Mystery of God’s Will -Swindoll

SwindollSeveral years ago (perhaps decades!), 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 a ton of notes. Since that time, I’ve carried those notes with me wherever I’ve gone to remind me of how I can always improve my walk with God. I’ve copied them here and divided into six sections: God’s Way, God’s Leading, God’s Sovereignty, God’s Plans, God’s Faithfulness, and God’s Surprises. I hope and pray that these brief notes will help your walk with God, will drive you to further study of God’s will, and prompt all of us to continually deepen our relationship with God.


God’s Way

We can never fully comprehend God’s ways with our finite minds. He’s the potter and we are the clay. We need to have an attitude of letting it be; just let it be. 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 (it’s always best). God is not surprised by anything, especially our trials. God’s permissive will is allowing things to occur; it is the definite will of God.

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.

There are five prerequisites for following the will of God:

  • Must be a Christian (only believers have the Spirit’s presence)
  • Must be wise making the most of our time – clear thinking – no foolishness
  • Must really want to do the will of God – you really will do whatever He wants you to do (more than pleasing people)
  • Must be able to give up comfort (Paul said, “Even my life doesn’t matter”)
  • Must be willing to pray and wait (not every answer comes as soon as we expect it).



God’s Leading

How does God lead?

  • Through His written word (you can never go wrong consulting scripture but every decision does not require a specific verse). The Word of God does not come to people today; we must go to God’s Word. The bible is God’s final revelation – until He sends His Son to take us home. God does not provide specifics for every situation; just principles to guide us.
  • By prompting of the Holy Spirit (do all things without grumbling or disputing – watch to see where God is at work and just go there!)
  • Through counsel of the wise, qualified, trustworthy people (such people will stay objective, listen carefully, and answer slowly –usually not family)
  • 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. Always ask yourself, “Am I willing to do it, once He makes it clear?”

Faith is obeying The Lord when I’m unsure of the outcome. God wants us to walk by faith, not by sight. We talk about the will of God for hours (which results in us not doing it!) Doing God’s will may upset others (Abel). You are not on this earth, as a child of God, to please your family members or friends. God’s will may lead to a surprise ending (Enoch). Doing God’s will may mean persecution (Noah) – don’t expect approval. 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.) Only God is sovereign; let Him reign in your life. God, and God alone, is in full control. His leading is always right.




God’s Sovereignty

If man’s opinion is too significant to us, God may not be sovereign to us. God’s clear, pristine message to us: 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 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 is not only invisible and sovereign, He is also silent. Listening in the silence, we must study God (be sensitive and skilled). We must respond to the inner promptings of The Spirit of God. God’s will is unpredictable. We need to be perceptive and patient. His plan is still unfolding and He is sovereign!


God’s Plans

God’s predetermined plan is fixed; much of it we do not expect. 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; even though it’s full of changing and risking and releasing. Listen to God and just do it!

There are five steps to hear from God, or as the author 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 plan for us, even if we don’t. 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 still churning. If you’re still churning, you’re not there yet. Do not try to talk others into decisions. Do not try to talk them out of decisions. God will do the leading; not you.
  • 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’s Faithfulness

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. Even when in God’s will, there is a need for mercy (chesed).

When we compromise the truth, God doesn’t move; we do. He’s faithful to stay right where he is.  The Lord’s loving-kindness never ceases. The Lord’s Compassions never fail. The Lord’s faithfulness never diminishes. Lamentations 3:22-23 says God’s mercies are “new every morning.” This is why most suicides take place at night; not in the morning when God’s mercies are new. The original Hebrew & Greek translate the word “Holy” used in the Bible, as “separation or a setting apart”. Anything that is holy is to be set apart for the purpose of glorifying God. It is separation from anything sinful, impure, or imperfect. It is the will of God for us to be holy too. His will may seem mysterious but it is never wrong. He is holy!

1 John 1: 5-7 “but if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we will have…”
Romans 6: 12-18 “sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace”

To let God, you must let go of sin (lusts). God is always faithful to us.




God’s Surprises

God’s preferred method is surprise – expect it. His surprises require flexibility and adaptability; the process of internal development. Surprises have purposes. Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Pray, “What can I learn from this?” When surprised, we are supplied grace from God. He supplies what we need to endure. Surprises from God teach you 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.

Spend less time analyzing God and more time obeying Him. Practice, “I don’t know”, “I don’t understand”, “this is beyond me”, “it doesn’t make sense to me” “…but that’s okay. God knows!”

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.