Fear and God’s Will
Fear and God’s Will
By: John Stone
In our town, we have a tradition each June for parents of graduates to host parties to celebrate the accomplishments of their children. It is always interesting to talk with the different students and ask about their plan for the coming future. Answers each year range from the well thought-out to the completely ambiguous. Most are asking the age-old question of how they can determine God’s will for themselves.
Initially, I thought about sharing some suggestions concerning how to discern the will of God (e.g. fasting, praying, seeking wise counsel, and waiting on the Lord’s movement for direction). However, at one of these parties, a young man who just finished college asked me to catch a coffee with him. We met earlier this week and he shared very candidly that he feels a bit paralyzed as to what his next move should be. He expressed concern that he might make the wrong choice, and this immobilizes him.
As I asked him some questions, it became clear to both of us that his paralysis is rooted in fear. For him, this fear originated from a skewed belief that comes from a phrase often espoused within the church. It goes something like this: God has a perfect and a permissive will. The scope of this article isn’t to defend or deny this, but instead to highlight how this thinking can forge a false belief about God’s character.
If we don’t sin and make all the right choices God wants us to make, then we get to live a fantastic life within His perfect will. However, when we sin, or make a choice that really wasn’t God’s best, we are forced to settle for God’s permissive will. Taking a misstep in a small area might not seem too devastating, but what if I marry the wrong person, or take the wrong job? Now my whole life has been fouled up by my bad choice! It’s no wonder that my young friend feels a great weight in his decision. The sorrow that comes from thinking we’ve missed God’s perfect will usually leads not to repentance, but to death.
Please understand that I strongly believe in making decisions based on the criterion I referenced earlier. We must seek the Lord and do our best to discern His direction for us. Even when we’re unsure how to move, however, we must resist the enemy’s call to fearfully freeze into inactivity. Instead we can and must rest in the freedom that Romans 8:28-29 brings us. God works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. There is nothing I can do (including making poor decisions outside His will) that can thwart His purposes in my life.
In this way, our confidence in decision-making is rooted in a proper understanding of God’s character rather than our own ability to choose correctly. Regardless of our sin, poor choices, or lack of taking God’s “perfect” direction, God remains faithful to us. We can experience freedom in decision-making because of God’s faithfulness and power.
If you’ve made a decision that you currently regret, the hope is that God has not doomed you to a life of second-best. Even now, He is at work to conform you to the character of Christ. If you are in the midst of making a decision (big or small), seek the Lord and know that regardless of your decision He will accomplish His purposes in you.
My young friend and I ended our conversation that day by reminding one another that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). May He give you the grace today to resist fear and move boldly in that spirit of power, love and a sound mind.