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Jun 09, 2008

God Will Hunting

About three years ago, I was speaking at a Church in the Midwest and after I had finished, a woman in the congregation approached. She had that "look" in her eyes as she was walking towards me and I knew immediately what she was looking for. The first few moments were awkward and predictable. She stood before me silently as if she were testing my prophetic abilities to see if I could see what her problem was in the spirit before she even told me. Finally she broke the silence and flat-out asked me if I had a word from the Lord for her.

You can't imagine the pressure this puts upon a preacher. Most of us are struggling to hear God's voice for ourselves without having to also hear Him for everyone else who crosses our paths. She wanted to know if I knew "God's will" for her life. Should she move to Kansas City or to North Carolina? She had been praying and fasting for the answer and now she was standing in front of "the man of God" hoping to get it. All I kept thinking was Hawaii, Fiji, or Belize. I mean if you're gonna move, why not go there?? I guess my two-way radio to God was broken that day because I didn't have the answer for her. I did however ask her a question that held within it the answer for which she was searching:

"What do you want to do"?

It seemed so fleshy and selfish. The question went against everything this woman had been taught. Surely THAT had nothing to do with it. In fact, what she wanted was most assuredly the very opposite of what God had planned for her. To even dare to consult one's self is outright wrong. The look on her face as she began to answer my question told me that she was feeling a bit naughty and adventurous at the thought of exploring what was in her heart. It was forbidden territory - perhaps even uncharted for this particular woman. Nevertheless, she treaded lightly through a list of things of which she had been dreaming for over 30 years. In a "confessional-booth tone," she cautiously related to me the things she secretly dreamed of doing with her life, places she wanted to see, occupations she wished she could have taken.

She spoke in a whispering tone that reminded me of someone confessing their deepest secrets to a trusted friend in private. Her eyes darted back and forth in an effort to make sure no one in the room was eavesdropping on our conversation. When she was finished, her eyes had an innocent sparkel to them like I had seen in my little girls during the Disneyland Electric Light Parade. She was energized and full of life. Her countenance had changed from stressed and nervous, to peaceful and fulfilled. I felt like we needed to share a cigarette together right there in the Church foyer.

Within just a few seconds, I watched the stress and worry return to her face as she left the "fantasy" of her heart's desires there at the altar and returned to her religious reality. She began to recite to me the pattern of her life since she met the Lord. It went a lot like what I've heard from thousands of Christians over the years. The Lord called her to move to this town or that and told her to start a certain ministry and go to a particular church and serve a specific pastor. Then He told her to sell her house and move to another town to go to school for a year, only to quit before graduation and move up north to start an outreach. The Lord was now telling her to uproot her family and move away for about the sixth time and she was awaiting further instructions, terrified that she might find herself "out of His will." From day to day, this woman literally ran from thing to thing in an effort to keep up with God's ever-changing will. She was even afraid to pick out a dress at Target without consulting the Lord first. Everything in this woman's life was about staying in God's will. Seeking Gods will at any given time had become a fulltime job, and the stress of it was clearly killing her.

Freedom from the "will" chase

It's interesting to me that the one thing that separates us from the animal kingdom has become the one thing our religion has used to strangle us. We have become a generation of people who have been taught to completely ignore our heart's will. We religiously put our hands over the mouth of our will and snuff out our heart's desires in an effort to hear God's will. We assume that the two are surely at odds with one another because of all the testimonies we had heard from people over the years. Life becomes an endless guessing game with eternal consequences. At every turn, we are faced with a series of doors from which to choose, and behind only one of those doors is the Will of God. We are even taught that we will never know or hear God's will for our lives until we deny or "die to" our own will. Many people have learned to live in fear of accidently falling out of God's will. Preachers talk about the possibility of it happening and the danger that lies in wait for anyone it happens to. There are books, teaching series and entire seminars on how to know the will of God for our lives and amazingly it still continues to be a best selling topic in the Christian church. 

Why would God create man with "free will" and then impose His will upon us at every turn? Does God really have a will for what color car we buy or what style of clothes we choose to wear? If we have two job offers, does He have a will as to which one we should take or is it OUR decision? Can we fall out of God's will?

Who in the New Testament ever worried about being out of His will? Why has this subject become so exaggerated today?

