One of my don’t miss favorites is the weekly Question and Answer series on the Thru the Bible radio network, hosted by the beloved Dr. J. Vernon McGee. By the way, the “J” stands for John, but because so many men-folk in his family were named “John” he decided to go by his middle name. Here is McGee’s answer to a listener’s question: What is God’s will? You can click on the banner to hear his audio response, the text of which is transcribed with comments following:
Now, may I say this, there is today a belief that God’s will is sort of like a stop-and-go sign, or its like a marker on one of these freeways — a half a mile to a certain turn-off, and you turn off there — and that’s all there is to it. And I’m afraid there are a great many Christians today giving the impression that it’s that simple because I hear people talk about God’s will as if it was a light sort of thing. They had no trouble finding out what it was.
And I’m of the opinion that a great many people today that are talking so glibly about the will of God and how easy they got into it — and they just can’t understand why the rest of us don’t find it so easy — I’m not sure they’re in the will of God. What I think is that they have picked out — and these people who I have noted, particularly that talk like that, generally find a pretty easy way of life — and they accept the easy way of life as being God’s will. I don’t think it is at all.
I think that, frankly, they found an easy way and they call that the will of God because they just can’t imagine that their heavenly Father — and they’re His dear little child, and His little pet, and He just would never put a burden on them or give them any difficult task, and He’d certainly remove all the stones from their pathway — so they take an easy course and they call it the will of God.
Now that disturbs a great many sincere Christians today because they’re not able to find God’s will that easy. May I say to you — if you’re one of those like this dear lady — don’t be disturbed, and I’ll tell you why. God’s will is not a stop-and-go sign where you come to a corner and the green light comes on and you know that that’s the way to go, or you come to the crossroads and the marker’s been put up there for you and you’re able to follow it right on through.
In fact, some of them go so far as to give the impression that there’s an angel standing at their crossroad’s not only pointing, but telling them which way to go. Why, a dear lady tried to tell me that — an angel appeared to her during the night and told her that a certain course was the right course.
It’s quite interesting, that angel sure did fool her because it didn’t work out as she thought it would work out, and you know what it was? It was when I first came to the church of the Open Door. She said she was led to buy a house out here and she was going to take in boarders. She was confident that was God’s will for her — and this house, why she’d even seen it in a vision — and when she went to buy it, well, there it was just like she’d seen it in her dream.
Do you know where that house is today? Well, it’s not there because the freeway goes right over where it was. Isn’t it funny that the angel told her to pick a house right on the freeway? And the poor lady, believe me, she nearly lost her shirt when she — maybe I ought not to say that — but she lost quite a bit when she had to give up all of that because apparently, why, there were other complications.
But it’s interesting today to hear people talk about how easy it is to find God’s will. It’s not easy at all. I remember when I was having a great deal of struggle as a young preacher attempting to find out what God’s will was concerning a matter, I heard the late-Dr. Harry Ironside whom I regard, and did regard very highly, I heard him say this, he said, “In 90% of the decisions that I have had to make in life, at the time I made them I did not know for sure it was God’s will. I only knew that I was doing the best I could and I seem to be led. It was not until later that I found out what God’s will was. In most of the cases, I found out the decision I made was in God’s will, but some of them were obviously not in God’s will and I had to back up.”
May I say, that was the greatest comfort I ever received because I had listened to these super-pious people talk about how easy it was to find God’s will. Now, why is that true? Why doesn’t God put up a sign board, or why doesn’t He have an arrow pointing out ahead showing us which way to go? Well, I’ll tell you why.
God does not give road maps to any individual. And these super-pious folk who seem to have a road map, I don’t think they do. I don’t think anyone does, and if they do then God’s given them the second best. You see, the reason He doesn’t give you a road map and let you know is because if you had a road map you’d have your nose stuck in the road map and take your eyes off of Him.
I think He wants us many times when we made a decision to walk lightly, to walk softly if you please, not knowing whether we’re in God’s will. And you know, at a time like that you’ll stay closer to God than you will at any other time.
Oh, I have found that on several occasions I wasn’t sure I was in the will of God. I remember that when I first came to California — I think the first three months that I was out here were the most precious months I ever had walking with God. You know why? I wasn’t sure I was in His will. Wasn’t sure I was in His will. It wasn’t until about six months after that I was sure I was in the will of God. You see, I believe that you’re not always going to know, and the reason is God’s trying to keep you very close to Him.
So don’t be disturbed when these people pop up, and you’ll always have these super-duper, pious folk popping up today, and believe me they act as if they’ve got a road map for the rest of their lives. If they have I feel sorry for ’em. They’re going to miss a great many blessings. But I just think they’re kidding themselves. And my dear, fearful friend, may I say to you, when you come to the crossroads you do have to make a decision. By prayer — and you know whether your heart’s yielded or not — then you step out. And I’m confident of this, you’re going to know whether you’re in God’s will, and you’ll be drawn very close to Him. And those will be the most precious moments and days of your Christian life. So don’t mind if you’re not quite sure at every step that you’ve made.
McGee doesn’t tickle your ears, but makes them ring. People want to hear the truth, and they want it delivered with conviction. Do we trust our dreams, like the woman who bought the house, or do we simply pray, make a decision and trust in God to see it through? I tend to agree with Dr. Ironside on the latter course of action, though the only right decision I’ve ever made is to follow Jesus Christ. That is the will of God for each of us, but you alone have to decide.
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