Last week I shared that many times we are waiting for the Lord to reveal His will, but He is waiting for us to know our need, such as when He knew within Himself that Adam needed a mate, but Adam didn’t know it.
There are times He doesn’t really have a perfect will for us, because very often He has already delegated that choice to us, and is waiting for us to decide. When He brought all the animals by Adam to see what He would name them, He didn’t have a perfect will for the names of the animals, that was Adam’s job that had been delegated to Him. He went with what Adam chose: “And whatever Adam named an animal, that was the name of it.” Genesis 2:19
He will often reveal wisdom and the consequences of going in each possible direction, but often it is completely up to us and His perfect will is whatever we decide. The confusion on our part is we see the options and are wanting Him to tell us which way to go, while in fact He is waiting for us to make a decision.
Example #1: “…You won’t like it.”
Last month I was running errands in Tulsa around lunch time and wanted to stop somewhere to eat for no more than 30 minutes, and I was hungry for Italian food. There was a restaurant called Zio’s on the corner, and I was about to drive into the parking lot, but before I did so I asked, “What do you think about that Father?” Immediately I heard, “Why don’t you eat somewhere else, you’re not going to like it.”
The reason I asked Him in the first place is because I was in the middle of a busy day and wanted to be as efficient as possible, with about a 90 minute drive home after all my errands. I didn’t want to spend more than 30 minutes at lunch, so I was thinking ‘Is there going to be a 20 minute wait before seated?
So when He said, “Why don’t you eat somewhere else, you’re not going to like it.” I took it as a suggestion but nothing more. I figured how bad could it be? There was nothing ‘heavy’ in my spirit about my health or safety, and no grievance if I made the choice to continue with my plan which would be an indicator He did have a perfect will and I would be going against it. So I said, “Well, I haven’t been there in a long time and its quick and easy so I’ll go ahead if that’s OK Father.” There was no response, just silence, but no grievance in my spirit either - so I went in.
I ordered Mozzarella sticks, a Caesar salad, and Chicken Parmesan
I thought since I’d had nothing for breakfast and would just have a snack in the evening, I could do the unhealthy thing and have a single large meal for lunch and take what I didn’t eat home for the next day, LOL.
I ate the cheese sticks and was just finishing the salad when the waitress brought the Chicken Parmesan – perfectly timed. I took a bite off the edge and it tasted like charcoal, so I ate another bite from elsewhere on the piece, and it too tasted like charcoal. At that point I flipped it over to find the whole bottom of the serving burnt black, and called the waitress over. I told her I couldn’t eat it, she was appalled the cook had plated it, promised to replace it, and said she would show the manager.
I told her I didn’t want another piece and was full enough and needed to get going, so they took it off the bill and I was soon on my way, paying the $9 but tipping her according to what the full price would have been, as it wasn’t her fault the cook had burned and then hidden it. (Integrity requires just like when using a coupon with a meal, the godly thing is to tip according to what the price would have been, not according to the discounted bill presented, as the server worked just the same and should not be penalized.)
As I walked out I said, “Well Father, you were right, I didn’t like it. But no harm, I’m pretty full anyway just with the salad and cheese sticks.”
He had revealed the consequences of my action
That was a case of me knowing ahead of time ‘You won’t like it’ but I was also very hungry, so I was willing for the sake of my available time to knowingly go to a restaurant where I knew I’d not like the meal. I weighed the ramifications of the choice, and since there was nothing in my spirit about my safety or health involved, I went there anyway. Haven’t you ever been to a new restaurant taking the risk you might not like the meal?
So we see the Father often laying out the consequences of our actions, but the decision is ours.
Example #2: Paul being shown what he must suffer, Acts 20:22/21:11
Shortly after Paul met the Lord on the Damascus road, it was revealed to him what he would suffer if he chose to walk in the Lord’s call. The Lord even shared that with Ananias, the disciple the Lord sent to the then Saul of Tarsus as he awaited someone to lay hands on him so he could regain his sight:
“Go your way, for he must bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel. And I will show him what he must suffer for my name’s sake.” Acts 9:15-16
When Saul of Tarsus met Jesus of Nazareth that day, it totally rearranged the future apostle Paul’s theology. And right then, in those early days, the Lord laid out for him what he could walk in – but it was his choice as persecution and suffering would be involved.
Years later Paul had decided he wanted to be in Jerusalem for Pentecost: “For Paul had decided to sail on by Ephesus rather than spend time in Asia (the state in which Ephesus was located) because he wanted to hurry so that if possible, he could be in Jerusalem for Pentecost.” Acts 20:16
Notice that Paul is making these decisions. There is no vision of a man in Jerusalem saying ‘Come over here and help us’ as he had that led him into Greece*. This is just Paul wanting to visit Jerusalem at Pentecost.
And yet everywhere Paul goes he says this: “And now I go to Jerusalem, bound in my spirit to go there not knowing what will happen, except that everywhere I go the Spirit witnesses that arrest and troubles await me. But none of these things move me because I don’t count my life dear to myself so that I might finish my ministry with joy…”* (Acts 16:9, 20: 22-23)
Paul wasn’t missing God’s will though it is clear Paul is the one who is making the plans to go, not God. But it was Paul’s choice because he had known from his new birth what he would suffer. He knew what he was walking into, with Agabus the prophet finally providing the details: “This is what the Holy Spirit is saying; So shall the Jews arrest you (the man who owns this belt) and then turn you over to the Romans…” Acts 21:11
That is exactly what happened, and it eventually led to Paul’s trial and execution in Rome. But he had been shown the consequences of his decision to become a disciple of Jesus from the start, yet chose that path.
The ‘shouting God’ culture
There is a church culture that practices yelling and screaming and shouting at the top of the lungs to God to either call Him down or let Him know how earnestly they want Him. As a result, they expect God to be just as loud, just as clear in His will, and they expect Him to have a ‘perfect will’ in all things, never considering that some decisions are ours to make, and He will agree with whatever we choose. The idea that Adam could name the animals whatever he wanted and God would go with that, is never considered in modern life. But sometimes He IS just waiting to see what we will do.
Most often the Lord doesn’t shout, He reveals in whispers deep in our souls the ramifications and consequences of each path we are considering, and then will fully be present with us to the extent each decision we’ve made allows Him to be.
“There are those who claim it is impossible to know what we are meant to do, or meant to be. But the folks who say that tend to be living for a God who shouts, and completely miss the one who whispers.” From the movie “Finding Normal”
Next week, choosing a mate, birth control, criminal justice, money matters, and more. Until then, blessings,