Monday, March 17, 2008

Knowing the will of God

Knowing the will of God and acting upon it sometimes become so confusing. When it comes to decision making, how can we be in 100% certainty that the decision we are about to make is God's will?

We were driving back home on Saturday evening and saw an SUV dunked in to a road side pit. There was this old couple standing and a tow truck was pulling the vehicle off from the pit (No police on the scene). As we passed them, while we were looking at the scene, the man (probably in his late 60's) fell backward unconsciously hitting his head hard on the concrete pavement. Our immediate response was, 'Oh my God, he might have injured his head badly, Lets take a U-turn and go and see if they need any help'! But as I was looking for a way to make a U-turn, I started processing that thought in my mind, I thought to myself that there is His wife and the driver of the towing truck who could call the ambulance for them. And even if we go, the only help we could probably do is calling the ambulance. Anyways, I ended up going home without helping them and felt guilty for the rest of the day and still not able to get rid of that scene from my mind.

Was that a right decision? Does Holy Spirit help us to make a spontaneous decision or intelligent decision? From my experience, most of the spontaneous decisions I have made in life were due to the emotional pressure of the moment. Bible says, we have the mind of Christ. Then, if the thoughts are generated in the mind, and thoughts enables us to make decisions, can we say the decision we make after 'analyzing' many thoughts, is from God?

I have this struggle when it comes to 'giving'. I have made many emotional decisions in the past about 'giving'. But now a days I have been resisting such temptations. I am more towards, making wise decisions, which requires thinking. I believe God works through our mind and thoughts. Does He also work through our emotions? Most of the time I cannot trust my emotions, such as feeling sad after watching a movie for example. It wasn't real, but I still 'felt' sad. And it would be foolish to make decisions based on what I saw on the screen. My mind knows it is not real, but not my emotions.

Bible tells us about the 'renewing of our mind', which I think is replacing the error in our mind with the truth of God's word. Sometimes my emotions tells me that I am not forgiven, but the truth (reality) is I am forgiven. Sometimes my emotions tells me that I am not loved, but the truth (reality) is I am perfectly loved by my heavenly Father. In essence, most of the time, I cannot trust my emotions, so how can I make decisions based on my emotions?

"Will" is like a switch, it's either 'yes' or 'no', there is no middle ground and I believe the owner of our 'will' is us (God has given us free will). But our 'will' can be influenced by either our emotions or our thoughts (Soul consists of thoughts, will and emotions), but how do we distinguish between emotions and thoughts?
If I tend to think a lot before making a decision, I fear if I am 'over analyzing'. It becomes a little complicated. I think the fundamental question I wanted to ask is, as we live this journey of 'living by faith', how can we be sure that the decisions we make is the will of God. Should we just a take a common sense approach such as, since Christ lives in us and we have the mind of Christ, just go with our heart? And don't bother whether its an emotional decision or wise decision?

7 comments:

Nicole said...

Do you think God's Will can go either way in some choices that we make? Does Father bless us in either direction we choose to go in certain circumstances?
Sometimes I think he gives us choices in things that will lead to his blessings either way!

What do you think about this?

Nicole said...

Here are some more thoughts according to this post!

My husband and I are going to have to make some pretty huge decisions in the next couple of weeks. We own the condo we are living in and tried to rent it out in the past recently, but had no luck, meanwhile, my husband has interviews in other places that would require us to move and then that would mean we would have to pay rent plus our mortgage payment. All these thoughts are running through my mind and all of the details of the possible move are very scary to me. Nothing that I could see would work unless we found a renter in the next week or so. I am not saying that we couldn't find a renter, but its like what has happened before; if anything happens, its going to have to happen all at once or I just don't see it working out. I know Father is bigger than all of this and I know He wants what is best, but how can we know what is best? Making decisions that could be life changing is very hard. Emotionally, I can see me over reacting and perhaps making this problem bigger than it is, and I know what I would decide to do if it was completely up to me and my emotions; the safest one I can understand, that being, staying here and waiting until my husband found a job where we currently live. Well, no luck yet, and who knows how long that would take. Right now we are thinking that since we are in need of a job right away then we will take whatever comes first, but that is just fear talking I think. Or maybe it’s a good decision. I don't know! Maybe there isn't a safe decision at all, but all I know is Father is going to have to provide there is no other way.

