There are so many decisions in life with unknown variables and consequences that it only makes sense to seek God for answers and guidance. How we go about acquiring that guidance though has been the subject of much debate, misinformation and controversy. And yet operating with the peace of knowing we are acting within God’s will and direction can help us avoid making choices that could prove disastrous, and effectively ruin our entire lives. Whether it’s deciding who to marry (or whether to marry at all), the kind of careers we pursue, or being faced with other monumental, life-changing decisions, there’s nothing more relieving than to know it is possible to choose wisely with the aid of our Divine Creator.
Will God indeed direct our course as long as we are willing to cede our will to His own? I absolutely believe it, and the Bible provides ample proof of this. We have numerous examples of the LORD directing military strategy, politics, and people’s financial decisions as long as they sought Him for answers. In the case of Jacob, God revealed in a dream how he could manage his flock so that his assets would increase dramatically and he would gain more in wealth than his own boss. The LORD also directed Joshua on how to conduct his military campaign and politics over the course of his life. Indeed, in Joshua’s example we found what happened when he DIDN’T seek God for council regarding military enemies that posed as ambassadors. Joshua fell for the deception and was forced to make a political pact that had far reaching consequences over Israel’s history.
Over and over in the Bible we see how it’s affirmed that God can direct our lives and aid us in making wise decisions in life. He offers us wisdom as a gift, promises that the “steps of a righteous man are ordered” by Him, and assures us those who seek answers will find it.
Yet in those times, learning God’s will seemed so much easier because He spoke directly to His people. In these days, that voice has been buried under a mountain of heresies, lies and false prophesying. How do we discern His true voice from the noise and lies?
One crucial element is to know His word (and not merely a polluted paraphrase of it such as The Message.) It’s amazing just how few Christians have read the Bible, much less memorized as much of it as they could. That simple effort would help blunt them from falling for many of the heresies that exist in the church today. Those who know God’s word through and through will be able to more easily spot when someone who claims to speak for God tells them something that winds up being in complete contradiction to the Bible. It also helps guide day-to-day decisions as well where the Bible specifically addresses the subject in question. The first step is obvious then: read and memorize the Bible as much and as often as you can.
Today we also have a massive amount of Christians leaders and “prophets” who claim to speak for God. Some may give you a “word” about your life and attempt to persuade you to follow it. They may even wow you with “prophecies” that reveal intimate details about your life that no one else would know. Can we trust such messengers?
It depends on a few factors: the message would not contradict Scripture, for one. As an obvious example, God will not tell you to commit adultery in complete opposition to His own spoken word. Secondly, such a messenger will not try to guilt induce you into believing him by saying if you question his prophecy, you are sinning or showing a lack of faith, etc. This is how so many false prophets get away with what they do. They terrify the people into believing that if they challenge that “prophet’s” word, they are “touching God’s anointed” and risking danger of eternal judgment. Again this is where knowledge of Scripture is crucial, because this attitude is completely unbiblical. Paul commended a group of believers who were natives of Berea by not accepting Paul’s message at his word, instead they searched and read the Bible to make sure he wasn’t telling them bold-faced lies. We are admonished to be skeptical and discern wisely, even when such messengers are able to do amazing, supernatural things. The Bible is truly our rearguard here. The Scripture is so unwavering in its finality that Paul also said if he or an angel from heaven began preaching something other than what was previously preached, to “believe it not.”
In order to gain more assurance that the answer we sense, hear or feel regarding a choice to be made is from God, I believe it’s also important to follow God’s dictate regarding testimony: “In the mouths of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” Whatever you feel might be the answer will be affirmed by the people you love, trust and are equally believers. I’ve seen this in my own life as well, people I confide in that I normally wouldn’t agree with about ANYTHING, and yet when it comes to important choices, suddenly they are in perfect alignment with what’s been in my own heart. If I wind up wanting to make a choice that nobody in my trusted circle can agree with, chances are I am falling out of God’s will.
So we know we can rely on Scripture and the witness of others for assurance that any “word” received is for real. But HOW do we get that word to begin with?