When God brought the animals to Adam for him to name, did God have a will for each animal's name that Adam had to somehow be in tune to? Was it Adam's choice or God's? Is the Christian life really about finding God's will for every little thing in our lives? Why would we have choices if we were supposed to ultimately make God's choice? Did He really put us here to constantly test us to make sure we are willing to drop everything that matters to us and submit to His will at any cost? Did He give us choice only for the purpose of seeing whether or not we'd give it up for Him? Is God really that insecure?

There is a growing mentality among Christians that encourages us to view our life here on earth as though we are all just along for the ride. If we are truly in tune to God's voice, all we have to do is merely sit quietly and wait for the next set of orders. I've watched people literally lose everything they have in an effort to be obedient to the next set of orders they think they heard from God. What is particularly devastating is that because of the slanted religious teaching they've received, they almost always hear God's voice telling them to do something they don't want to do. It's as though they honestly believe that God's will is always the opposite of theirs. This is truly sad because I believe it's the cause of many failed marriages, bankrupt businesses, unhappy carrerr choices and bad financial choices. We have trained ourselves to ask God what He wants and purposefully not ask ourselves what we want.

Rather than distance ourselves from a particular person whose personality clashes with ours, we assume it's God's will that we spend more time with them in an effort to learn something about love. Rather than leave a job where we are being abused and disrespected every day of the week, we assume God is telling us to stick it out and endure the hardship because it will grow us into a better person. Rather than do something we really enjoy, we mysteriously hear God telling us to move to a place we detest and start a ministry we have no heart for.

I think the chasing of God's will can become even more destructive for some people in the faith. I am amazed at how many people believe that God has a will for every little decision in their life, right down to the color of pants they put on in the morning. These people have rendered all personal decision-making to God. He supposedly dictates every step they take and every move they make. Sadly, these people spend most of their time "waiting on God" to see what He wants for this or that in their life. They don't know what kind of car to buy, or what to order at a restaurant until they've heard from Heaven. They see themselves as "fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants" Christians who get their marching orders always at the last minute, but praise God, at least they're always inside His will.

After about ten years of living this way, I have found that these people lose all sight of themselves. They have no idea what's on their heart from moment to moment. They can't see further than a few spiritual feet in front of their faces. They have almost no vision for the future of their lives because everything is based on a moment-to-moment dispensing of God's will. I have watched this mentality destroy the lives of too many Christians and I truly believe that it's time for people to reconsider questioning their theology in this matter.

The woman in my opening story had lived her entire Christian life this way. Chasing the will of God had become an addiction and a full-time job. By the time she stood in front of me, she literally reminded me of a spiritual crack addict who had lived from hit to hit for the last 20 years. When she approached me, she was "Jonesing" for another hit of God's will and when she walked away, she was freed from a religious mindset that had destroyed her life.

My Advice

First of all, I don't believe that God has a "will" for every stupid little thing in our lives. If we look into our own hearts and follow the desires within us, we will ultimately end up arriving at God's overall will for our lives. For the most part, what job you take, where you live, what Church you go to, what kind of car you drive and what you wear to work is all a matter of choice. There is no place on earth that you can go and be out from under His covering. God is everywhere! Though he has an overall "will" and "purpose" for your life, he leaves everything else up to choice.

These teachings about "God's will" are destructive because they leave us feeling that when we are faced with a choice between two or three things, there is only ONE right choice and all the others are "wrong." It raises the stakes where they should not be raised. Normal people do not look at life this way. Unfortunately a staggering number of sincere hearted Christians have now adopted this destructive way of thinking in everyday simple tasks. Many well-meaning people will actually stop everything when faced with an opportunity or a decision and wait for God to reveal His will in the matter. In other words, they'll do nothing. They will wait for God to make the choice for them rather than risk making the "wrong" choice. Who could blame them? This mentality breeds either spiritual paralysis, or downright weirdness. God will not make the choice for us. He waits for us to make the choice and then promises to go with us and bless whatever choice we make. This principle is the key to understanding relationship with God and the Christian walk.

Understanding and knowing what is in our hearts is the very foundation of choice. The question is not, "What does God want me to do," but "What do I want to do?" When we ask God which job offer we should take, He basically says, "Which job do you think you'd most like to have?" When we ask Him who we should date, he responds by saying, "Who are you interested in?" When we confront God on where we should live, He asks us, "Where do you want to live?" Ninety percent of the time, there is no wrong choice. It's just important that we actually make a choice. It's important that the choice we make came from the desires within our hearts. Unfortunately, with the skewed modern-day Christian understanding concerning the will of God, we are hesitant to consult our own hearts because we're told that nothing but badness lives there. This mentality is the mother of eternal lost-ness and spiritual dysfunction.

