By David Wong, 21, Singapore
“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” —Deuteronomy 29:29 (niv)
“O God, I feel attracted to him (in my case, her), and I think he’s a great godly guy, but is he the one for me? Please impress upon my heart what I should do.”
“Father, I just got my results, and I don’t know which college I should go to. Please tell me what I should do!”
If you’re eager to live a life that pleases God, then at some point of time in your life, I believe you would have prayed these types of prayers before. In fact, you may have just uttered a prayer like that during your last quiet time! All too often, as Christian eager to live life according to God’s will, we desire to know His will. And this is not consigned only to relationships and schools. We pray for God to reveal to us what ministry we should serve in, which church to go to, what job we should apply for, etc.
I think it is good that we as Christians desire to live in the will of God. However, does God really want us to be asking Him what choice we should choose at every point of decision? Do we really need to get a resounding and affirmative “YES!” before we take the plunge and make a decision? In his book, Just Do Something—A Liberating Approach To Finding God’s Will, Kevin DeYoung writes:
“If God has a wonderful plan for my life, as the evangelistic tract tells us, then why doesn’t He tell me what it is? . . . I’d like us to consider that maybe we have difficulty discovering God’s wonderful plan for our lives because, if truth be told, He doesn’t really intend to tell us what it is.
And maybe we’re wrong to expect Him to.”
Could it be that perhaps God intends for us to make a decision for ourselves—whom to marry, which course to take, what ministry to serve in, etc.? I agree with you that we should be praying and seeking to live life according to God’s will. I also agree with you that God has someone out there planned for you. But is it possible that God may not actually tell you what to do, and expect you to decide for yourself?
When I first encountered such a “liberating approach to finding God’s will” in one of my youth services, I balked at that idea, and considered the speaker who preached it to have a low-view of the sovereignty of God. But as I read DeYoung’s book on the nature of God’s will, and stumbled upon Deuteronomy 29:29 within the context of discovering God’s will, things began to take a different slant.
Consider with me first the sovereignty of God over all things. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care” (Matthew 10:29); “My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please” (Isaiah 46:10b). God controls and wills all things. His purposes will stand. Nothing can stop His plan. Thus in one sense we cannot live outside of God’s sovereign will.
Next, consider with me some aspects of God’s revealed will in the Bible—where we read clear instructions on what He wants us to do. It says in 1 Thessalonians 4:3, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified . . .” and in Romans 8:29, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image ofHhis Son . . ..” And 2 Corinthians 6:14 commands, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.”
This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but if you look at it, instead of telling us exactly what choices to make, God gives us certain principles to follow and live by.
Now here is where it all comes together: “The secret things (God’s sovereign or absolute will) belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed (God’s revealed will, i.e. what the Bible says) belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29).
Let this just sink in for a moment.
God does not intend to reveal to us His sovereign purposes before we actually do them. He gives us principles to live by, and if we are living by them, whatever choices we make—be it between different colleges; between an economics or literature major; between serving in the worship or evangelism ministry—it will be His will. For God is directing behind the scenes, working in us “to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose” (Philippians 2:13). This, however, does not negate the importance of praying for wisdom (Proverbs 2:1-6; James 1:5-8) and seeking godly counsel (Proverbs 1:5, 12:15, 15:22, 19:20) from people like pastors, mentor, fellow Christian friends, and yes, parents (especially in decision concerning relationships!).
To end off, I shall leave you with another quote from DeYoung’s book, which was the inspiration behind this article:
But while we are free to ask God for wisdom, He does not burden us with the task of divining His will of direction for our lives ahead of time . . . God does have a specific plan for our lives, but it is not one that He expects us to figure out before we make a decision. I’m not saying God won’t help you make decisions (it’s called wisdom . . .). I’m not saying God doesn’t care about your future. I’m not saying God isn’t directing your path and in control amidst the chaos of your life. I believe in providence with all my heart. What I am saying is that we should stop thinking of God’s will like a corn maze, or a tightrope, or a bull’s-eye, or a choose-your-own-adventure novel.
So let us not abuse His love by failing to pray and choosing to live for yourself. At the same time, let us be freed to live God’s will for our life.