It would be awesome if we could plainly hear from God, but this is a rare thing in today’s world, mostly because deep down most of us do not want to hear from Him. The sooner we do, the sooner we must then confront the life we lead and our besetting sins. Hearing the LORD is equivalent to being consciously and uncomfortably aware of how depraved we are as sinners. We saw this in Israel, where the LORD provided the people an opportunity to hear His voice, and rather than rejoice, they panicked and begged Moses to continue working as an intermediary. Hearing God directly may be a supernatural blessing that will tremendously reinforce your faith, but it also comes at the cost of segregating you even further from the world and from others, and forces you to no longer be casual or comfortable when dealing with your own sins. God’s mercy and kindness though is boundless, and He will meet us somewhere in the middle if we remain too spiritually immature or fearful to truly hear His voice.
That middle ground comes in the most simple solution that somehow still seems to elude most Christians today: the prayer Jesus exhorted all of us to pray: “THY WILL BE DONE.”
James expounds on this a bit further (James 4:13-15): “Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, IF THE LORD WILL, we shall live, and do this, or that.”
I apply this to my own life so often that it’s almost become a mantra. “If it’s your will, LORD… If it’s your will, LORD… nevertheless THY WILL BE DONE.” I even went so far as to write out a contract abdicating any control I had over what direction my life would take over to Him. Every crucial decision I have been faced with in life has been pretexted with “THY WILL BE DONE.”
God will grant us space to make our own decisions, even when they lead to disastrous results, but He WILL step in and take control when we genuinely cede our will to His, and actively seek His council. Many Christians though (to use a biblical term) “dissemble themselves in their heart,” in while they claim to want to follow God’s will, they wind up doing whatever they want anyway, and just assume any hedonistic desire or wish they have has the LORD’s automatic approval. (Read Jeremiah 43.) Only God knows who is being genuine and who is not here, but there are many who have sadly convinced themselves that they defer to God’s will, when in reality they are operating in complete rebellion of it.
I have nearly always pretexted all my major life decisions with “THY WILL BE DONE.” I’m completely confident that my steps have been ordered by God because my will has almost NEVER been what God’s will actually was. ?
I thought I would have a career in law enforcement. I thought God wanted me to be a lawyer. I thought maybe I could find a way to be self-employed by being a professional blogger. I also thought I could succeed in the stock market and retire that way. I thought I would find love here, or there. I thought I would finally find the perfect dog to own, or the perfect place to live. I thought many things. And in all that, I thought wrong. In one sense I had entrusted God to care for my entire life, and yet in another sense I was beside myself trying to crowbar open the doors He had effectively sealed. I guess because a part of me was intent to follow His will, even during those moments when I just COULD NOT accept that the LORD wanted me to remain where I was, He kept the doors sealed. THY WILL BE DONE.
The decisions I made all SEEMED like they were horribly bad decisions, and that I was completely wasting my life. The world kept telling me I was wrong, my conscience would tell me I was wrong, the mailman would tell me I was wrong. Even dogs trotting down the street would glance at me with a “You’re so wrong” expression on their faces. It’s tough to find any peace when a decision you feel was made in obeisance to God’s providence seems to be nothing but pure folly to nearly everyone else.
But while my life seemed to be a standstill of waste and failure, the wheels were slowly churning in the background, and looking back now, there is virtually nothing I could have done to successfully orchestrate the chain of events that would lead to my deliverance out of a dead end job, and into a new life granting me more blessings than I could have ever dreamed of. This is the LORD’s doing, and it is marvelous before our eyes.
It is a surely a baptism of fire to follow God’s will AND persevere in it. You don’t know what the end of it will be until much of it is behind you, and even then there’s no guarantee other than the peace of knowing your will is aligned with the LORD’s own. I thank God that He still saw fit to grant me many of my heart’s desires, even if they weren’t brought about the way I wanted them to be brought about. I can testify today that because of the goodness of God, my latter end is better than the former.
We CAN know God’s will in our lives. He will give us the answers we seek, even if it’s the answers we don’t initially want to hear. He is our Rearguard and our Caretaker. THY WILL BE DONE.
Matt Walsh recently wrote an article titled: Dear Millennial Men, Don’t Be Afraid of Marriage and Fatherhood, another subtle hit piece designed to shame men into marrying up without regard to the inherent dangers of marrying in this day and age.
I can look at my life up until this point and separate it into two distinct halves: childhood and manhood. Childhood ended and manhood began precisely when I became a husband and then a father.