Stop looking for an external answer. Start looking inside your heart. Give up the belief that God has a will for every specific situation in your life that is contrary to what already exists within your heart. You don't have to wait in darkness for something to jump out at you. You don't need a word from the most recent Prophet that visits your Church and you don't need to search desperately to find "confirmation" for the latest thing you thought you heard from Him. All you need to do is trust that God is the one who gave you the desires of your heart. When you understand that principle alone, you are equipped to go throughout life making choices and decisions without worrying about missing the will of God.


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  1. Gravatar
    Sylvia Jean Large

    Many years ago I was led to speak to a young man that was wondering what was he was to do after graduated from college. After being told to "Seek for God's Will" like he was going to write it in the sky, I was led to tell this young man, "You know how to find God's will, go to bed tonight and get up in the morning, commit that day to the Lord and serve Him to the best of your ablity and then go to bed, the next morning, commit that day to the Lord and serve Him to the best of your ability and go to bed, you'll find that each day will lead you right down the path of God's Will. The next Spring his parents were visiting us and said I don't know what you said to Mark but his life has just turned around and goring forward. Great blog!

  2. Gravatar

    Fantastic post. I was raised with the constant admonition to ask God what his will is for my life. It wasn't until I gave up looking for his will in every little nook and cranny of life that I found it.

  3. Gravatar

    Thanks Darin for another IC myth exposed. I remember days at IC when it was time to make a choice about which class to take. Do I do the Beth Moore study, the one on finding demons in your knick-knacks and casting them out, or the one on being a happy homeschool mom? Each class of course is guaranteed to be life-changing.

    I remember once when I was so stressed out over trying to figure out the "God" choice for which class to take. A teacher of one class walked up to me and asked if I was going to take her class. I said, "I haven't heard God's will on which class to take" and then went home and cried because it was time to sign up and I hadn't heard God's will! Your "warfare" blog exposing the loss of ability for common reason as a result of IC influence applies here too.

  4. Gravatar
    Heart Walker

    Sometimes I have seen the opposite happen in the "will seeking mentality". I have see many times when a person might have an inward knowing that a particular person or opportunity might be bad for them, so they "wrestle' until suddenly they think "God" told them to move ahead. We do already know the answers in our hearts.....but don't always know our hearts well enough to flow from within. God is definately not into mind games.....Great blog!

  5. Gravatar

    Excellent blog. I remember have bought into the lie of Will Chasing. It was a time of confusion and fear. I certainly didn't know God's heart or myself well at all. God patiently showed me that each of us, have seeds of purpose & desire. One may feel a heart-draw to become a doctor, another would love to be a karate instructor. One may desirs to take an ceramics class, another to write a book. Asking God a zillion times what His will is for us is pointless. He wants us to listen to our hearts: those passions/dreams/desires He planted within us before we were born. Will is no cookie-cutter concept. Just like Darin spoke about disciplining & loving each of his children God has placed different desires in us. Playing the comparison game with others is dangerous.

  6. Gravatar

    Wonderful freeing words! Several months after we stopped attending the church bldg. our ex-pastor and his wife(who still attended that church) admonished us not forsaking the assembling together. We shared our reasons and then they expressed their desire to attend elsewhere but they hadn't "felt" the Lord telling them to leave. I suggested that perhaps their heart's desire to leave and go elsewhere was enough. Shortly afterwards they left and seem to be happy where they now attend. We still are friends and hang out with them frequently. I am seeing a growing freedom in their lives.

  7. Gravatar

    I believe that we should pray for one another. I believe that sometimes we do have a word for someone. In my experience it seems to come out as just a general conversation with no fireworks and overamped emotions. Non believers have even given me a "word" from God.
    The Bible says the "elders"...ssss...(plural) pray for the sick. I have always thought that even though it talks about the sick..the idea of more than one person praying as Gods hands or counselor takes away from the one man show. The one man show is one of many reasons I no longer attend traditional evangelical churches. I for one would not want the responsibility of giving prophetic counsel to anybody. I can't find my car keys most of the time.
    I stopped playing the prophetic lotto and learned to trust my own guts.

