every nation of men to live all over the earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live …”
Right now, God has you where you are for a reason. Six years ago, it was not my choice to move from South Texas to D.C.-it was God’s design.
As we accept God’s control of our circumstances, we must also accept His continual movement in the world around us. The question is not whether or not God is busy throughout the world; the question is how aware we are going to be of His ongoing work:
“Because God’s sovereign plan will be done, it isn’t up to us to consciously bring it about. However, by being aware of how God is at work, we have clues about how to make decisions. We also grow in our faith as we see plans fall together that we have presented to Him, and we learn to relax in His control in our lives.”
As we live our day-to-day lives, we must actively look for God’s activity around us. If we seek a high level of sensitivity to the work of God around us, we will begin to see His hand everywhere.
It’s kind of like when you get a new car. You probably took little notice of that type of car before you bought it, but the moment that you drove off the lot, you started to see car after car just like the one you were steering. You see what you are looking for. It’s true with cars, and it’s true with God. If you are looking for His activity, you will notice it in places that you never have before.
Excerpted from Connect the Dots: Discovering God’s Ongoing Will in Your Life, a Threads short-term study from author Mike Hurt.