Photo courtesy Morguefile.com
I took my dad shopping recently. One of the items he wanted was some regular skin lotion from a particular brand. When we got into the isle where lotion was located, we found his favorite brand. But we were presented with multiple choices other than “regular” or “just plain lotion.”
There was skin lotion with aloe, vitamin E, cucumber, natural oatmeal, and on and on. But nothing that my dad could figure out. He just wanted skin lotion with nothing added. He didn't want to buy something he wasn't sure he wanted.
In our society we celebrate the ability to make choices. We think we want to be able to have anything, with the latest features and gadgets. We want our options. And we want them now. And we assume this is what we mean by the word freedom.
It is true that freedom allows us to make decisions. But it also means that we have the freedom to succeed or fail. Freedom is not a guarantee of success, nor is it an absolute.
So what does this have to do with
discerning God's will?
Let's say you are a Christian who wants to get married. But you want to find the right mate of course. (You know what I mean. The mate God has for you.) So, you look for signs of God's guidance. When you feel God is leading you to someone, you marry what you believe to be the person God wants you to have.
But then you find the person you married doesn't share your faith or values. And it's becoming a source of great conflict. And then you meet someone else. And this person is your real soul mate. Now you feel you've missed the “will of God.” So now you feel stuck because you failed to discern God's leading. Or worse, you feel God wants you to divorce and marry the other person.
Here's the problem. God's will is contained in his Word, not in our feelings. And success or failure is defined by God, not by what we perceive. Since we are responsible for our choices, we need to make a wise choice. There's no need to deviate from what God says is good and right. We just need to pay attention. Then make the best choice we can, having faith that God will be with us and guide us.
Following, we also need to define success the way God would. Not in the way we feel. When it comes to certain decisions like marriage, some of us may be better off letting a wiser older Christian pick a mate for us.
I know, we recoil at the idea of giving up any of our freedoms to choose. But it is much better than relying on feelings or impressions.
And, by the way, my dad picked out another brand of lotion that had a plain version. Problem solved.