Today, I was talking with a friend about how difficult it can be at times to discern the will of God. I don't know for sure, but I suspect I'm not the only one who struggles with this: I often can't sense God's presence as much as I would like, and I also don't feel like I am getting a clear picture from Scripture regarding what God is saying, and so...
Well, me personally, I either get really frustrated and mad because God isn't doing anything (apparently), or I get worried and afraid to move forward because God isn't doing anything (apparently). I think another common response is to simply give up on God and try to do things on our own, because we think that since God doesn't seem to be showing up, we are left to make our own way. I don't believe any of these options are viable for Christians.
Thankfully, we are given a very clear picture of the will of God: it is found in the life of Jesus Christ as captured in the gospels. Jesus, we believe, IS God. Fully God, and yet fully human. So, if you want to know what the will of God is for your life, look at how Jesus lived, and follow his lead!
"Yeah," people might say, "but Jesus really didn't have to deal with what I'm dealing with. His world was totally different than mine." True enough - but only partially. Yes, Jesus' historical time and place was far removed from ours, but the response he gave to his world is the same response we are to give to ours: announce that the kingdom of God is at hand, and live out that proclamation!
It all sounds so easy when I say it, but, unfortunately, I know full well how difficult it can be. And even though I don't really like admitting it to myself, I am fairly certain that I know the real reason I/we make excuses like this. The truth is, we really don't like the idea of living like Jesus!
I mean, if the will of God is to live like Christ, then it apparently will involve sacrifice. It will mean placing others before ourselves, even to a radical degree at times. It may mean giving up everything we hold onto for security. At the very least, if following God means living like Jesus, it will often upset our comfortable lives. And this - I suspect - is the real reason we often ignore the will of God clearly presented to us in the life and work of Christ, and instead try to look for some mysterious "sign" or evidence of the "will of God" in our lives.
Perhaps when we stop looking for (and trying to fabricate in our field of vision) what we think God's will should look like, and simply start to follow Jesus and live like he said we should, then we will find that God's will has never been far away... it's always right in front of us, waiting for us to take it seriously.
If I'm completely honest, it's easier sometimes for me to create a false dichotomy between God and Jesus, as though God's will and Jesus' will are not the same. But if Jesus is God, then God's will is Jesus' will. And Jesus has given us a pretty clear picture of what God's will involves. It may not always be that appealing, but that's something we will have to deal with if we are going to take God's will seriously.
Maybe I'm just realizing how much I fight against what God really wants, and how much I try to make God's will into my own will. That will never work. So, instead, I'm going to try a bit more each day to follow Jesus. At least that's my desire.
God, give me your strength.