“Lord Jesus, I need insight. The ball’s in your court. I don’t know what else to do.” He didn’t even say Amen—and didn’t notice that he had failed to properly conclude his prayer of resignation. It was the second shortest prayer he had ever prayed. The first was uttered three weeks ago: “Lord, I need help!”
Putting the dog’s food down, he finds something to drink, picks up his reading, and settles into his chair, but he’s distracted. He thinks again, All I want is a yes or no, nothing fancy like handwriting on the wall. I guess God has something else in mind. I don’t know though. Just don’t know.
Only time could lay the proper groundwork to this point. Only now is he weaned from his methods, his ideas, his analysis, and his means learned and sophisticated to discover God’s will.
He looked again at his book, a thin work by Tim Hansel. The words catapult off the page: “How do we know if it is the Lord speaking? The only answer I know is to become very familiar with His voice by spending time with Him.”
When he was out of resourcefulness for enticing God, questioning God, and leveraging Him, God spoke. He didn’t exactly feel prepared for the message, but his heart was ready to hear. His thoughts assembled, I’m shortchanging myself and God by limiting our interaction to a black and white, yes or no, mechanical exchange. God wants me to know Him, not know about Him. He wants time. He wants time with me for me to get to know Him.
He thought more deeply. He thought about his friends. For many of us the motivation to search for God’s will is to get the right answers so we don’t make mistakes. If we can just do his will then we won’t have to worry about being in the wrong place, backtracking from a poor decision, suffering failure, or struggling to make the right decisions when every indicator is clouded with ambiguity. He pondered this for a moment. More thoughts bubbled up. If we can just find God’s will we won’t have to fear unpleasant consequences or dread the decision-making process or, sad to say, have to put forth the effort required to build a relationship with God.
He turned the book over in his lap and leaned his chair back. He didn’t like where his thoughts were taking him, but he knew he was on an important path. Understanding God’s will is not a matter of playing my cards right. It’s not like looking something up with the right search terms, saying the right words, or acting just the right way. He thought about this, felt the satisfaction of seeing through the fog that had engulfed him, but felt as well the heaviness of knowing he had missed God trying to query Him. God isn’t a dispensary, he thought. His will is wrapped up in His being. When I communicate with Him, I’ll get to know Him, I’ll know His voice and I’ll know His will.
Yes, there is the biblical story of Gideon laying out the fleece in order to find God’s will. He knew what to do, but what have you gained relationally if all you hold in your hand is a wet fleece? You have an experience to relate, but you don’t know God any better.
Knowing God. Just the idea is intimidating and inviting at the same time. God is all knowing. His will is perfect and indomitable. If the goal is to literally determine God’s exact and perfect will, we should all sit still until we are certain we’ve heard from God. Even though this logic is flawless and reasonable, there remains one problem: This isn’t the way God wants it.
Perhaps the term “God’s will” miscommunicates the heart of God’s desire. Maybe “God’s ways” more accurately conveys what He wants us to know.
As an employer I can make my will known to a new employee within the first hour of their first day. However, it will take that employee considerably longer to know my ways. But once he knows them, he will have great insight into my will.
If I asked you if you know me, you might say, “Why, yes. You’re the eldest of four brothers born to Bill and Anabel Gillham. You are a writer, a guide to organizations and leaders, and a conference speaker. You ride a bike and fly fish and have a garden.”
All of this is true. But these are just informative things about me. There are lots of folks who know about me and what I do. I have acquaintances spanning the globe and a fair number of friends, but I count my confidants and close friends on one hand. These are the people who know me and my ways. They know my hopes and dreams. To them I have bared my soul and opened my heart.
God does not intend to be intimidating. He wants to be called “Father.” Knowing Him is not presumptuous. It is His idea, His invitation.
Discovering God’s will is more profound than doing the right things as a result of hearing God express His wishes. Knowing God’s will is really an invitation from God to discover His ways, discern His heart, listen to His dreams, understand His thoughts, and see through His eyes. If you have sat with God as He bared His soul and revealed His dreams, questions about His will become much less daunting and mysterious because you know Him more deeply than His will can reveal.
Sitting forward in his chair, he put the bookmark back in his book and placed it on the table. He turned off the lamp and reflected: Through time spent—reading, walking, listening, talking, discussing—I will know Father God and recognize His voice, understand His ways, and know His heart. We will form a bond, a bond like close friends enjoy. He pondered this and shaking his head realized, In seeking to know God’s will, I nearly missed Him.