Updated, edited version March 1st 2013.
Many Christians spend much of their waking hours seeking, trying to find and fit into God’s will for their lives. They prefer His perfect will, but most feel like they fall short and will accept His good or acceptable will for their lives. It is hard to be at peace, searching for something that you don’t think you have, or afraid you’re going to lose. In fact trying to find and stay in God’s will, by works, seem as though you can never get the promise; because it is always just out of reach, you think your almost there, and it eludes you. That is the ministry of condemnation. (2 Cor 3:9) What drives this perpetual tail-chasing? Fear! Fear of missing God; not being good enough, falling out of fellowship, or being unqualified. The list goes on and on, with fear as the driver. It becomes a lifetime of obsessing for many, because if you’re not in His will, then you’re not right. So they spend everyday of their lives obsessing about “how to” do the right thing to be right, to please God.
When fear is the driver in our lives, we are driven by our anxieties, and worries because of unbelief, we fear missing God’s will, therefore we try to do more to please God. The law is fear based, afraid if you don’t “do” then you will not be pleasing to God. Understand this; you are the object of God’s love and affection! His desire (will) is that you discover your redeemed identity, as a result of the finished work of the cross. Christians lacking this revelation are still wandering in the wilderness of unbelief. They are still trying to find where they fit into God’s plan for their life. They are seeking acceptance, by the one who has forever accepted them. Yet because of unbelief they miss this and are fearful that God is not pleased with them.
Fear causes a “disturbance of the peace”. It will attempt to bring unrest in your life. Ex 17:8 says that Amalek fought Israel at Rephidim. Let’s look at the meaning of this scripture, it is fascinating. Amalek means labor or continuous toil (intellectual doubt that erodes our sense of belief). Rephidim means rest. Unbelief fights to unseat you from your place of rest.
The Promised Land is His rest, and notice that Heb 3:19 says, “So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” Our own unbelief keeps us wandering in the wilderness, seeking God’s will for our lives. Believing what Jesus has done for us, (the revelation of our righteousness) as a result of the finished work of the cross, this is what brings us to this place of rest! This is our promised land, where He wants us to be, and we access it by believing. It is by His grace not our self-efforts. You can exit the wilderness experience, and enter the promised land of His rest, by believing what God has said about you.
Interestingly the word agape, which is God’s perfect unconditional love, is so rich in its meaning. The very word actually implies that God’s rest is His will. I would like to share the definition of agape that I recently read: The Greek word for the love of God is agape, from agoo, meaning to lead like a shepherd guides his sheep, and pao, meaning, to rest. Wow, what an amazing Father, in Christ we have perfect redemption, which gives us His rest. If you fail through unbelief to enter His rest, you will encounter fear! Heb 3:11 and 4:3 (MT) “Oh if only they would enter into My rest.” Unbelief kept them from His rest. They died in the wilderness because of unbelief. (Heb 3:19 and 4:6) They believed a lie about themselves. (Numbers 13:33 …”and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”)
We don’t find anywhere in the Word where we are told to try to find God’s will. Most people refer to Romans 12:2 as the verse guiding us to “pursue” His good, acceptable and perfect will in our lives, creating another doctrine that just isn’t there. A clearer rendering of this verse would be: (verse 2) Do not allow current religious tradition to mold you into its pattern of reasoning. Like an inspired artist, give attention to the detail of God’s desire to find expression in you. Become acquainted with perfection. To accommodate yourself to the delight and good pleasure of Him will transform your thoughts afresh from within. (MT)
If you note the context, Paul’s discussion is the unbelief of the religious Jews of that period of time. The word “world” is the Greek word aion which is traditionally translated as “do not be conformed to this world.” Aion actually points to a period of time of specific influence. The “current religious tradition” Paul referred to, still applies today.
God’s will is; the revelation of His righteousness, (Romans 1:16-17) and renewing our minds to the good news of grace. Understanding God’s goodness and generosity toward us will change our minds radically to the very core of our belief system. Furthermore, we need to understand that there is no longer any debt between us and God; we have free, open and continual communion and fellowship with God.
Many people don’t realize just how simple this gospel is, these folks manage to complicate it into some kind of mysterious maze of endless fearful decisions. If you take a wrong turn, it may lead you to difficulty or a dead-end. They then claim they must not have heard God right. This is all done in the name of “trying to be righteous.” Christians are fearful if they make a “wrong turn” they will miss God, and lose their right standing with Him. At this point, they have gone back to works righteousness. They begin their laborious task of getting back into the will of God.
The sin conscious Christian attempts to seek His will by subtle signals they feel will lead to safe choices, free from difficulty, even paralyzing them, trying to find the right house, job, spouse, actually paralyzed with fear, through unbelief. Fearful of “missing” His will and falling short in their righteousness or maybe a better way to describe this is; falling short in their self-righteousness, or works-righteousness. After all that is what this experience has become to them, a do it yourself project.
Many begin to doubt their own diligence on seeking God’s will. Maybe they didn’t try hard enough, maybe they didn’t seek long enough, and maybe their sin prevented it? I know Christians who spent weeks making a decision, in fear that they might miss God’s will for themselves.
The motivation here is that if they can locate the “perfect will,” of God, and stay in it, they will continue to be right with Him, and everything will be fine. They are making an effort at trying to become righteous, instead of just receiving His gift of righteousness.
They try to become what God has already made them: righteous, accepted, qualified, holy, and filled to overflowing. Living in the freedom of His grace, innocent, guiltless, and extremely loved by their father.
This is the simple gospel of grace. All this “will seeking” does is twist the truth. There is no place for this struggle among Christians in the rest of God. Stop struggling, believe Jesus finished all the work for you and enter into His rest. In the Old Testament His rest was a place where everything was provided, houses they didn’t build, vineyards they didn’t plant, and wells they didn’t dig. In this new covenant rest, is it a place where everything is provided, and nothing is lacking, the work is finished!
I like this quote from Andre Rabe’s book, Adventures In Christ, page 70; “Forget about trying to find His plan for your life-Your life is His plan! Neither your location nor your timing matters-He has dawned His eternal day. You are His moment; you are His location!”
Colossians 2 tells us that our lives are hidden in Christ, in God. When we are resting in the finished work of Christ, we fully recognize that we are in Him, and resting in His will for us. I liken it to when my grandchildren are seated (His rest) in the car, (in Christ) safely and secure, they are with their daddy, and secure in His will, going where daddy takes them. They’re not fretting, nor worried because they are at the right place at the right time. They are in His rest.
Previously, I had mentioned that fear is the driver of this laborious pursuit. There is no fear in love, but perfect love cast out fear, because fear implies punishment, but he who fears has not understood God’s perfect love for them. Perfect love is Gods love for you, not you loving perfectly, because you can’t, and He does, perfectly and with great intensity. He loves you!
Don’t complicate what God has made so simple, realize your identity in Christ, and enjoy His rest. In Him you are righteous and complete. Today, be free from the worry of missing His will for you. Your worry and fear will only cause you to engage into your repair mode, disturbing your rest, thus causing you to attempt to earn your righteousness. Instead, stay in His peace, rest, and reign in life today!