Mm... this is such a refreshing way of looking at God's will. I'm one of those people that over-analyzes things A LOT, and then once I'm done over-analyzing, I analyze some more. The concept of "God's will" can be a confusing thing, but I've been reading a book called Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung, and I would recommend it to any Christian who might want a new or different and realistic and refreshing look at the concept of God's will. Sidenote: a few chapters ago, the author mentioned our grandparents' generation. His point was that, even just 50 or so years ago, people were not stressing over this sense of duty to figure out the one path they should take that is God's will. And if they don't take that path, they could screw up everything. 50 years ago, people lived. They lived and made choices and God's hand was in all of them, despite the fact that there weren't a million books on how to decipher God's will. Isn't that funny to think about? Our grandparents most likely lived in smaller towns (or even on farms) and most likely had fewer choices to stress over, and they most likely lived more peaceful lives because they took opportunities as they came and they didn't take months to conjure up the best way to do things "according to God's will." Heck! If Henry never married the cute little girl that worked at the candy shop, I wouldn't be here! Do you get my point? That's a very long summary of the author's point, but I thought it was great.
Ok, so when you're in a room by yourself and you hear yourself talk out loud in response to a book's eye-opening perspective, you know it's got to be important....
an excerpt from Just Do Something:
"The conventional approach [to God's will - that is, I must hear God's voice of exactly what He wants me to do before taking any step in any direction] undermines personal responsibility, accountability, and initiative. Let me give an example of what I mean by the conventional approach to the will of God undermining personal responsibility. When I got the call to come to be the senior pastor at University Reformed Church, I was happily serving as an associate pastor in northwest Iowa. It was a hard decision to come to a new church and leave a church I loved. Some people in Iowa were angry about my decision. It would have been very easy to say to people (because I've heard lines like it before): 'I love being in Iowa. If it were up to me, I would stay here. It doesn't make a lot of human sense for me to go. But as I've prayed, it's been very clear to me that this is what the Lord wants. I'm not sure I even like it. But I feel very strongly that it's God's will for me to go to East Lansing.' That could have gotten people off my case, but it would have been unfair. It wasn't God's fault I was leaving. My wife and I prayed to God a lot about the decision, and I think it was a decision that pleased him, just like He would have been pleased if we had stayed. But it was my decision. I was responsible for leaving. I chose. I decided. Yes, in the ultimate sense God already had it decided; that's always true. But it would have been wrong for me to use God's will as a way to removed my personal responsibility in the decision.
The same is true of personal accountability. We need to be careful that we aren't using God as the trump card in all our decisions. Just because you pray doesn't mean your decisions are beyond objection. I know some people talk about God's work in their lives using different phrases. But if we say 'God told me to do this' or 'God's leading me here,' this puts our decisions out of reach from criticisms or concerns. We should choose some different terminology. 'I prayed about it, and this seems best' or 'It seems like the Lord is leading' would be a more helpful way of communicating our dependence on God. We don't want 'God told me so' or God laid it on my heart' or 'It's God's will' or worse yet, 'God told me that He wants you to do such and such' to be conversation stoppers that remove accountability in decision making.
... Does that mean that God's Word has nothing to say about how we live our lives and make decisions? Of course not. But when it comes to most of our daily decisions, and even a lot of life's 'big' decisions, God expects and encourages us to make choices, confident that He's already determined how to fit our choices into His sovereign will.
.... Expecting God, through our subjective sense of things, to point the way for every decision we face, no matter how trivial, is not only impractical and unrealistic, it is a recipe for disappointment and false guilt. And that's hardly what intimacy with Jesus should be all about."