"Do now, do now, what you will wish to have done when your moment comes to die." [St. Angela Merici]

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

5 Clues to Help You Know if You Are in God’s Will

By Micky Wolf


a plan for action; an indefinite or unformed conception;
a formulated thought or opinion

(Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Ever wonder where your “ideas” originate? Does it matter who or what is the source? Most definitely, and here’s why: they are a dime a dozen, and if you truly desire to follow God’s will in your life rather than your own, being on the same page will serve you—and Him—much better in the long run.

Having spent a fair amount of my life running about and doing, I can assure you that paying attention to a few details before you ever take a step is well worth the time. Why? Because the end result of knowing the who may well be the difference between experiencing the sustained joy that comes with being obedient and serving God, or floating through the fleeting happiness and satisfaction of personal achievement or gain. The difference, fellow traveler, turns on the heart-reality of a mere five words: “…Jesus, the author and finisher…” (Hebrews 12:2)

When we have a clear sense Jesus is the one who desires to begin something, we can rest in the peace of knowing he comes alongside until it is finished—and it will never matter how many obstacles we encounter, how high the peaks, or the depth of the valleys.

Clue Number 1:

The plan we may be considering for action seems nearly impossible. Good. If you had all the details, all of the steps, and most of the resources (people and stuff) beforehand, why would you need to trust God? 

There is no doubt we are surrounded at every turn with various formulas for how to be successful in business, which too often includes Christian ministry. We are reminded again and again that good leaders have detailed sets of plans before any action occurs. Isn’t it interesting, however, that some of the most successful companies are led by people who value openness and flexibility and do everything possible to create an environment which encourages taking risks, along with a willingness to embrace the unknown?

As Christians, Scripture exhorts us to “count the cost” (Luke 14:28) but at the same time, reminds us that “man plans and God laughs” (Psalms 2:4). A lack of responsible planning on our part can lead to unpleasant consequences, yet thinking things to death may actually result in a similar outcome. Who knows how many Spirit-prompted ideas have ended up side-tracked or totally derailed because of a disregard for the wisdom in both perspectives?

Clue Number 2:

When the idea begins to stir, you sense an interior resistance. Good. Resistance can be a blessing in disguise to help us understand if we are about to attempt something in our own strength rather than relying on God. There is a subtle but important difference between the two which can be discovered by allowing the Lord to show us our motivations. 

I often hear Christians associate “having peace” as a clear indication they are living in the Lord’s will. No problem here. On the other hand, the real challenge is discerning if the peacefulness is little more than a sense of feeling good in the moment as reason enough for moving ahead. Authentic, Christ-centered peace truly surpasses any human understanding, and at the same time, is so convicting there is little need to try and explain it, other than to simply say yes to God.

Clue Number 3:

An idea worthy of being acted upon will generate enthusiasm, in the one who conceives it, as well as in others with whom it is shared. Yes. And no. If we put too much emphasis on the importance of the “wow factor”, we may end up with a good case of the blues before we ever step foot from the room.

It can be very easy to get caught up with the excitement of a new idea, especially in the beginning—which  is not to say having fun or being enthused means you are in the flesh and not in the Spirit. However, the greater Truth is accepting the reality that some of God’s best ideas have little to do with how we think and feel. In Truth, His ideas may not necessarily be our first choice. Or for that matter, have a place on any of our lists.

Clue Number 4:

Good ideas make sense, which is how we know they originated with God. Not so quick. How do you define good? How do you determine what makes sense? One the biggest mistakes we can make when it comes to making choices,  is believing our knowledge, wisdom, insight, or overall maturity as a Christian is sufficient to answer these two important questions.

When we don’t take the time for prayer and reflection and allow God to search our hearts, we may find ourselves slipping and sliding down the slope of prideful determination rather than journeying ahead on the path of Spirit-led direction and guidance. It is important to acquire knowledge and behave with maturity. At the same time, we need to remember God alone is the best judge of our strengths and weaknesses. Our attempts to decide which ideas make good sense will always be affected by our inability to be totally objective about our thoughts and opinions.

Clue Number 5:

If an idea originates with a person we know well, or emerges within a group we are part of, it is more likely of the Spirit. Maybe. Maybe not. 

To put the whole of our hope and trust in one person or group simply because of the people we know or the community we share can lead to frustration of all description, along with a bundle of disappointments and broken dreams. The darker side of familiarity can be a tendency to miss details that might otherwise need our attention, for the best reasons. While we need to be respectful of others, especially those who impact our life in positive and loving ways, we must always remember titles and associations are not to be our preeminent consideration.

Certain Beginnings and Peaceful Endings…

We could have all the clues in the world—or from the Heavenlies for that matter—and still not be one hundred percent assured our ideas are truly divinely inspired. We can get close, but only as we persevere to continue developing our intimate relationship with our Creator God.

Maybe one of the best clues we can wrap our hearts and actions around is contained in our response to the following question: for every idea (thought, conception or opinion) we have or encounter, does it have, as its basis in action, a Christ-centered expression of God’s Love, Mercy, Grace and Compassion? If we can answer yes—while carrying with us all our unanswered questions—we may well be on our way to living and loving from the rest place of His perfect will.

Is the who or the where of an idea a priority for me?

Do I tend to disregard seemingly impossible ideas? Why?

When I feel resistance do I stop in my tracks, or go deeper with God?

Is the level of excitement a barometer for my own enthusiasm?

If an idea makes sense am I more willing to support it?

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