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Are You Afraid of Godís Will?
By David A. DePra
Most Christians will tell you that they trust God. None of us are going to suggest that God could be unfaithful. Many of Godís people walk by faith. They understand that doing so is the normal Christian life.
The question for a growing Christian, however, is rarely as to whether God is faithful. If we didnít believe God was faithful, we probably wouldnít be saved, or be seeking His will to begin with. Sure, there are times when it seems that God isnít faithful Ė at least to our understanding. But despite our normal doubts, most Christians arenít going to stand up and accuse God of lying to them.
Neither is the question whether God wants to do His will. I mean, if God has a will, then itís HisÖ..ummmÖitís His will. By definition, that means HE WILLS IT. In other words, God wants to do His will, otherwise, it wouldnít be His will. So Godís desire to do His will is rarely something that a thinking Christian will question.
Well, how about whether God CAN do His will? Is that a question? That is usually not in debate either. Everyone knows God can do anything He wants. So rarely do Christians question Godís ability to carry out His will.
Most Christians, if they have any knowledge of God at all, will agree that these things are not up for debate. God has promised to do His will in our life, and He is both willing and able to keep that promise.
There are, however, some other issues that trouble Christians. For instance, sure, I believe God has a will, wants to do His will, and can do His will. But what if Godís will is something Iím afraid of? What if I am afraid that something MIGHT BE Godís will? How do I handle THAT? How do I resolve my fear and begin trusting God?
If you have ever been in a trial, you will testify to the fact that you donít know how God is going to resolve it, or even whether He is going to resolve it any time soon. And it is more than likely that there are certain outcomes to that trial which, if you were to think about them, would strike fear in your heart. What if God allow this, or that? What if the one thing you fear most is Godís will in this matter?
The fact is, part of any trial is this very issue. We donít know what God will allow. And often, this is why we fear in a trial. But fear is never constructive, but destructive. Thus, we need to know what to do with this fear, and how to resolve this issue in the will of God.
I was once involved in a situation which was quite important for myself and my family. I did not know what God was going to do, although I did believe He had the situation under control. As I thought about how God might want to work out His will in the situation, there was one particular scenario that I dreaded. What if it was Godís will for THAT scenario to happen? I began to feel this terrible sense of dread and fear that maybe that scenario was Godís will.
Now, donít misunderstand. Iím not talking, at this point, about any possibility that God would forsake me. Iím not talking about God letting me down, or of God being anything less than totally faithful. Rather, Iím talking about God DOING HIS WILL Ė yet that it would be something that I greatly feared.
Get that. I was not entertaining the possibility that God would forsake me, and that because God let me down, that things would go down the drain. Rather, I was thinking about whether it could be Godís will that they go down the drain. THAT was the issue. And again Ė it scared me. It made me feel terrible. What if God allowed THAT? What if God WILLED that?
I mean, letís face it. Bad things happen to Godís people. Read the Bible. Talk to your Christian friends. Everyone has things Ė things about which they have prayed. Things in which they have perhaps obeyed God, and believed Him Ė and yet some of these things have not worked unto what we might think were positive results. Christians have trials, and even tragedy in their lives Ė and sometimes even over the very things they are presently praying about.
Do these things prove God is unfaithful? Of course not. If you and I have surrendered to God, and are doing all that we know to believe and obey Him, then even if the worst happens, we can be sure that it is in His hands. We may not understand WHY what has happened HAS happened, but we gave it to God. He always takes what we give Him.
But here is the point: I was standing there, thinking about my situation, believing that God was faithful. Yet there was, in the back of my mind, soon to be in the forefront of my mind, this issue of what God might WILL. What if it was Godís will, after I gave Him my situation, to allow, or even cause, the worst thing I could imagine to happen? Again Ė this scared me. It made me afraid.