He attempts to qualify that statement by indicating that it’s not exactly ideal when one doesn’t finally become a man until he marries, and yet the rest of the article derides single men for being cowards, allowing their fear to dictate their lives, the unspoken assertion being that indeed, men really do not become TRUE men until they marry. The message is clear then: you’re only a REAL man when you take on the responsibilities of marriage and raising a family. He makes certain exceptions in an effort to be balanced, but it’s obvious that he believes the vast majority of Christian single men today abstain from marrying for purely selfish, adolescent reasons.
This is so at odds with what the Apostle Paul wrote about singlehood:
But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. (1 Corinthians 7:32-34)
Paul wasn’t trying to be critical of those who were married, he was instead speaking to the realities that marriage and family can often consume one’s life so entirely that matters of Christianity become secondary. A man’s family comes first before he starts to think about the things of God. It’s interesting that Paul felt this was more of a stumbling block for Christians than that those who remained single would devolve into Peter Pan man-childs. It was Paul’s preference then that people would be more like him in regards to being single, so the distractions of familial responsibilities would not constantly sidetrack them. I believe it’s even possible to turn it into a form of idolatry too, because we all esteem family to be a noble calling, it’s so easy then for that to blind us from recognizing when it in essence becomes idol worship.
This doesn’t fit Matt Walsh’s narrative though, so he completely ignores it, instead focusing on encouraging (read: shaming) men into marrying so they can finally stop shirking their obligations to work, duty and sacrifice. It dovetails with the phenomena I continue to see in today’s churches, where men who have divorced multiple times are still treated with more respect than those who remain single. Divorce is somehow perceived as a lesser sin than a man who looks to avoid leaving behind a trail of ruined marriages and families to begin with. It’s stunning. It all stems from the stereotype that many people continue to perpetuate (whether they admit it or not), that just by virtue of marrying and having kids, this automatically validates them as being selfless, noble creatures willing to sacrifice their lives for The Greater Good, and hence morally superior to those who are single. And yet the Bible (thankfully) continues to dispute this notion. The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, marriage or not. I’m glad I serve a God who makes “no respect of persons” then, and does not judge me based on what my marital status is.
Walsh also writes:
We’re men; we’re supposed to be the leaders. We’re supposed to take the reins, not just in our families, but in society as a whole. Sure, feminism has made many in our culture hostile to masculine, assertive men, but that doesn’t mean we should just surrender and take a back seat. In truth, even most of these deluded feminists still fiercely and quietly yearn for a man who will come into their lives and be that protector and leader. These roles are natural and ingrained, fundamentally desirable to almost everyone, and it’s up to us to reassert them. Nobody will do it for us.
What an incredibly dangerous thing to say. Women have free will as well, and to assume one merely needs to be a manly man and they will all fall into line is just horrible. I’ve known men who married hoping their leadership or devout beliefs would by default create a stable marriage and family, instead they wound up divorce-raped and destitute, accused of domestic abuse, relegated to being weekend fathers, and sometimes not even seeing their children again because their ex-wives turned the kids against them. There’s nothing admirable about recklessly endangering one’s self by marrying up whoever comes along and naively believing it will all fall into place just because your intentions are good.
Is it really smart to rush into a marriage with any woman just so Matt Walsh won’t have teh sadz? Wouldn’t it be prudent to marry WISELY instead? Walsh can’t seem to wrap his mind around the possibility that GOOD marital prospects are so rare now that I firmly believe we live in a time when we must draw on God’s divine assistance to help us find a good match. Rather than try to find a match on our own (which can often be wrong because we allow emotions to cloud our judgments, and because we’re only able to form conclusions based on what we can observe), it would seem more sensible to ask God to grant us supernatural wisdom and guidance to navigate this dangerous minefield, so we don’t end up marrying the wrong person and hence destroying our lives as a result.
It’s a shame that Walsh only wants to acknowledge the symptoms rather than the cause of the family breakdown today. Once upon a time we had only the responsibilities of marriage to worry about, but now it has been corrupted by our laws, courts, entertainment and even Christian leaders who continue to launch one-sided attacks on men as the cause all and be all of everything wrong with marriage today. Is it any wonder that so many men are “going Galt” now? Only the Lord Himself can help us navigate this insanity.
