Several decades ago, I read a book entitled The Mystery of God’s Will by Charles Swindoll. The book made an incredible impression on me and I took notes like crazy! I’ve carried those notes with me ever since, in order to remind me of where I can always improve my walk with God. I’ve listed those notes (at a high level) here; I hope and pray that these brief notes will drive you to this book and that it inspires you as much as it did me.
We can never fully comprehend God’s ways with our finite minds. He’s the potter and we are the clay. True faith is obedience without any fear or hesitation. God’s decreed will is running its course precisely. We cannot know this decreed will ahead of time; only after it occurs. God’s decreed will is absolute, unchangeable, unconditional, and always in His plan (and it’s always best). God’s permissive will is allowing things to occur; and it is definitely the will of God.
To do things God’s way requires obedience. Some things God says not to do (i.e., ten commandments). Some things God says all Christians must do: Obey parents, Marry a Christian, Work an occupation, Support your family, Give to The Lord’s work and to the poor, Rear your children by God’s standards, Meditate on scriptures, Pray, Have a joyful attitude, Assemble for worship, Proclaim Christ, Set proper values, Have a spirit of gratitude, Display love, Accept all people, and Follow God’s Word.
God leads through His written word, by prompting of the Holy Spirit, through counsel of the wise, and through inner assurance of peace. Faith requires action on our part: Sometimes we need a major change of direction, not necessarily because we’re going in an evil direction but it’s just not the direction God wants for us. God doesn’t want us to substitute good for the very best.
Faith is obeying The Lord when unsure of the outcome. God wants us to walk by faith, not by sight. You are not on this earth, as a child of God, to please your family members or friends. Doing God’s will may mean persecution (Noah) – don’t expect approval of others. Walking by faith may feel lonely, or futile, but God will use you in His special plan. Doing God’s will means leaving the familiar for the unknown (Abraham). Ministry that costs nothing accomplishes nothing. God alone knows our future and there is nothing better than His will.
If man’s opinion is too significant to us, God may not be sovereign to us. God’s clear, pristine message to us is this: I am in charge, My way is right, and I am reigning sovereignly over you.
Our God is sovereign, which means He has a total, clear perspective. He sees the end from the beginning. There is no match on earth or in heaven. He entertains no fears, has no ignorance and has no needs. He has no limitations and always knows what’s best. He never makes a mistake. He will bring everything to a purposeful conclusion and ultimate goal. He is invincible, immutable, infinite, and self-sufficient. His judgments are unsearchable and his ways unfathomable. He is able to create rather than invent, direct rather than wish, control rather than hope, guide rather than guess, and fulfill rather than dream. – God and God alone can do these things!
God’s predetermined plan is fixed. We enter a world where the essential parts of our existence are already a part of God’s history. His will is always the safest, most rewarding place to live.
There are five steps to hear from God, or as Swindoll states, “read God’s lips”:
- Accepting frame of mind, free of stress and anxiety. You must remain open, teachable, sensitive, and available.
- Biblical investigation. God’s will is never contrary to God’s word. Use your concordance, study God’s precepts and principles, and spend time with God. You can read God’s lips much more easily if you spend sufficient time in His word.
- Clarification and conviction from the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit works within us like an inner compulsion. Be patient, God’s timing is perfect, and He knows His perfect plan for us. Often, the bigger the decision, the longer the wait.
- Determine if peace is occurring. Do you have peace? If you don’t have peace, you’re not there yet.
- Expect struggles and surprises: The will of God may mean work. Be still and have peace. This is the will of God and it is mysterious!
God is faithful to stay right where he is. When we compromise the truth, God doesn’t move; we do. The Lord’s loving-kindness never ceases. The Lord’s Compassions never fail. The Lord’s faithfulness never diminishes. God doesn’t call you into situations to be compared to someone else. The success that follows doing God’s will rests with God, not you.
God’s preferred method is surprise – expect it. His surprises require flexibility and adaptability; the process of internal development. Surprises have purposes. Pray, “What can I learn from this?” Surprises from God teach us to think theologically. Most of life is learning and growing, falling and getting back up, forgiving and forgetting, and accepting and moving on.
God opens and shuts doors. You may feel His leading, and invest resources, and then bang the door shuts. It’s often difficult to know why. God reveals His will only in the pages of His word. With prayer, the word, the Spirit’s dwelling within us, and wise counsel, we need nothing more than willing hearts. Once you feel God starting to lead you, immediately pray. Doors are closed, doors are opened, and lives are changed. Human understanding is very limited. Quit trying to make everything humanly logical. The will of God is that we ultimately become more like Christ. Think theologically. And be ready for the surprises of God.