When traveling on a freeway or even a residential road, you will at some point see a sign that points you into the direction that you want to go. With each moment of travel there is always a destination, however, it involves making a turn that will put you closer or perhaps further away from where you intend to go. For example, it is easy to miscalculate by turning too soon, or by not turning soon enough.
As a result, you may end up lost or further behind in reaching your destination. There are also moments in which we think that we can get to our ending point in our own way, but it may turn out to be a path that creates a loss in productivity and time. Spiritually speaking, we can travel in a direction that is planned by God, or we can travel in our own direction.
If you and I travel in our own direction, it will always lead us astray and we are then no longer in God’s will. How do we know what God’s will is for our lives? A great example of this can be found in the book of Genesis. Chapter 15 is where the Lord gives Abraham a promise which is that Abraham would be the Father of many nations.
It was promised in verses 4-5 of chapter 15. Abraham (whose name was originally Abram) is one of the great Biblical Patriarchs who God would use in order to establish the line that Jesus Christ would later come through. However, in the first portion of chapter 15, God says the following to Abraham:
(NLV) “After these things, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a special dream, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your safe place. Your reward will be very great.” Then Abram said, “O Lord God, what will You give me? For I have no child. And the one who is to receive what belongs to me is Eliezer of Damascus.” Abram said, “Because You have not given me a child, one born in my house will be given all I have.””
It is clear in these verses, that Abraham’s concern or desire was to have a child at some point. Abraham also states that all of his belongings would be given to Eliezer who was already within Abraham’s house. Eliezer was a relative of Abraham.This meant that by default, Eliezer would be granted an inheritance despite the fact that he is not Abraham’s biological son.
God then makes a promise to Abraham in verses 4-6:
(NLV) “Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This man will not be given what is yours. But he who will come from your own body will be given what is yours.” He took him outside and said, “Now look up into the heavens and add up the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then He said to him, “Your children and your children’s children will be as many as the stars.” Then Abram believed in the Lord, and that made him right with God.”
Essentially, it was God’s will that Abraham have offspring because God had promised it. In verse 6 it says that Abraham then believed what God had told him, and it put him in the correct standing with God. The principle to be gained from verse 6 is that when we hear what God has promised us, and we accept it as His will for our life, then we are in the right position to be blessed by God.
However, we will see later in the book of Genesis that there is a scheme to circumvent God’s original plan for a child. In chapter 16, Abraham laments the position that he is in as it relates to not having an heir. In this chapter, Sarah, Abraham’s wife (whose original name was Sarai) is introduced in verse 1.
It is because of Abraham’s lack of an heir and the fact that Sarah had not borne a child that Sarah decided to come up with her own plan. Chapter 16 indicates that Sarah decided that it would be best for her maid or servant Hagar to bear the child that Abraham and Sarah desired.
Abraham agrees with Sarah, and eventually Hagar gives birth to a child who is named ‘Ishmael.’ Once again, it wasn’t God’s will for Abraham to have an heir through anyone else but his wife Sarah. If you look at chapter 17 in verse 16, God specifically says that a child will be born from Sarah’s womb. However, Abraham hearing God’s promise that he and Sarah would bear a son laughs to himself. Notice the exchange between Abraham and God in verses 17-19:
(NLV) “Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed. He said to himself, “Will a child be born to a man who is 100 years old? Then Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live before You!” But God said, “No, but your wife Sarah will give birth to your son. And you will give him the name Isaac. I will make My agreement with him and for his children after him, an agreement that will last forever. “
The point to be made is that God’s will is not only perfect, but His will can be known if we are truly seeking to please Him. The problem with Abraham and Sarah is that they did not align themselves with God’s will. In their case, it was due to unbelief that God had the supernatural power to grant them a son even as they were both approaching the age of 100.
You and I can understand God’s will for our life by listening to God for His will and His direction. This is what Abraham and Sarah failed to do. While they both heard what God had promised, neither were willing to surrender or adhere to God’s proclamation. Thus, it caused a setback for Sarah and Abraham because they lost time in the process of attempting to solve the problem on their own.
When you desire to know God’s will for your life, you must be willing to obey His commands, which means that you are willing to follow. Regardless of how strange or erroneous God’s will may sound to you, it is imperative to take His word over your own desires. When you do so, you will find that the outcome of your obedience is fruitful and time will not be wasted.
Secondly, you can know God’s will by hearing the voice of others in your life who are operating out of godly wisdom. God will often use others to confirm what His will is for your life. Even in the Bible, there were instances in which an Angel sent from God would deliver a message to a specific individual. Usually, the message concerned the person’s destiny or proclamation that God had spoken over their life. So, there will be times in which God will give prophetic words through someone else, and they may be unlikely.
A final way that we can understand God’s will is through God’s peace. There is peace that surpasses all understanding when we are in His will. Whenever you are doing something outside of God’s will there is conflict. One example in the passage concerning Sarah and Abraham involves Hagar. In verse 4 of chapter 16, the Bible says that when Hagar saw that she was pregnant with Abraham’s child, she began to hate Sarah.
Hagar was Sarah’s servant, but as a result of Hagar’s hatred, Sarah began to defend herself by creating difficult interactions with Hagar. As a result, Hagar eventually left Sarah. The fact is that Sarah and Abraham’s decision created turmoil which meant there was a lack of peace. This was despite the belief that having a child outside of God’s will would solve the problem. So, it is important for those of us who are following Christ, to recognize the peace that comes from being in God’s will but to also recognize potential chaos that occurs when we do anything apart from God.
Overall, we who are in Christ must be willing to seek the Lord and obey His commands so that we are in His will. When we are insistent upon our own way, then the result is usually negative. The lesson that we can take from Sarah and Abraham is to take God at His word and to allow Him to lead us to the appropriate destination.
For those of you who are not in Christ, you are unable to discern what God’s will is for your life. Perhaps you have your own plan and design that you believe to be the best way to live. The unfortunate part is that any plan that you have outside of God’s will does not and will not lead to success. Success defined in Christ is a life that is lead by the Holy Spirit, which means that you are able to live freely under God and have a life filled with joy.
If you don’t know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, today is the day to surrender to Christ. Believe in your heart that Jesus died on the cross, and accept Jesus as your Lord, and repent of your sins. In doing so, you will gain the first step to knowing what God’s will is for your life.