I’ve come to believe that knowing God’s will is not an exact science and it’s our desire for precise formulas that gets us in trouble. Back in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve depended on an ongoing conversation with God to understand his will concerning right and wrong. Satan made them discontent with that arrangement and convinced rely on “technology” to understand morality. Satan offered access to God’s views on right and wrong through eating a piece of fruit, and in the process made God superfluous. The truth is God doesn’t offer us formulas, fruit, tarot cards and other “exact science” methods of knowing his will. God offers us a relationship with himself and we all know how unmanageable that can be.
The root of our problem is that we want God to hand us a magic apple and let us be on our way. Meanwhile God wants be generous and share parts of his will with us in the context of an ongoing, loving dialogue. Our hunger to know God’s will is an invitation, placed deep within us, to encounter God and to know his love.
We’re an awful lot like Ipods.
A few years ago my luck changed when it came to buying my wife gifts. Half of every piece of clothing or jewelry I’ve ever bought Amy was exchanged. Not for a lack of effort on my part; I agonize over gift buying. A few Valentine Day’s ago I bought Amy an Ipod Mini and she loved it. Amy transferred the bulk of her CD collection to the Ipod’s hard drive. And wherever she goes, she can listen to whatever is on the drive. One limit of the Ipod is it’s unable to pick up even one of the dozen radio waves that constantly crash against its shell.
All it takes to pick up a radio signal is a cheap Kmart radio.
Friends, you and I have been designed to behave like a radio. God is near and is constantly speaking to us. We’re designed for constant communication with God. However, our sin natures have pointed our antennae inward.
How can we hear from God? Part of the answer is that we need to participate in God’s ongoing change process and to become people who are interested and capable of hearing from God.
Paul, in his letter to the Romans outlines this connection between allowing yourself to be changed by God and your ability to hear from him:
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
The link between participating in God’s change and hearing from God is not one of legalism or behavioral modification. The plain truth is that people who are driven by their inward bent are ultimately not interested in hearing from God—they are just looking for that magic apple. This is one of the mercies that come with seeking God’s will: The process drives us to God and makes us more like Christ.
This Meditation is an excerpt from Larry's book, Divine Intention: How God's Work in the Early Church Empowers Us Today.