My wife and I will be celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary this coming November. I find it hard to believe that it has been that many years already. We were just a couple of kids taking vows and committing to love each other until “Death do us part” on the Friday night of our university reading break. When I look at our wedding photos I barely recognize us. So much has changed. We’ve changed. My hair has changed. And yet without being overly sappy I can honestly say that after these 15 years, we love each more deeply than we could have possibly imagined.
We know each other so much better now, and we’ve lived a lot of life together. We’ve had good finances and poor finances. We’ve had good cars, and ‘stop working in the middle of the freeway’ cars. We’ve owned and rented houses and changed our career paths. We’ve also added 4 boys into the mix, which has filled our lives with adventure, exhaustion, and mostly joyful noise. We have grown so much as we have journeyed through life together.
Rebecca and I know each other. We know each other’s likes and dislikes. We often know how each other will respond in any given situation. We know the best time to have difficult conversations. We know what energizes each other. We know the punch lines to the jokes we both tell, and we finish each other’s sandwiches.
I’m able (most of the time) to discern what Rebecca wants and needs. The reason I’m able to do so is not because I’m the most amazing husband, but it is because I have intentionally spent time over the past 15 years continually talking and listening to her. I don’t do this because I have to. I do this because I genuinely want to. Rebecca is my best friend.
What does all of this have to do with God’s will?
For some reason, we’ve made the will of God elusive when it doesn’t need to be.
A number of years ago we had Pastor Willie George come to our church as a guest speaker and he shared that the voice of God sounds like the Bible. In the same way I can easily recognize my wife’s voice in any situation, we can train our spiritual ears to recognize what God’s voice sounds like.
The challenging thing is that there is no short cut in order to develop this kind of relationship. It comes by simply spending time reading the Bible and praying.
My sheep listen to my voice, I know them, and they follow me.
The more time we spend with someone, the more we become like them and know what their will is. I am able to identify the difference between my own thoughts and the prompting of the Holy Spirit because I recognize the voice that I have been meditating on and studying. His voice sounds like His written word.
His will is always consistent with His word.
There are so many verses about how we are to conduct ourselves and live a holy life that is pleasing to God. Simply following the guidelines found in scripture (here[i]) will inform most of your decisions of your day to day life.
God spent an incredible amount of time and effort getting the Bible into our hands. It is written over the course of 1400 years by over 40 different authors inspired by God himself. He didn’t write the Bible so that He could read it. He didn’t go to all of this effort for His word to sit on a shelf collecting dust. Like a love letter, He wants us to read it over and over, in order to know Him and what His voice sounds like.
The great news is that you can know how God wants you to live your life. You can train your spirit to recognize and discern God’s will by renewing your mind to His word (check out Pastor Dave’s series: Under Construction). Our minds are renewed and transformed as we spend time reading scripture. And in doing so we are able to recognize what God’s will is for us.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.