“With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (II Peter 3:8). Although this Scripture may not apply directly to God’s will, the principle still applies: His will is revealed in His time.
Granted, there are times when the Holy Spirit directs us instantly—prompting a phone call to a friend in need, or leading us to make a quick decision, but when it comes to the big picture, we sometimes only see portions of it. God often leads us through one open door at a time. “When God calls me, he makes it possible for me to move in the direction he is leading” (J.I. Packer).
For example, when I felt a deep conviction to leave an eight-year profession, I only saw glimpses of the big picture. Although it seemed very unlikely at the time, I saw myself writing books and speaking. I had no idea how it would all unfold, but I knew that I needed to have faith and trust God no matter how long it took. God began to open doors, and I walked through.
Additionally, I had peace. In the same way, you may not know exactly what you are going to do with your life, but God does. Be patient…God may lead more by withholding information than by supplying it. This can help us stay focused on the task at hand, remain obedient, and walk by faith. For example, had I known that I was going to encounter a few years of financial hardship and dig ditches for a living when I stepped away from a six-figure income, I might not have left. I only saw glimpses of His will for a reason: He wanted me to pay attention to where I was as well as where I was going. Enjoy each and every day, and don’t be in a hurry—especially when raising young children.
As you wait on God, don’t be surprised by challenges: “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair” (II Corinthians 4:8). When we are walking according to God’s will, the struggles that we encounter are not necessarily an indicator that we are out of God’s will; He may be molding us, or they may be part of an unfolding plan. God often directs by removing us from our comfort zone. He closes one door but opens another.
God strengthens and prepares us so that we can handle the weight of what He has called us to do. Figuratively speaking, you don’t see a young apple tree bear abundant fruit; the tree would collapse under the weight. We also have growing to do. There are personality issues, attitudes, and certain habits that may need to be adjusted. There is a saying in the construction business that “the deeper the foundation, the stronger the structure.” The depth of our spiritual foundation also determines how much we can carry. Don’t be frustrated; God may be building and strengthening your foundation, and aligning your will with His.
I once believed that life was easy in the center of God’s will, and if it wasn’t easy then I was out of His will. This isn’t necessarily true. Yes, we should have peace in the center of God’s will, but not freedom from difficult circumstances. At times, we may fight bouts of anxiety, depression, and fear. Many biblical heroes fought hardship and anxiety while being in the center of God’s will. How can we determine if a challenge is the result of being in God’s will, or because of disobedience?
First, ask yourself if your motives are pure and honest. Second, focus on obeying God’s Word and the convictions of the Holy Spirit. Third, seek biblical counsel and use wisdom. He will direct you one way or the other.
Again, try to see challenges as opportunities for growth. Being in the center of God’s will does not prevent challenges; it sometimes creates them. In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus tells the story of a wise man who built his house on solid rock (God’s Word), rather than on shifting sand (man’s philosophy). As a result, his house withstood the storm, but the foolish man who built his house on sand lost everything.
Remember, both men encountered the storm. Adversity comes to all of us. Expect storms, but you can weather them successfully as you look to God’s Word for the answers.
*By Shane Idleman. Additionally, here is a helpful video sermon regarding this topic, Hope for the Hurting: http://westsidechristianfellowship.org/?s=hope++the+hurting