I donít think that my reaction, and consideration of this possibility, is unusual. If you are a thinking Christian, you have faced this question. I realize that there are some Christians who refuse to face the possibility that anything unpleasant could be Godís will for them, but the Bible doesnít back them up. If they were correct in their thinking, then Christians could never have trials within the will of God. In that case, all trials would be outside of Godís will, and our goal should be to get out of the trial, and back into Godís will Ė where there arenít any trials. This isnít Biblical.
God has a will of each one of us. But too often we think God is, "micro-managing," His will, if you know what I mean. He isnít. He is, "macro-managing." In other words, God has an overall purpose in each of our lives. It is to bring us into mature sonship. It is to conform us to the image of His Son, and thus, prepare us for the eternal ages where we will live with Him forever. THAT is Godís will for us in this age, and everything else falls under that heading.
What often happens, however, is that God has His focus on that ETERNAL purpose, and we have our focus on some temporal issue. God wants to use the temporal issue for eternal ends. We want to use the temporal issue for temporal ends. Thus, we donít understand, and even doubt God.
Donít misunderstand. God cares about everything. God has a will for us regarding our temporal needs and problems. But Godís temporal will is always in HARMONY with His eternal will Ė indeed, works towards that. That is why Jesus said that we must seek FIRST the kingdom of God, and if we do, all THESE THINGS (temporal needs) would be added unto us. In this we see clearly that God intends that all of our needs be met. But primarily as the outcome of FIRST seeking His kingdom.
Ok. But this really doesnít solve my problem. I am still standing there AFRAID that a certain outcome to my problem might be the will of God. What am I supposed to do about such a fear?
Well, when I began to open my fears about this up to God, a couple of things began to occur to me. Three things in particular. And when I was done thinking about them, I realized how silly it was to be afraid that something MIGHT be the will of God.
First of all, FEAR is never of God. If I am afraid of God, it is because I have somewhere, somehow, embrace a lie about Him Ė about His character and intentions. We are to REVERE God, which is what the Bible means by, "the fear of the Lord." But we are never to be AFRAID of Him.
One way to tell if you are afraid of God, rather than revering Him, is that when you are afraid of God, you want to hide from Him. You want to hold back your life and your problems. But if you revere God, you want to get close to Him. You want to give Him those problems. Of course, this is because reverence for God is the result of seeing that He loves you. Perfect love always casts OUT fear Ė the, "being afraid," attitude.
All, "being afraid of God," goes back to somewhere I have embraced a lie about Him. But on a secondary level, if I am afraid that if I trust God that such and such will happen Ė which was what I was doing Ė then I am reacting to a lack of understanding on my part. At best, I have only part of the picture, and that is feeding my fear of the unknown.
This was the second thing I realized: That fear is based on either a lack of understanding, or upon a wrong understanding. It has to be, because the Bible says that if He know God we wonít be afraid of Him. We will know He is love.
Thus, if you imagine the worst possible thing that can happen in a situation, and then imagine that such an outcome is the will of God, and then become afraid, you are NOT seeing the whole Truth about the situation. For instance, suppose a loved one is seriously ill. You are praying for them. The worse outcome, according to your understanding, might be that they die. But perhaps, in the eyes of God, this is the best possible outcome, for they will go home to HIM.
See what I mean? Human emotions, and our temporal perspective on things, make it almost impossible to see the BIG PICTURE. When we are in a trial we are usually so localized that we cannot see anything but our need to GET OUT of the trial. We cannot understand.
Being afraid that something might be Godís will Ė such a fear is possible because we have placed our faith, at least partly, in our understanding of the situation. We imagine a terrible scenario, and then we work it out in our minds. We conclude this or that about it, and grow afraid. Hidden from us are things that God knows, but that we DONíT KNOW. Yet if we DID know those hidden facts, they would completely change our fear about them over to rejoicing.