Bino! I am so blessed that you brought this up. I love how Father does that, He will use posts to direct us towards Him and that is what He has done here brother!

Any encouragement regarding this subject would be completely helpful!

In Freedom, Nicole!

Joel Brueseke said...

I think it takes a long time to grow in understanding what Jesus is doing (at the present moment), but the truth is that He is always present with us and is always One with us. I think that what you say about renewing our minds is crucial to understanding and also being more at ease with each and every situation in which major (and minor) decisions are made.

Sometimes the decisions that God leads us in are very foreign to common sense. Yes, we have brains to make decisions, but as children of the Father who uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, sometimes the things He leads us in don't make much worldly sense.

Unfortunately religion and legalism, while giving lip service to the notion of a God who doesn't make sense, will still lead us into making logical and rules-based decisions, based upon sight and not faith.

I would think that Jesus would have seen problem upon problem as He went about His daily walk as a man, and if it was up to Him to always stop and fix every situation, He perhaps never would have fulfilled that which the Father was actually doing in and through Him. That's not to say that we can't or shouldn't stop and help people in need, but it doesn't mean that we necessarily should either.

I think what has helped me the most in all of this is to live more and more in the understanding that "in Him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28) and "it is God who works in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure" (Phil 2:13).

This takes the focus off of us and puts the focus on the one in whom we live and move and exist and on the one who is working in us. This is truly a life of faith and not sight! It's most definitely not always logical.

And it's not always wrapped up in a nice, neat little package either. :) I've heard plenty of stories from people who have prayed and prayed about things, and suddenly everything falls right into place. This has happened to me on occasion as well. This is truly God working in our lives. But what's often not heard are the stories in which we've prayed and prayed and have felt, heard and seen nothing! This doesn't mean that God's not active in our lives, but it just means that things aren't working out according to sight/logic.

And I think all of this must be understood in the context of God's ultimate will that is brought to light in the following passage. We are in God's will because we are in Christ.

Eph 1:6-12
6 ...to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.

7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, 9 having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth — in Him. 11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, 12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.

Bino Manjasseril said...

Nicole,

Does Father bless us in either direction we choose to go in certain circumstances?

I believe so! But it doesn't mean that the decision we make is always His will. For example, we can choose to sin; but that is not His will for us. Thats where the 'free will' comes into picture, which becomes so complicated in situations. If we didn't have a will, love means nothing.

The situation you shared here is a tough one. The two verse Joel quoted in his comments brings a lot of perspective into this:

"in Him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28)

"it is God who works in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure" (Phil 2:13)

We are ALWAYS in Him, even when we are operating out of His will! That's a good news, isn't it?
In your particular situation (since there is no 'sinning' issue involved) ultimately we 'can' yield to either choice. And I believe God will cause it for your good in either case. His word says, He will cause everything (good and bad) for our good. Let's say, you choose option 1, it doesn't mean option 1 is the best for over option 2. BUT either way, you will see God working through it.

I am more favorable towards decisions made after some thinking, rather than spontaneous emotional decisions (especially major decisions such as buying a home, marriage etc). Because there we have time to bring our burdens to Him and seek His guidance and finally making the ultimate decision. We bought a home in 2006, but later we realized that if we would have waited one more year, we could have got it for a better price. Homes prices reduced substantially here in Michigan in the last year. We took that decision in 2006 after much prayer etc. Should we regret now? I don't think so. Because there are many 'unknown' and 'unseen' facts which we couldn't get hold of with our finite mind. We might have waited for ever, not buying at all. Or we couldn't have found the right home at the right location like the one we have now etc.

