Living By The Compass
“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” (Hebrews 11:8)
Have you ever felt like Abraham? Going through life not knowing where you are going? Over the many years that I have been a Christ follower I have heard the same question over and over again…”What is God’s will for my life?” It may not be said exactly that way but the intention is there. What should I do? What decision should I make? What would God be most pleased with? When people ask what the will of God is they are basically stating that they want their lives to be pleasing to God, they want to be where God wants them to be and to do what God wants them to do. And they don’t want to suffer the consequences of missing the mark.
In some ways, people see the will of God as a bull’s eye on a target and if you don’t hit the bull’s eye you will be out of the will of God. This kind of thinking comes with a heavy price tag: If you are not in the will of God, the thinking goes, then you are out of the will of God and being out of the will of God is not good place to be! They believe that God’s will is a map and if you follow that map exactly you will find happiness, peace and fulfillment. The are convinced that God has the one career, school, spouse, ministry and house for you. Some people even think that God has a map for the right car to buy and the exact food to eat. So one better pray hard and receive good counsel if they are gong to be sure to make the right choice and please God. And you better hope that map doesn’t have any detours!
We live in a time when we are totally reliant on our Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to get us where we need to go. We no longer have to ask questions, we just punch in or destination and presto the map outlining the quickest, most efficient way pops up. If we don’t like that particular way we hit “alternate route” and we have another map that adds on two minutes from the first map. (GPS systems are, in essence, technologically advanced maps.)
Maybe Abraham would have known where he was going if he used his GPS! But instead of a map that tells you exactly where to go to reach your exact destination , what if instead God had us follow a compass? A compass gives general direction and lets you know if you are moving towards the desired area. A compass helps you orient North, South, East and West relative to the position you are currently in, What if the will of God was less about destination, location and vocation and more about being the person He desires us to be? For many years I struggled with “hitting the mark” and was never quite sure if I was in the will of God or not. I trusted that I was but worried that I might not be exactly where he wanted me to be or doing what he wanted me to do. I wasn’t confident that I was a very good navigator.. Was this the sermon series God wanted me to preach? Should we start this new ministry? Which house should we live in? Where should we go on vacation? What person should we hire? But when I started to accept that God had a purpose for my life and that purpose had to do with me and my relationship with Him and the kind of person He was forming me to be to live according to His will then I no longer felt the burden to “get it right.” Paul writes to the Thessalonians what the will of God is: “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified…For God did not call us to be impure but to live a holy life.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3).
I know that God has called us to live sold out to Him; to be followers of Jesus in word and practice. We are invited to give our bodies, souls and spirits over to Him to be used for His purpose. The Creator of all the universe desires to make us holy and set apart for His use. This is God’s will for our lives. How we get there may be different for each person. There is not an exact map and the destination does not look exactly the same in every person or every context. But if you are heading in the direction of His holiness, if you are using a good compass that helps guide you in the direction of His love, if Christ is the center of your life, then it doesn’t matter where you live or what you do, you will be in the will of God. Even if, like Abraham, you don’t know where you are going.
What do you think? How does it make you feel?