What Went Wrong?1
Last week we began looking at God’s will. We discovered that God’s will consists of three parts: his providential will, his moral will, and his personal will. This week, we’re digging deeper into his personal will for us, and looking at ways we can better recognize what God wants us to do!
As Christians, we want God’s will to be done in our lives. But despite our commitment we sometimes end up taking another course, not because we’re rebels, but because we don’t realize we’re going the wrong way.
I first realized this truth as a 19-year-old college student. I’d bought my dream car: a brand-new 1986 Camaro. It had everything I wanted, and I looked amazing driving it!
Before I bought that car I asked God if I should make the purchase. No answer. Thinking “silence is consent,” I moved forward by applying for a loan.
Still not sure if buying the car was God’s will, I asked him to block the loan if he didn’t want me to have it. Once again, no answer! Plus, I was approved! (Back then I didn’t know that just because a bank loans money to you doesn’t mean God approves the purchase!)
When I bought the car I had a good part-time job. A year later that job went away. Unable to find employment that paid as well, I had to decide between two options: (1) quit college and work full-time to pay for the car, or (2) sell the car and stay in college. I chose the second. As a result, I lost my down payment and was left with nothing.
Only then did I think “this probably wasn’t God’s will for my life.”
You may have had a similar experience and wondered, “What went wrong?” Usually, these situations are a result of one of three common mistakes…
First, we don’t ask God.
We ask our friends what they think. We ask our family. If we’re dealing with a relationship, we watch Dr. Phil. Maybe we won’t ask anyone at all…but we read a fortune cookie at an Asian restaurant.
But we never ask God.
What we need is more than good advice…we need God advice. That’s why James wrote,
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.
– James 1:5 (NIV)
“Asking God” seems like the obvious Christian thing to do. But sometimes we have a hard time thinking about the obvious. We must train ourselves to be intentional about asking God to guide our choices. And we must be patient when waiting for his reply.
Second, we depend too much on our own logic.
The Bible says we should be alert and use our minds, but it also cautions that our thoughts can get in the way of God’s plans. If we rely only on logic, we will miss some of the most fantastic things God has in store for us.
The time Jesus fed over 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish is a great example. Talk about mind blowing! Can you imagine breaking off a piece of bread only to have another piece appear?
The biblical principle of tithing is another example. How can you give 10% of your income to God and expect the remainder to cover your needs? It defies logic, yet that’s God’s promise to us!
The Lord spoke these words to the prophet Isaiah…
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
– Isaiah 55:9 (NIV)
We can’t allow ourselves to overthink a situation. When God speaks, it’s critical that we follow his direction.
Finally, we hear what we want to hear.
We love to hear God say some things. But there are other things we don’t want to hear. Plus, listening to someone is hard work. If we’re not careful, we’ll develop “selective hearing.” Paul wrote…
For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
– 2 Timothy 4:3 (NIV)
One common theme connects all three of these mistakes: they occur when we trust ourselves more than we trust God. But the Bible says to…
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
– Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)
So, be honest! Who are you trusting more…God or yourself?
The next time you really want something, don’t be misled just because all the “dots seem to be connected.” Ask God, remember his logic is greater than yours, and follow his directions completely.