Bino Manjasseril said...

Joel,

I am glad you commented. Those verses you quoted are very helpful.

I think the ultimate point is that we don't have to be 'restless' when it comes to decision making because we have a God who is asking us to 'rest' in all situations. I agree that we can't fix everything but what I notice in my life is that I keep waiting and waiting. One example is the 'giving' issue. We used to donate to a ministry in India and now as we understand the message of grace, we find it difficult to support them because we clearly know that they (this particular church) teach legalism. I got a call from that pastor few weeks ago asking me to donate to one of their VBS programs they are planning this year. He expects me to do it because I did donate last year for the same cause. Now, when it comes to giving I am more towards giving to ministries which help people to be free in Christ, who clearly drives people away from religion and to Christ. The other side in this particular situation is that the money we contribute is also going to be used to buy some gifts (schools bags, books, umbrellas etc) for the poor kids who attend who couldn't afford such. I want to give for that cause but not for spreading legalism. This is where I go into the endless 'waiting mode' and most likely pass the date on which they need it. I am not sure if it makes sense?

Joel Brueseke said...

Bino,

I know exactly what you're talking about! Briefly, on the house thing - I was going to mention this before but my comment was too long as it was - We bought our house in 1999. Long story short, there were a few reasons why I felt as if we were being led to buy this house. I felt (and still do feel) that this is/was meant to be. However, there are a lot of external circumstances that would cause me to think otherwise! This house has been a money pit in many ways!

-Within less than 3 months, we had a huge rain and we ended up with half a foot of water in our basement.

-Within the first year we had to replace the furnace and the air conditioning

-We have a different water problem with a leaking basement wall

-Our driveway has been breaking up over the years and is in bad need of repair

-Our windows are old and leaky and somewhat moldy and are in bad need of repair or replacing

-The list goes on. :)

Why would God lead us into this? I don't know, but I believe He'll lead us all the way through it all. In Him we live and move and have our existence, and even though our circumstances look increasingly worse "by sight," I've begun to rest more and more in His leading and guidance.

As for giving and stuff like that, one of the things I've done in the "unlearning" process is that I took a step back and intentionally stopped doing a lot of the things I was formerly doing religiously, unless I still knew in my heart that it was from a state of grace. In a sense, you could call this a "fresh start," but it's really more just that I wanted to take some time and just "be." I needed time to sit back and sort through some of the stuff I had done in my religious Christian life. When I was finally free to simply "be," I eventually began to be drawn back into some of the stuff and I also really saw how some of the other stuff was worthless! Or at least it wasn't what I was called to do.

Then, and only then, did I see more clearly. I still deal with some of the wonderings about what I 'should' or 'shouldn't' be doing, but more and more I'm less likely to do things out of guilt and fear, and more likely to do things because I'm drawn in my heart to do them.

One of the things for me was radio. I knew that a lot of the songs we played were legalistic, and I knew that there were conditions at the station that I really did not care for, but yet I knew that I was still called to be there for a time. Then, at a certain time, two years ago, I knew it was time to leave. I think it just comes with seeking Jesus Himself and walking in the freedom for which He has set us free. It's not usually black and white, that's for sure! :)

Bino Manjasseril said...

Joel,

I hear you!

Have you ever wondered how those people survive, who think once they become Christians they will have only good things in their lives? Remember people defines good things in terms of good house, good job, good family, good health, good community etc. Maybe God's definition of 'good' is different!

You said, "but I believe He'll lead us all the way through it all.". I believe that too. Its not that I like to believe it but I am convinced about it.

Thank you for taking time to share. It means a lot. This is what I call, real people talking real things!

About the 'giving' issue, I too have done the same thing, taking a step back and stopping many obligatory religious giving. I can't even tolerate a 'little' bit of pressure in this matter but If I am convinced by Lord, nothing can stopping me as well.