When I was a kid, the questions of life were easy. “Why is the sky blue?” “Do all dogs go to heaven?” “Why can’t I have more ice cream?” But as I got older the questions changed. They got harder. “Where should I go to college? “Is she ‘the one’?” “God, what do you want me to do with my life?” In other words, “Lord, what’s your will?”
Our Life Palette is a series of choices and decisions that ultimately determine if our lives reflect the masterpiece God designed us to be. We’ve all made some really good decisions, some really bad ones, and some really dumb ones. The more we come to know and understand God’s will for our lives, the more we can live in the really good ones. “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17 NIV)
God’s will is not a mystery that He’s hiding from you. He wants you to know and understand His will. He’s not sitting in heaven playing some cruel game just to keep you guessing. Quite the contrary—He is doing everything in His power to communicate His will for you to live as His masterpiece. Often the problem is you’re simply looking for the wrong thing. To make the Kingdom of God your primary concern, you need to be able to understand the will of the King so you can discern and discover His will for you.
First, God’s will is not an emotion.
So often we’re simply looking for a feeling, a wave of emotions to come over us, especially if we’re right-brained creative types. (I’m speaking to myself right now!) The problem is emotions can take us in the opposite direction of His will. We’d all like to have the emotional response that comes with a supernatural sign for every decision. If the Lord would only give us a burning bush like He gave Moses, surely none of us would ever get off track.
I live in the desert southwest where we have some of the greatest Mexican food in the world. Sometimes my emotions get dictated by the burrito I had the night before, not by God. It may not be the burrito for you—but it could be fatigue, hormones, an event you just experienced, or a movie you recently saw that particularly moved you. Our emotions are very unreliable and not trustworthy when it comes to answering the big question of God’s will. It’s too important for masterpiece living to be left up to the burrito from last night’s supper.
Second, God’s will is not a recipe.
Living as God’s masterpiece is not simply a logical, rational thing. Perhaps you’re more of a left-brained person and you’re looking for the step-by-step formula that always works to know and live by God’s will. What you really want are all the procedures and systems that lead you to it. Yet a formula or recipe has to be perfect each and every time; there is no room for failure. God has allowed us, in all of our humanity and with all of our fumbles and failures, to be His masterpiece.
When I was a kid I loved applesauce cake. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it was because we had plenty of fresh apples growing on my grandparents’ farm. I loved it so much that my mother taught me to make it for myself and I did quite often. (Mom may have thought this would make me want to bake or cook, but that didn’t take!) Once I was at my grandparents’ home for supper and I wanted applesauce cake for dessert, so grandma told me to make one, and I did. But I forgot one ingredient: sugar. It was horrible. No one would eat it. My grandparents’ faithful farm dog, the one who devoured all the leftovers, wouldn’t even eat it.
If God’s will were a formula, your life as a masterpiece would be worthless if you left out even one simple ingredient. There would be no room for failure or errors. God’s will is a part of the relationship He wants to have with us as His sons and daughters. Like any relationship, it is dynamic. The problem for us is that the freedom found in this dynamic will of God can often be the very thing that gives us consternation. The better we get to know Him and the more we develop our relationship with Him, the more we will know His will in the daily decisions of our lives. My wife and I have been married for nearly 30 years now, and every once in a while we will tell a story from our childhood that the other has never heard before. We’re still getting to know one another. It’s part of the joy and wonder of a relationship. Plus, the more we grow in our relationship and the more we know about one another, the more we are able to love each other and meet each other’s needs. The same is true in our relationship with God.
Don’t be afraid to ask God to guide you in His will. Arrogance will keep you from living life as His masterpiece. God wants to give you direction for this journey. Jesus’ brother James wrote this: “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:5-6)
God desires to communicate His will. That’s all a part of why He sent Jesus to the earth, to get up close and personal with us as human beings. That’s why He gave us the Bible, His Word. Some things are very clear, like the values we listed earlier; others are principles that He wants us to live by.
What is it that you already know you are to do, but haven’t done yet? You may just be waiting, but delayed obedience is disobedience. If there is even one thing you know you should do, or that He is leading you to do and you’re putting it off, do it now. Don’t let it be something that keeps you from living as His masterpiece. Obedience is another one of those values He wants on your Life Palette. “If you love me,” Jesus said. “Obey my commandments.” (John 14:15)