So why doesnít God tell us what we donít know? Usually because He CANNOT tell us. He cannot tell us because we would have NO FRAME OF REFERENCE for them. Now, it isnít that we couldnít sort of process those hidden facts. But as mentioned earlier, they are part of the overall scheme of things in the plan of God. And unless we are able to grasp THAT, the things which are happening along the way will never make sense to us, because we will not have the right context Ė that of Godís wisdom and purpose.
So the first thing I saw was that fear Ė the, "being afraid of God," kind Ė is never of God. It is a lie. And the second thing I began to see was that I cannot understand unless I have the whole picture Ė and we never do have the whole picture. Only God does. Thus, what we fear might be a GOOD thing in the overall plan of God. I saw it only as a bad thing. That is why I was afraid.
Can we see how our fears Ė as big and powerful and real as they might seem Ė are not generated from the Truth at all? They never are. They are OUR REACTIONS to our lack of understanding! Thus, if I react in fear towards what might be Godís will, it is based on an incomplete understanding of God in that situation.
What is the solution to such a fear? Faith. When there is a gap between my understanding, and the possibilities of Godís will, I must fill that gap in my understanding with faith. In short, I may not understand, but I can put my faith in the One who does. This is the message of Proverbs 3;
Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in your own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. (Proverbs 3:5-7)
Now, once we realize that it is NORMAL for us to be incomplete in our understanding, it should provide some comfort. It means that we need not FEAR Ė because it is a waste of time to fear something we do not understand fully. Rather, we should Ė in faith -- surrender it all to God and trust Him Ė for there is nothing beyond His control.
So this helped me. I thought to myself, "Even if what I fear happens, I can be sure that my fears were unfounded. For God is faithful and is in charge of my situation, and if He wills that this thing I fear come to pass, then I can be sure that He understands this in a way that I do not. He sees it as a good thing. My fear is therefore based in a lie Ė in an incomplete understanding of the situation. Godís faithfulness is the answer."
This naturally brought me to the third thing I began to realize. If it really was GODíS WILL for the thing that I feared to come to pass, then I was actually FEARING GODíS WILL!
Get that. To be afraid that something MIGHT BE Godís will is equal to being afraid of Godís will. (Even if what I fear doesnít end up BEING Godís will.) It is really being afraid of God Himself -- who loves me. In effect, through fear, it is ME resisting and dreading something that God has, in answer to my prayers, ordained for my good.
Now, donít misunderstand. Being afraid that something might be Godís will doesnít mean it IS Godís will. Neither does it mean that it ISN"T Godís will. And never think, as some foolish teachers suggest, that if you are afraid of something, that God is going to automatically bring the thing you fear upon you. That is a terrible teaching. No. I am talking about a spiritual atmosphere we create for ourselves, wherein we are afraid that something might be Godís will. We are actually saying, "If this is Godís will, I will just die. I am afraid of it." We are being afraid of something which, if it actually IS the will of God, God deems to be for our good.
If something ends up being the will of God, then, by definition, it is GOOD. It is Godís answer for me, in His love and purpose. Thus, for me to be afraid that this outcome MIGHT be Godís will, becomes nonsense. I am fearing GODíS WILL. Sure, my fear is based on my lack of understanding. But it is also based on unbelief Ė for I am not trusting that God knows more than I do, and cares more about it than I do.
In reality, my fear that something might be Godís will has no relationship at all to whether IT IS Godís will. It does, however, speak directly to my relationship with HIM. The key here is to surrender all my fears and all my situations to God. That is faith and the only solution to the problem.
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Heb 11:6)
This verse is an often quoted one, but somehow most of us concentrate only on the necessity of faith, and miss the description of faith. This verse actually gives us the most basic component of faith: That God responds to those who seek Him.
Do you see that? The writer of Hebrews, who I think was Paul, says that it is impossible to please God without faith. But then he tells us what, in effect, is the most basic characteristic of faith. He says, "For whoever comes to God in faith believes that God exists, and that God is a RESPONDER to those who diligently seek Him."
