Here are two things I’ve learned (or more accurately, re-learned) about the will of God recently:
1. No one else can make your decisions for you.
2. No one can guarantee how things will turn out.
Last week before we accepted the offer on our home in Tupelo, and as we pondered our own future, I told Marlene that I realized I really wished two things would happen:
1. I wanted someone else to make the decision.
2. I wanted a guarantee that things will turn out alright.
Marlene laughed when I said that because I’ve written and spoken about those very things many times over the years. Yet in the breach, that’s what I wanted anyway. I remember preaching on this many years ago in Oak Park. After the service a man came up to me and said, “We still have to decide, don’t we?” That’s right.
You go to this college and not to that one.
You take this job and not that one.
You live in this city and not that one.
You marry this person and not that one.
God never promised to make those decisions for you. He promised to guide you, he promised to be with you, he promised to help you. But he never promised to do for you what you must do for yourself.
You still have to decide.
And there are no guarantees, not even when you deep down believe you are doing what God wants you to do.
You might like that college or you might transfer.
You might love that job or you might hate it.
You may wish you hadn’t moved from Rock Springs to Downey, or vice versa.
After you get married, you may have your moments of doubt.
The best we can do at any moment of life is to take the next step in front of us. Sometimes it’s easy; other times it seems excruciatingly hard. Sometimes we feel like we’re walking off the back end of a plane at 14,000 feet. One moment you’re in the plane, the next you’re falling at 135 mph. At that point you just hope the chute opens properly.
God makes many promises about his presence with us now and in the future. But God doesn’t promise an easy road, not even when we truly believe we are doing his will.
For what it’s worth Marlene and I both feel like these major moves get harder as life rolls along. Perhaps that’s a function of being 59 and not 29. Walking with the Lord brings joy but that does not mean the decisions are easier.
Walking with the Lord means he is walking with us, right now, in this moment. When we are confused, he is not. As Job said, “He knows the way that I take.” That means he knows even when I don’t, and if that doesn’t answer every question, it does give reassurance about the most important fact.
We are not alone.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified . . . for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6).