Have you ever asked yourself that question, “What’s God’s will for my life?”
For many of us, it’s a drastically important question that– for some reason– never seems to get a clear answer. We want so desperately to do what God wants us to do. We desire so deeply to follow His specific calling on our lives. But, we just don’t seem to get an answer.
For so many this question has become a paralyzing one, that causes us to grow indecisive and unsure about where to go next. We grow frustrated every time the pastor tells us, “surrender everything to God”– because we want to do that, we just have no idea how to actually do something about it.
Ever had that problem?
Today is the 4th article in our series going through the book of 1 Samuel.
Last time, we talked about what to do when we feel distant from God. At that point, Israel had just gotten the Ark of the Covenant back from their enemies, and Samuel was just starting to lead Israel. Since that time, Israel has elected their first king– Saul. Today, we’re going to be looking at another story. One that addresses that issue of figuring out God’s will for our life. We pick up here, shortly after Saul is crowned King, where (once again), the Philistines are attacking Israel. So, if you have your Bible, turn in it to 1 Samuel chapter 14 verse 1-15 and read through that for me. After that, let’s talk through what we read!
So, to recap what we just read– this whole story starts with this guy named Jonathan, Saul’s son– the prince of Israel. Currently, the Philistines and Israelites are at a standoff. Each camp is preparing for battle, just around the corner, with only some rock formations and some other natural barriers standing between them. It’s quite clear to all the Israelites: They’re attacking the Lord’s people– the Philistines need to go.
Jonathan knows this. So, he’s going to take action. Let’s re-read verse 6:
“Let’s go across to the outpost of those pagans,” Jonathan said to his armor bearer. “Perhaps the Lord will help us, for nothing can hinder the Lord. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!”
Wait, perhaps?!? Hold on there Jonathan! How do you know God even wants you do this? It would probably be safer to just sit back and wait for the rest of the army to attack. Let’s wait for reinforcements. Don’t be hasty about anything here!
To which, Jonathan would probably say, “That’s not the point. I know for certain that these Philistines need to be defeated. That’s a mission we’ve all been assigned to. But I believe God has called me to go out and meet them this way, right here and right now. I know He can use me – and I hope He does. But even if he doesn’t, I’ve still obeyed Him. And that’s the part that counts.”
And then Jonathan and his armor bearer start their mission towards the enemy camp. Along the way, Jonathan makes a very wise decision. Let’s read verse 8.
What’s Jonathan doing here? At first glance, it seems a little superstitious to trust your fate to a random event, like a magic 8 ball? Ehh… Seems kind of stupid to me.
At first glance.
But if we look deeper, we see what He’s really doing here. You see, what Jonathan is doing, is He’s surrendering what He believes His calling is– to God. He’s saying, in not-so-many words, “God, I trust you. If you want me to do this, please, make this clear through my circumstances. If you don’t want me to, please make that clear too. I will follow wherever you lead.”
He was doing something so many of us miss today when we’re following what we believe to be God’s call on our lives: he was holding his calling loosely. He was following it, but not holding on to it with a death grip. That way, at any time, God could redirect him somewhere else.
So, how do we apply that to our lives, today? Well, not through setting up a bunch of “if this happens, I’ll do this, and if it doesn’t, I’ll do this” tests. They did that back then, because at that time, they didn’t have the Holy Spirit. We do. So, instead of rolling dice or throwing out fleeces, we need to listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit. So, with that being said, here’s the application– it’s what I like to call the “Find & Follow” principle. Here’s the gist of what Jonathan did, and how we can do the same, in our lives today. Take a look…
You find God’s will through (1) the spiritual gifts God has given you, (2) the desires of your heart, and (3) the leading of the Holy Spirt.
You follow the will of God by holding that leading in tension with: (1) what God’s Word already says, (2) the wise counsel of other believers, and (3) the circumstances you’ve been placed in.
Jonathan knew how God had made him. He longed for Israel’s freedom, and he felt God’s leading towards action. From there, he made the choice to follow that leading, but made sure to hold that in tension with obedience to God, the words of his friend, and the situation he was walking into. He found and followed God’s will for His life. And God used him to deliver Israel through it.
How about you? How are you finding and following God’s will for your life?