So why doesn’t Matt acknowledge the evil times we live in and encourage single men to seek the Lord in prayer instead, so if we’re meant to marry, we can do so wisely and with the peace of knowing we are operating within God’s divine will? Doesn’t one prove their selflessness by putting God ahead of everything else, including marriage? Because ultimately, Walsh is ignorant of the Bible, has demonstrated little concept of who God really is, and has allowed his judgment to be shaped by the culture he lives in.
For those looking for answers, I know this much: Only God knows why we make the decisions we do, why we abstain from marriage (or not), and whether the reasons are altruistic (or not), and only He can reveal what’s truly in our hearts. It only makes sense then to seek Him for all the answers, in all earnestness, to give us wisdom in all things, and more importantly the peace in knowing we are within His will, even when the world tells us we are wrong. He will not leave us rudderless, especially in an evil time where we need His direction now more than ever.
Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
I’ve often considered myself to be a stranger in a strange land. No matter where I turned, I remained a lone square figure trying to fit into the circle of life, particularly when it comes to trying to find fellow Christians who believe as I do, where we have enough of a common bond on which to build true fellowship.
But today’s churches are so completely given over to apostasy, tossed to and fro from every wind of doctrine, that there appears to be no respite left. You must believe a certain way and conform to a religious system, or else. Any attempt to reform and fix what’s broken results in you either being shown the door or being shunned. If a corrupt system that continues to “crucify Christ to an open shame” will not change, what is left for the remnant of believers to do?
I decided I had enough of Christians, and one occasion declared them to be idiots with a diminished mental capacity and an absolute inability to discern good from evil. I was angry and admitedly painting with a broad brush, but it was instructive to see how professing Christians reacted to my rant. Rather than express sorrow that I felt the way I did, they declared my frustration to be the result of wrongfully judging Christianity based on a handful of bad micro-experiences that I had with churches. You see, they are just so awesome and wonderful, and these incidences I experienced so incredibly rare that the problem MUST be on my end. It simply couldn’t be possible that we were in the midst of an epidemic that polluted the well of Christianity to such a toxic extent that it’s hardly recognizable today. Christians today continue to eat, wipe their mouths, and insist that they have done no wickedness.
Churches have become unclean systems of cliques, corruption and heresy. The Bible makes it clear that rather than continue to participate therein, we’re to come out from among them and be separate, “and touch not the unclean thing.”
Or in essence, the religious version of going “Galt.”
Because we live in a generation that refuses to listen to reason, refuses to change, refuses to look within and viciously attacks those who dare to shine a spotlight on their evil deeds, there seems to be little recourse other than to fade into the shadows. After all, why continue to dwell where you’re not wanted?
I wondered if there was a biblical precedence for this. Are true believers operating outside of God’s will by removing themselves so completely from the picture that few even know of their existence? That certainly seems to be the life I live now. I only experience peace and closeness to God when I stay away from other Christians, as much as I can, as often as I can, living as a contemporary hermit in a cave of my own making. And while the loneliness can be wearisome at times, there is safety and tranquility within these walls. But was living this kind of life a sin?
Then I remembered Elijah’s story, who at one point had become so exasperated with the futility of his ministry that he bluntly declared that he was the Only True Believer left. That is, until the Lord told him He had preserved over 7,000 people who equally did not bow down to Baal, evidently so deeply hidden in the shadows that Elijah was completely unaware of their existence.
It makes me wonder, as quick as I am to believe I am also the Only True Believer left, how many others like me are living in their own caves as well, and if the time we spend here will also be only for a season. It is telling that while God admonished Elijah for hiding out in the mountains, He also showed kindness, gave him hope and then clear direction on what to do next. As ideal as it might have been for Elijah to have never left to begin with, it was understandable to see even an anointed prophet like him become burdened by despair and so bewildered by what he experienced that he sought respite in the mountains away from everyone and everything. It was a process he had to go through, before his faith would finally be renewed and he could move forward confidently again. I saw his experience as an example that we may not always be where God wants us to be, but He will still meet us where we are. More importantly, it underscored the wisdom of waiting for clear direction so we’re not thrusting ourselves back out into the world flailing aimlessly.
So while I appreciate my cave of solititude and respite, I hope it will give me the space I need to draw closer to God, until the time comes when I receive clear direction myself, so I can become a more profitable servant for His kingdom.