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The Best Way to Discover God's Will

Ann Spangler
Ann Spangler

an image of a clock drawn on blueprint paper

Nowhere in the Bible does God lay down a complete blueprint for anyone’s life. He didn’t take Abraham aside, for instance, and tell him,

“I want you to marry your half-sister Sarah, and then the two of you will move to a land that will someday be called Israel, but a famine will cause you to move to Egypt, and then you will bring back a slave girl by the name of Hagar who will bear you a son and there will be great strife in your household because of arguments between Sarah and Hagar and their children, and then I will ask you to sacrifice Isaac and to turn Ishmael out into the wilderness, and then you will acquire great riches, and then Sarah will die and you will remarry, and finally you will live to a ripe old age and three great religions will trace their beliefs to you.”

True, God did disclose some things to Abraham over a period of time, but there was much that Abraham simply didn’t know about how life would unfold.

Surprisingly, the Bible doesn’t offer a lot of guidance about our future, though it does offer considerable guidance about how we should conduct ourselves in the present. One thing Abraham did know was what God wanted him to do in the present, and, to his credit, he did it. To seek to know the future in detail would be like a first-year algebra student demanding to move straight from solving two-step equations to partial-fraction decomposition.

It just won’t work.

As Jerry Sittser points out, God has a plan for our lives. But he doesn’t disclose it to us too far in advance:

“We will discover that plan, however, by simply doing the will of God we already know in the present moment. Life will then gradually unfold for us. We will discover at just the right time what we need to know and do. . . . We will discern God’s will as naturally as we learned how to walk—one step at a time.”1

 

  1. Jerry Sittser, The Will of God as a Way of Life (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004), 39-40.
 
Originally published July 18, 2017.

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