I recently finished reading the second book of Francine Rivers' Mark of the Lion series (I love the series so far!), and as I read about the developments in one of the character's life, my conscience was struck with the realization that I do not know for certain if I am doing God's will. In the book, the character of Phoebe pours herself out and wears herself down while caring for poor widows and their families. She visits them everyday, sews new clothing for them every night, and brings them food, money, and love. However, though noble and good, this is not God's will for her at this time. Eventually, Phoebe suffers a stroke, becomes paralyzed on one side of her body, and can no longer communicate by talking, yet she is still fully aware. It is in this state that she truly understands and accepts God's will for her, which is to pray unceasingly for her two children who rejected God and live lives that no mother would want for her children. Before the stroke, Phoebe was too busy and too fatigued from her work with the poor to pray for her children. I think she subconsciously used her work to distract her from facing the messed up state of her children's lives, thus avoiding and failing to pray for them when they needed it most.
We so easily get distracted! This is especially true here in the U.S. Our lives our busy and filled with excess. Not only that, but we are told to seek our own; the media is full of messages that we are number one, our needs are first, and we can fill our needs by doing x, y, and z. In response to this, God may choose to take us by the shoulders and plunk us down into situations (possibly not as serious as a stroke!) where we have no choice but to be redirected. This may be frustrating and confusing at first, but then often we have that "Ahhh, yeah, ok, I get it God" moment. God did not have to "redirect" me for me to come to the realization that I don't truly know if I am doing God's will. I don't know his will because I havn't asked him recently. I felt God leading me in his will a couple of months ago and so I started down that path, but I haven't consulted him since! I've just gone on my merry little way, asking for help and guidance with certain things, but never pausing long enough to actually listen to God. How could God give me guidance when I would not be lead? Yes, God is all powerful and he could sit me down and tell me how it is, but that is not his nature. From the beginning he's given us choices and he's let us make them for better or for worse.*
In order to follow and carry out God's will we must seek his will. It doesn't work to go about our daily lives focused on ourselves and only pay attention to Him when life gets bumpy. We are called to a greater purpose. If I truly desire to know God's will, then I must have both eyes open wide and see beyond myself. I must seek God every single day so that I can be filled up with his Holy Word (Matthew 4:4), which brings wisdom, truth, lasting joy, peace, comfort, protection, and displays God's unceasing love. With my eyes open and the armor of God on, I can go and do God's good and perfect will--with his help of course! Romans 12:2 "2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."
Don't know if you're doing God's will? A pastor once told me that you know if you are doing God's will if you are "bearing fruit," for this is what Christ appointed us to do (John 15:16 and Romans 7:4). There are two main thoughts on what Jesus and Paul are referring to when they say to "bear fruit." One thought, is that when we bear fruit we will possess the fruits of the spirit "22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."(Galatians 5:22-23) So in this case we will know if we're doing the will of God if these qualities make up who we are. The other thought is that to bear fruit is to show God's light to the lost, so that they may see and believe and no longer be lost, but be adopted as sons and daughters of God (Romans 8:23)--this would be bearing fruit for God's harvest "36Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together." John 4:36. This "harvest" is God claiming as his own, thus granting eternal life, all who claim Jesus as their savior. I believe that both of these thoughts are what it means to bear fruit as both work perfectly together. The first step to bearing fruit is to give up control and completely trust in the Lord 7 "But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. 8 He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit." Jeremiah 17:7-8
Father God, I am sorry for not seeking your will but instead selfishly and ignorantly always following my own. Help me not to deceive myself by pretending to seek your will just so that I can put a "check mark in the box." Instead, let me seek after you with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my mind, and with all my strength. I will need your help in doing this Lord! I am so easily distracted! Let it be as it is in the prayer you taught us to pray, "Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven." Wow! If your will was done on earth as it is in heaven, earth would be unrecognizable! It would be a utopia where unselfish love for one another would abound. Help me to seek you in whatever I do, for it is my desire to glorify you and you alone will sustain me, you alone can give me my deepest desires. Thank you for banishing worry and fear, thank you for giving me peace and purpose, thank you for your absolute faithfulness and love. All glory be to you, in Jesus name, Amen.
34"My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work." John 4:34
*Because he loves us he doesn't force us to do anything, but rather leads us using the Bible, and the circumstances were faced with, some disciplinary, are all to his glory, all to refine us and make us more like him.