"...strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." -- Matthew 6:33
HAD BEEN BROWSING an interesting book from RBC Ministries called How Can I Know What God Wants Me To Do? over the past week or so. The invaluable tips from the book fit neatly into an acronymn, GUIDE:
. Go to the Lord. (Matthew 6:33, Proverbs 3:5-6)
. Understand His principles. (Ephesians 5:17, 2 Timothy 3:16-17)
. Investigate your options. ( 1 Corinthians 2:12-16, Acts 6:2-4)
. Discuss it with others. (Psalm 1, Proverbs 12:15)
. Express your freedom. (Genesis 2:16-20, Philippians 2:13, Corinthians 6:12)
"The bible does not provide a map for life -- only a compass." -- Haddon Robinson
SUDDENLY IT'S CLEAR. A hypothesis which i've discussed with my devout Buddhist sister makes more sense than ever: Most times, God's will is very broad and principle-based (such as visions, missions, values, or strategic plans) while our wills are more specific and action-oriented (such as tactics or operational plans).
God wants to create a wonderful world in partnershp with us. We are not supposed to be mechanical robots with no will of ours other than God's. That's why God gives every one of us a free will. That's why in discernment, our desires form one major consideration besides God's will. And God loves to grant us our wishes so long as they are within His much larger (immense!) will.
To take an example from the RBC book: "Consider Adam. God put him in the Garden of Eden and told him to name the animals (Genesis 2:19-20). Did Adam get all flustered and say, 'But Lord, I want to make sure I name them exactly what You think they should be names'? No, God gave Adam freedom to choose the names that pleased Adam, and it was fine with God."
Another example from the book: "Will it violate a biblical principle if I buy a Cadillac instead of a Ford? It would if I trampled all over my wife's feelings on the matter (violation of the principle of Ephesians 5:25-33), or if my decision meant that my children wouldn't have food on the table because my loan payments were too high (violation of the principle of 1 Timothy 5:8). On the other hand, my choice of cars could be an area where I have a great deal of freedom without violating a biblical principle." (more details)
(See also Our Will within God's Will II.)
A story (from the The Monastery of Christ in the Desert site) that supports my theory that God will help us realize our will(s) when they are within His will:
"According to tradition, [St Benedict] had one sister, a twin, by the name of Scholastica. Although little is actually known of her life, it is thought on good authority that she, too, had from an early age consecrated herself to God. Whether her life was lived as a solitary, at home with a family or in community with other nuns is lost to us.
"St Gregory tells us that Scholastica used to visit her brother once a year and that their meetings would take place in an outbuilding near the gates of Monte Cassino. During their final visit, as it was drawing to a close, she expressed the desire that he not leave her so soon, that they should talk until morning 'of the joys of the Heavenly life.'
"Benedict quickly declined, insisting that he could not for any reason remain for a night outside his monastery. Upon his refusal, she is said to have joined her hands together and, putting them on the table in front of her, reclined her head over them in prayer to God. When she once again raised her head, there was immediately such a violent thunder storm that neither the Abbot nor his monks were able to venture forth.
"To him she said, "I asked thee and you would not listen. I asked God and he heard me." And so, as she had willed, they spent the entire night together in prayer and holy conversation."