Soli Deo Gloria: For the Glory of God Alone
Posted: Thursday, September 29, 2011 2:42 pm
The Messenger, September 29, 2011
Thy Our Guide, Part 1
By CAMILLE KENDALL
Special to The Messenger
Every one of us faces huge decisions in life, decisions with significant implications for ourselves, our families and the world around us. Christians dedicated to living out their faith in practical ways desire to make right decisions. Facing a fork in the road, we long to know the path God desires us to take: What is God’s will for me?
In his book “Knowing God,” J.I. Packer describes two obstacles to our knowing the will of God. First, if we have a wrong understanding of God, we may assume that He is impersonal, distant or disengaged from the details of our daily lives. If God is some cosmic spiritual force, existing “somewhere out there” and watching us disinterestedly “from a distance” (in the words of a popular song), we will have difficulty imagining that God can or will communicate with us personally. How can a benevolent fog speak with precision into the details of my life?
Secondly, many professing Christians are uncertain of their ability to receive God’s guidance: I know that God is personal and that He desires to communicate His will to me, but what if I fail to discern what that will is? What if God can’t get the message through to me?
The first problem — that of an impersonal God who either cannot or will not communicate with His creation — can be addressed by studying God as He presents Himself in Scripture. In the book of Exodus, God refers to Himself as I AM, an emphatic statement of existence, in the first-person singular. He is a distinct being, not an impersonal force or some vague ethical energy source. While it was once said that “All roads lead to Rome,” it is not true that all faiths lead to God: If the god you serve is not a personal god, then he is not the God of Scripture and is, in fact, no god at all.
But maybe, like me, you face the second struggle: I know that God is real and that He knows me intimately, but how does God address my uncertainties concerning His will? We must begin by resting in the assurance that God indeed has a plan for each of His children. Think of Moses, appointed by God to deliver the nation of Israel from their bondage in Egypt. Think of the prophet Jeremiah, to whom God spoke, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5).
Think of Paul, who described himself as an apostle “by the will of God.” Shortly after Paul’s conversion, he was told by Ananias, “The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard” (Acts 22:14-15).
Think of Jesus: His whole purpose on earth was to do the will of His Father. “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work” (John 4:34). Jesus knew that God had a plan and a purpose for Him, and He accomplished exactly what God sent Him to do.
God had a plan for Moses, for Jeremiah, for Paul and for Jesus. He has a plan for each one of His children — including you and me.
Thankfully, God is also perfectly able to communicate that plan to us. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you” (Psalm 32:8). Isaiah says to those who repent and obey, “The LORD will guide you continually…” (Isaiah 58:11a).
Is it possible for me to know God’s will for my life? Scripture says “Yes.” “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). Again, in Romans 12, verse 2: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
There is a plan, and I can know what it is. Next week:How?
Editor’s note: Camille Kendall is a wife, home school mom and redeemed sinner who celebrates the family of Christ at Grace Presbyterian Church (www.graceunioncity.com).