  8. Gravatar

    Well here is what I think, if He really lives in us like He claims He does then our will and His are blended together. My will is His will and I am so protective of my relationship with Him that we just go off making decisions together and I don't even worry about it. If He is in me and I am in Him I can assume that any decision I make automatically has Him in it. My dreams, His dreams blended together, where do mine start and where do His end? My heart His heart beating together where does His start and where does mine end?

  9. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    Very good Shelly. Great way of looking at it!!

  10. Gravatar

    Oh thanks. I have had huge struggles with this. I agree, because if God loves us then he must want us to be happy and to be happy it is important that we can honestly reflect on the desires of our own heart without feeling sinful or selfish about it, otherwise God is a bully who only wants absolute self sacrifice all the time. Normal people cannot keep up to a sustained level of self sacrifice, better to save it til it's need in a crisis, then ordinary people are capable of making extrordinary, selfless acts of sacrificing their own needs and desires to help others. Thankyou for undoing this doctrine which I was in bondage to for years, and you're right, it drives you crazy and just turns you into a robot. It doesn't make you happy and it does not enhance your relationship with God.

  11. Gravatar

    Our advice to Christians has always been that the best person to know what God's will for their life is Themselves! They are amazed. Many have come through heavy shepherding and the like, and the idea that they could have an opinion, let alone one acceptable to God had never occurred to them!
    If we trust Him, he will give us the desires of our heart. (He gives us the desires, and fulfils them if we let Him)

    Trust in the Lord, and do good;
    Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
    4 Delight yourself also in the Lord,
    And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
    5 Commit your way to the Lord,
    Trust also in Him,
    And He shall bring it to pass.
    Psalms 37:3-5 (NKJV)

    By all means seek advice, but do not be obliged to take it. You are the expert on God's will for your own life.

  12. Gravatar

    Another liberating article!I spent four years of my life "waiting on the Lord" for every little thing and being TERRIFIED that I would be disobedient if I put on the wrong pair of socks or ate what I wanted at lunch. After much deception, I finally decided to trust my instincts -- and regained myself. "Turning your will over to God" and "waiting on the Lord" in contemplative/prophetic prayer are doing untold harm to thousands. I still remember John Bevere coming to our church and preaching that if what we were doing wasn't God's plan for our lives, it would all be burned up at judgement, no matter how good or righteous it was! People freaked! And rightly so. If you "hand the car keys over to Jesus," you give up your free will and choice. And that's not from God!

  13. Gravatar

    It seems the will of God issue flows from the God knows everything that is going to happen teaching. It seems God only knows everything that is knowable, & what He plans to do to resolve this mess. Francis Schaffer points out that in the 1st 11 chapters of Genesis we have all the revelation on how the world works that we need. So when God brings the animals to Adam to SEE what he will name them, He doesn't know yet! When He commissions us to be fruitful...He's telling us to be creative! The word 'perfect' is poorly translated; it usually means 'complete' in the Bible. It's the unsaved who have no choice but to be fearful & incomplete, and won't risk putting all of themselves into it, because God isn't their security & source of help. WHATSOEVER your hand finds to do, do it (Ecclec)Liberty!

  14. Gravatar

    so i am not alone, huh? from the moment i was baptized i started bringing my life work, and other things, before Him. fasted, prayed, cried, begged for Him to reveal His will for my life. i waited for the epiphany, waited to see that Godly writing on the wall, and waited. i moved from one job to another in the interim, while i waited for God to make up His mind about what He wanted and needed me to do. it was only after i stumbled across something i enjoyed and started moving more into that line of work that i started to hear what He had been telling me all along. Tony, i've blessed you with talent and free will. pick something and i will bless your efforts. and, while the road hasn't been without challenges, i have grown in my field. gotta love that God of ours, eh?

  15. Gravatar

    It is crazy how god works. I'm tring to get back into work place and I have been worried on what to do. There is a job that I really want but I won't know about her desion untill a week and I have been appling for other jobs that I like but that is not on my top list of choices.I have been worring about the "other jobs" interviews and calls for the interviews what happens if they call me before I get the answer from "the top job".... so I came to relize maybe that my desire to work there is god sent.Even though I didn't do well (I believe) @ the "top job" interview, If god wants me to be there he will put me there - He is the creater.. anyways I'm basicly saying that.. I belive that me running into this website is a hint from god...Don't worry god is in you and he is in control..

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