Desiring the will of God above all else is what we must value and prioritize as believers. As believers, our aim and priority should be to align our hearts with the Lord’s and desire his will for our lives. We should desire to be in the will of God and live our lives as an acceptable offering to Christ. We should be consumed with the idea of being in the will of God.
All of this hinges on one important thing. What is the will of God? While such a simple question, our perception of the will of God is what dictates whether or not we are actually in the will of God. I have come to the realization that my perception of the will of God has been slightly jaded. I feel that the Holy Spirit has been doing a work in my heart and shaping what I consider to be the will of God. While this is extremely important and completely necessary, it has been an area where my faith is being stretched.
While painful, stretching is necessary for growth.
I have always thought that if I chose the will of God I would be avoiding pain and inconvenience. I thought that pain and inconvenience was only something that one experienced if they wandered away from the will of God. I had this idea that the will of God if walked in, would be accompanied by happiness, joy, convenience, and blessing. God has been shifting this perspective ever so slightly in my heart.
Stepping into Paul’s shoes when reading through Acts of the Apostles, I am learning that my perception may have slightly missed the mark. In Acts chapter 20, I feel the Lord redefining what the will of God truly is.
“And now I am bound by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem. I don’t know what awaits me, except that the Holy Spirit tells me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead. But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God. Acts 20:22-23
Paul had been traveling through Ephesus, ensuring the churches he had planted were thriving and growing. Paul was attempting to arrive in Jerusalem by the day of Pentecost. Paul knew that suffering was ahead of him. The Spirit had told him this and other people close to Paul had confirmed the less than desirable future. Paul was well aware that pain and suffering of some kind, most likely prison, awaited him in Jerusalem. Knowing that this inconvenience lies ahead, Paul tells us that he has no choice but to go to Jerusalem because The Spirit is calling him there.
My initial reaction was, “wait, the Holy Spirit is telling him to go to the very place where he will experience suffering and pain?” Is that not a paradox? Why would such a good God desire that for Paul? Seemingly, the will of God resided in the very place of pain.
It seems that the Spirit is telling Paul to walk willingly into suffering. That did not make any sense in my mind. Why would God’s will for Paul be for him to go to prison? Why would God willingly instruct arguably the greatest evangelist ever to go to a city where he would be arrested and sent to prison?
Verse 24 may be my life verse. If I had to choose one bible verse that culminated the faith that I strive for, it would be verse 24.
But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God. Acts 20:24
Paul is aware that God has instructed him to go to Jerusalem. Despite his skepticism, Paul obeys and walks willingly into the unknown and into difficulty, simply because it was God's will. He put aside his humanity and his human nature of preservation and walked along the path that he knew God was calling him to. While this path did mean pain and inconvenience, Paul knew he had an assignment he had to complete. He said that his life would be worthless if he was not obedient to God.
Paul showed me that being in the will of God will sometimes require you to walk boldly into the unknown. The will of God is not spelled out and is not completely guaranteed to be a walk in the park. Sometimes, as seen with Paul, God will lead you into a painful or inconvenient situation. God wants us to demonstrate our faith that He is sovereign and is orchestrating everything for the good.
This changed everything for me. It gave me a new standard and a new perspective of the will of God. Many things that I may have avoided, or strayed away from because of the level of difficulty, I now run toward. Knowing that the will of God will sometimes be difficult but it will stretch your faith, has given me a new perspective. I now have a new level of trust. I am now open to the possibility of following through with something that seems difficult.
Before this realization, I would stray away from anything that I was unable to see the other side of, but now I am aware that uncertainty is where faith begins. God wants to lead us where our faith is without borders.
Practicality and logic can be kryptonite to our faith.
When practicality and logic are in abundance there is little faith. Faith says, “I can see no possible way this circumstance makes sense, but I will willingly walk into it with confidence because that is where the Holy Spirit is leading me.”
Just like Paul, I want to have the faith to walk into a situation that seems like it will bring pain and inconvenience and hold fast to the confidence that God is worried about my purpose and destiny rather than my comfort.
I am learning that the will of God is not always a quiet meadow where there are complete peace and no conflict. The plan that God has for your life is not always going to bring you immediate joy and overwhelming peace. God never guarantees that the Christian walk will be easy, but he does ensure purpose behind everything.
Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest. Ecclesiastes 11:4
There is never a perfect time to be obedient to the will of God. There will never be a “right time”. God allows us the opportunity to trust that He is in control and to step into the unknown. The time will never be more perfect than now. You will never be more ready than you are now.
I want to challenge you to step into the future God is calling you to. Have the faith to step into what God is calling you to, regardless of the pain or inconvenience you think lies on the other side.
You will never be able to reap a harvest of something tomorrow that you don’t have the faith to plant today.