I am a Christian. I believe in the existence of a sovereign God who rules in the affairs of men for his good pleasure. The very idea of sovereignty presupposes that it is only what God has decisively planned that shall come to pass. However, no man exhaustively knows what God has specifically planned to do in any and every situation. Indeed many are cavalier about the whole concept with even fewer bothering to ascertain what this will is but only gets to find out after it has occurred.
But this is not so with the children of God who are eager to please their Father in all they do. So it is not uncommon to hear Christians asking, among others, such questions like: “What is God’s will for my life? What is God’s will concerning my prospective spouse? What is God’s will concerning my job?” The answers to these questions can be simple if believers will simply heed to God’s instructions in His word. Who do you marry? Marry a Christian. What job do you do? Get yourself a job. Don’t idle around.
Now, the frequency of this concern expressed in these musings suggests that finding the will of God is deemed very crucial or at least that is the notion I get. In an attempt to address this issue, I will be asking a series of questions and proffering my answer(s) to them in the hope of clarifying the matter.
Firstly, are we even supposed to know what God’s specific will for our lives is? I can imagine this question will take many aback because the very idea of seeking God’s will is so ingrained in us that it is taken for granted. So much so that, right from the word go, we set out to find what this will is without even bothering to establish if it is even permissible to know it in the first place. My answer is NO; we are not to ALWAYS know God’s specific will in every situation. Attempting to peek into one’s future is nothing short of soothsaying and is tantamount to prying into God’s privacy which exposes our discontent and distrust of him and that is a definite no-no!
Secondly, and following from the above, how then does one pursue what one does not (and indeed isn’t supposed to) know? Isn’t the whole exercise then rendered pointless? Not quite! God has given us his precepts in his word–the bible – defining our code of conduct and moral obligations. Even though these revealed precepts do not provide what would have been desirable specificities, they serve as guidelines giving us a fair idea of what is ultimately God’s will in any situation. Therefore continuous and consistent obedience to these precepts will most assuredly land us in God’s intended end in all situations.
Thirdly, can we ever miss God’s will? No we cannot! The very idea of sovereignty implies God has the right to do as he pleases and in fact always does what he pleases without failing so he will always see to it that his will is accomplished in our lives. Some Christians have an unfounded suspicion that it is possible to miss God’s ‘perfect’ will only to settle for his ‘second best’. Not only is this idea unscriptural but is also unconvincing.
To miss God’s will implies that God is neither sovereign nor almighty to accomplish his desires. It will also imply God has failed at something which idea is very unorthodox and heretical. Again, claiming to know God’s ‘second best’ implies one has an exhaustive knowledge of God’s will yet we know that to be impossible unless one were actually claiming divine omniscience (which no man possesses). Simply put, saying that one can miss God’s will suggests God lacks the power or forcefulness to accomplish his desire. That doesn’t paint a picture of a mighty God does it? And who would want to trust such a deity? Certainly not me!
Isn’t it absurd then to want to pursue God’s will? Why pursue what one cannot miss? It is undeniable that God’s will shall always be done whether in obedience or disobedience. To put it bluntly, one cannot not do God’s will because God is absolutely sovereign over all. Yet this truth does not warrant a nonchalant attitude on our part because God not only determines his desired ends but also the very means to attaining those ends!
Thus an active (dis)obedience of his precepts simultaneously work to the attainment of his desired ends! Some may wonder, does it then mean no one is culpable for their (in)actions? We certainly are; for how else can we call those actions “ours”? How about the notion that the inevitability of God’s will makes us nothing more than puppets in his hands? To answer this, I wonder which puppets can exercise their volition (do puppets even possess this?) to (dis)obey a command?
I realize this topic isn’t one to trifle with and I will be deluding myself if I were to claim to have figured it all out. But this one thing I know for certain that “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever”-Westminster Shorter Catechism