So there you have it. God responds to those who truly seek Him. Do you believe that?
That may seem to be an unnecessary question to some. But think about it. One of the greatest fears that people have Ė including Christians Ė is that they are seeking God, asking Him, and surrendering to Him Ė but that He really isnít there for them. It would seem that the greatest fear that we have in our walk with Christ is that somewhere along the way, we lost touch with God. We are believing He is holding us when He isnít!
Now, few Christians would ever say that God has been unfaithful to them. No. But what we do say is that we have been unfaithful to Him. And as a result, maybe we are out of His will. Indeed, maybe we are out of His will and donít even know it! And as a result, we fear, we are going down a path to disaster, and donít even know it.
Have you ever faced that question? Have you ever feared that maybe you are so deceived that you believe God is with you, but He isnít? Maybe you are risking everything on God. But there is nothing to prove to you that God is there for you. Indeed, maybe there is plenty to prove to you that He may NOT be there for you. How do you answer this question? How do you know for sure?
The above verse answers these questions. Even if the worst-case scenario were true Ė that you ARE deceived and out of Godís will Ė you are assured that EVEN THEN you can diligently seek God. And if you do, He will respond to you. He will open your eyes and bring you back to His will.
You see, if Godís faithfulness depended upon our understanding of Him, or of what He was doing, then God would never have said to us, "lean not upon your own understanding." Can you see that? God is already telling us that we arenít going to understand. In fact, He is telling us that IN OUR CONFUSION Ė even in our deception Ė we can still trust God! Trust Him to do what? Go along with our deception? No! Be faithful to us despite it. Even if we are totally off the track as to our understanding of what is doing in our lives, if we trust God and surrender to Him, God will bring us back into His purpose. This MUST BE SO, or everything does depend on our understanding, rather than upon the understanding of God.
We need to get this: God says, "Stop trusting your understanding. Stop trusting it when you think you understand, and stop trusting it when you think you donít. Stop trusting your understanding, PERIOD, and START trusting ME." If we will simply do this, God will have an access to us through our faith, that will enable Him to open our eyes and our understanding.
Obviously, God is not telling us that we will never understand. He is not saying that we should never want to understand, or that we are to check our brains at the door of the kingdom of God. No. What He is telling us is this: Understanding is not the doorway to God. Faith is the doorway. THEN we will understand.
Understanding God never comes through brains. It comes through faith. Hebrews says, "By faith we understandÖ." (Heb. 11:3) Through a moral surrender to God, there is a spiritual condition created whereby God has access to us.
Faith is not intellectual or emotional. Faith is moral. It is a moral surrender to God, whereby I rely and trust Him, to the disregard of the consequences. If I will do that, I enter into a relationship with God, and I grow to understand Him. Understanding comes no other way.
But wait. What if we donít even know TO surrender to God? Well, thatís easy. God is continually, through the Holy Spirit, trying to show us this Truth, and bring us to it. God is continually trying to penetrate our hardness of heart, and soften us. He promises that He will be doing this.
Hebrews gives us the basic Truth that if we will diligently seek God, that God WILL RESPOND Ė not sometimes, but every time. That is faith at its root. Notice the nonsense if Hebrews said the opposite: "He who comes near to God must doubt that God will respond to him." Silly. If I do not believe that God will respond to my desire for Him, then I will never see the answer God gives. No. I must believe that God is there for me Ė and that He is a responder to those who seek Him.
So I began to see the folly of fearing that something MIGHT be the will of God. First of all, if it ended up being the will of God, then my fears were obviously based on the wrong facts. Secondly, if it ended up being the will of God, then such an outcome, because it was the will of God, was GOOD. And so again Ė my fears were based on my own misunderstanding. And thirdly, even if I am confused, or even deceived, I can still seek GOD HIMSELF. And He will respond to me Ė He will bring me out of my confusion, and bring His answer to my problem.
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