The River of God’s Will
Do you ever wonder where you stand in the will of God? Every day we make decisions concerning our life, and in many cases, the lives of our family. How do we know we are making the right decisions? What about the consequences if we are wrong? How can we know we are right?
A bad decision at the wrong time could have an earth-shattering effect on our lives, and the lives of those close to us, if we are wrong.
The Bible tells us,
“All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own.” Isaiah 53:6 (NLT)
However, we know that a correct decision can culminate in a cascade of blessings for our family and us. I was an 18-year-old Air Force Airman stationed far from home for the first time when I first seriously sought God’s will for my life. My high school sweetheart was awaiting my return as we had plans to marry. We both wanted God’s will in our life, not wanting to make a mistake that could end in divorce.
So on one hot Texas Sunday morning, I knelt in an altar and submitted my will to God’s will. I placed our plans in God’s hands and with a sincere heart asked His will in our lives. I told God that if He had other plans for our lives, or even wanted me to remain single and become a missionary, I would do it. I found out later, that at the same time, she was in the altar at our home church back in Virginia, asking God the same thing. We both submitted our wills to God, and He let us know that our marriage was His will. Thirty-six years later, we’re still blessed by staying in the center of His will.
It is imperative that we find God’s will in our life, for His will is actually what’s best for us.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)
Being in the will of God is like being in the center of a fast-flowing river.
In the center of the river the flow is strongest and fastest. The further away from the center of the river you drift, the slower and less directed the flow. You’re still in the flow, but it’s not as strong or sure.
In the center of God’s will, His guidance is strongest and most sure. But the further away from the center of God’s will you drift, the slower you move, and the guidance, direction, and protection you would have received from Him is weaker and less effective, almost indiscernible. You move from His perfect will into His permissive will, and then out of His will altogether.
Wading to the edge of the river, you eventually step out and find yourself on the shore of your pride and independence, and the river flows on without you. Likewise, stepping out of God’s will, you are on your own, left to your own devices as the will of God moves on without you. Out of the river, you try to make your way, but it’s more difficult to move forward, because there are obstacles.
You try to move parallel to the river, keeping it in sight, but there are obstacles in the path, forcing movement around them. This causes you to travel in a different direction than the river, which is now so far away that it can’t even be seen. Trying to serve or even follow God when you are out of His will becomes frustrating because of the obstacles that force movement further away from God’s plan for your life. Bad relationships, wrong career choice, poor health, lack of education, and finances are only some of the wrong roads on which you might find yourself. Subsequently, your life ends up on a wrong path or stuck at a dead end going nowhere.
My old friend decided one day to wade out from the center of the river of God’s will. He found himself interested in another woman as he waded to the edge of the river. Then he stepped out of the river of God’s will and left his wife and family. He wandered about for many months until he came to his senses and decided to return. He came back to the river, saw his place, and dove in. He swam back into the center of God’s will, returning to his family, his church, and his God. And there he remains to this day.
Now, you could make your way back to where you left the river of God’s will, try to re-enter, and find the place that was originally meant for you, but that’s not always practical. Maybe your spot in the river has already moved on, or your place was filled with another.
Do not despair! There is another place for you in the river. God’s will and plan for your life yet waits! Make your way directly to the river of God’s will at whichever point along life’s journey you now find yourself.
Get back in the river. Wade out from the shore and into the flow. Don’t be satisfied with an ankle deep, knee deep, or waist deep place in the river of God’s will.
Remember God’s Word,
“Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.” Revelation 22:1 (NLT)
Abandon yourself, head over heels, to the center of the river where the flow is strongest and most sure, flowing in the will of God.
Streams in the Desert – March 1
Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t
Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked (Eccles. 7:13).
Often God seems to place His children in positions of profound difficulty, leading them into a wedge from which there is no escape; contriving a situation which no human judgment would have permitted, had it been previously consulted. The very cloud conducts them thither. You may be thus involved at this very hour.
It does seem perplexing and very serious to the last degree, but it is perfectly right. The issue will more than justify Him who has brought you hither. It is a platform for the display of His almighty grace and power.
He will not only deliver you; but in doing so, He will give you a lesson that you will never forget, and to which, in many a psalm and song, in after days, you will revert. You will never be able to thank God enough for having done just as He has.
We may wait till He explains,
Because we know that Jesus reigns.
It puzzles me; but, Lord, Thou understandest,
And wilt one day explain this crooked thing.
Meanwhile, I know that it has worked out Thy best–
Its very crookedness taught me to cling.
Thou hast fenced up my ways, made my paths crooked,
To keep my wand’ring eyes fixed on Thee;
To make me what I was not, humble, patient;
To draw my heart from earthly love to Thee.
So I will thank and praise Thee for this puzzle,
And trust where I cannot understand.
Rejoicing Thou dost hold me worth such testing,
I cling the closer to Thy guiding hand.
“By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.” Hebrews 11:31
Suggested Further Reading: James 2:18-26
Rahab’s faith was a sanctifying faith. Did Rahab continue a harlot after she had faith? No, she did not. I do not believe she was a harlot at the time the men went to her house, though the name still stuck to her, as such ill names will; but I am sure she was not afterwards, for Salmon the prince of Judah married her, and her name is put down among the ancestors of our Lord Jesus Christ. She became after that a woman eminent for piety, walking in the fear of God. Now, you may have a dead faith which will ruin your soul. The faith that will save you is a faith which sanctifies. “Ah!” says the drunkard, “I like the gospel, sir; I believe in Christ:” then he will go over to the Blue Lion tonight, and get drunk. Sir, that is not the believing in Christ that is of any use. “Yes,” says another, “I believe in Christ;” and when he gets outside he will begin to talk lightly, frothy words, perhaps lascivious ones, and sin as before. Sir, you speak falsely; you do not believe in Christ. That faith which saves the soul is a real faith, and a real faith sanctifies men. It makes them say, “Lord, thou hast forgiven me my sins; I will sin no more. Thou hast been so merciful to me, I will renounce my guilt; so kindly hast thou treated me, so lovingly hast thou embraced me, Lord, I will serve thee till I die; and if thou wilt give me grace, and help me so to be, I will be as holy as thou art.” You cannot have faith, and yet live in sin. To believe is to be holy. The two things must go together. That faith is a dead faith, a corrupt faith, a rotten faith, which lives in sin that grace may abound. Rahab was a sanctified woman.
For meditation: Faith has to be seen to be believed (Joshua 2:17-21).
“On that day I will deal differently … where my people live … so that you will know that I, the Lord, am in this land. I will make a distinction between my people and your people.” – Exodus 8:22-23 NIV
In many ways, believers are just like nonbelievers. We all are human beings and go through the same kinds of challenges. As Jesus said, God “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45).
The message is simple: Believers are not superhuman. We all are just “jars of clay.” All our abilities are gifts from God (2 Corinthians 4:7).
This is true so nonbelievers can look at our lives and see the difference that God makes and turn to Him. Faith and belief sustain us. We can be transformed by Biblical principles. Anyone can know God. Anyone can be forgiven. Unbelievers can also see why we need to be born again.
Yet, as He sent plagues in Egypt, God promised to “deal differently” with regions where His people lived. This was to “make a distinction” between His people and others, making sure there was no question that He was God, and they were His.
He was demonstrating that there are ways in which God treats His people “differently.” The fact is that we are different because of our relationship with Him. He makes the difference.
Today, seek the differences that God can make in your life. Apply the principles in His Word. Pray. Commit your needs to Him. Get to know Him more intimately. Be filled with His Spirit. Trust Him.