Knowing God’s Will

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. ~ Thomas Merton

I took a class once on how to know God’s will. It was a large group and, as you might expect, there were a wide variety of views, varying from: You can’t –  to God will tell you where to park your car if you’re listening. Scripture was cited supporting every possible position and the debate was lively and endless.

I’m not much of a debater. I won’t presume to tell you how you can know God’s will. I can only tell you what I know about myself which is not all that much, as it turns out.

I was a Psych major. You know the type. I was one of those people who was always drawing out other people’s feelings while tabling my own. I would have described myself as hugely introspective. I thought that I thought very deep thoughts.

Merton was right. I don’t really know myself and the fact that I think I’m following God’s will doesn’t necessarily mean that I am.

But, along with Merton, I do want to follow Him and I believe that the desire to please God, pleases God. And that’s grace, isn’t it?

And so is this: I also believe that He will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust Him always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear,  for He is ever with me, and He will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Author: Debbie

A former counselor and public speaker, I'm grateful for many, many things - God's grace most of all!

37 thoughts on “Knowing God’s Will”

  1. Amen Debbie… Amen! Outside of knowing what is written; it is His will to redeem us, that we would be set apart to Him, that we would be thankful and merciful and loving… I think it’s a bunch of hoopla that I can know where to park my car (sorry, did I say that?). We simply trust. We trust that because we desire greatly to know His will, that He is leading… even though we don’t have a clue He is doing so. Guess that’s why He’s God and we’re not. I love the honest and realistic approach you present. Blessings good friend.

    1. dear mt –
      Yes, you did say it (I didn’t, but I so agree)! 😉
      I can only echo Merton’s heart here:
      “But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.”
      That’s my hope and my prayer as well.
      I love to hear your thoughts, my friend.
      Thank you!

  2. Thank you for helping us with that all important thing that none of us wants to be out of . ..His will! What a perfect time to remember grace, gracious friend! I always think of these verses when I wonder about His will . ..
    Rejoice always
    pray without ceasing
    in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
    love you and God bless you!

    1. dear Debbie –
      Beautiful passage for this topic – always, without ceasing, in everything – that pretty much covers it, doesn’t it?
      Thank you, sweet friend! 😀

  3. Debbie– “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.” Just want to emphasize what Merton says. I know you agree.

    Personally, I have been prideful and so self-guided that I thought I could not be off the path of His will. It was those times I should have stopped and questioned, heartily.

    I’m so inspired by your faith.

    1. dear Heidi –
      I love this particular quote and yes, I wholly agree!
      This wasn’t (as I interpret it) Merton’s confession of struggle but rather his proclamation of faith. He trusted that when he was weak, God would be strong. He trusted the One Who knows his heart, even when he doesn’t.
      You make such a good point. The more adamant I am about knowing it all, the more I need to take a step back and question my source (typically, when I get like that, I am my source).
      Isn’t it funny that we recognize Pride and Prejudice as a great work of literature but fail to see it without the capitol letters in our own every day lives? Thank you for adding your wisdom to this walk we’re on.

  4. Hi Debbie. A very special quote and a comment full of wisdom.
    Oh how we long for certainty, but it’s not one of God’s gifts, nor a fruit of the Spirit. He gives us faith rather. And though our faith he guides us step by step rather than mile by mile. Occassionaly, though, we get a glimpse, and how special is that! But it’s only a glimpse, and it doesn’t replace our faith.
    Every blessing.

    1. hello Ian –
      I so appreciate Merton’s lack of presumption and humility in this quote.
      While we often talk about how we long to KNOW God’s will, to be wholly honest, I don’t always do what I do know – much like Paul in expresses in Romans 7:15.
      Yes, you’re very right – faith is step by step, not mile by mile!
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts, my friend.

  5. I use to frustrate myself with this question until I read a tiny little book that reminded me, his will is for us to know Him. The more we know him, the more we follow his way. I also like Micah 6:8 (from the Message):
    But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,
    what God is looking for in men and women.
    It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
    be compassionate and loyal in your love,
    And don’t take yourself too seriously—
    take God seriously.

    I don’t mean that to sound like I’m a know-it-all….still so much to learn and too often I fail to follow even his simplest desires for me.

    1. hello debby!
      What an interesting interpretation of what it means “to walk humbly with your God” – “don’t take yourself too seriously— take God seriously”.
      That brings to mind a thousand ways I have/do/can take myself too seriously diminishing the majesty of God.
      I’ll be thinking of this for a while. 😀

  6. Hi Debbie
    Grace it is, my friend

    Although we may not go down the right road – if we continue to pray and trust – He will always guide us where He wanted us to be in the end
    He will continue to tap your shoulder, wake you from sleep and keep impressing your thoughts until His Glory is revealed in your life story
    I agree with you and Merton as long as we have the true desire to please our God – He will find a way to use us

    Beautiful Post
    God Bless
    susie

  7. I highly recommend David Benner’s, Desiring God’s Will. He makes a very graceful case for the idea that looking for God’s will in the minutia of life is exhausting, error prone, and misses the point. What we really need to know is that God’s will is for relationship and restoration.

    1. hello dear judi
      I’m always encouraged to journey on when I find out that you and I are on the same page in the same book!
      I particularly love this quote from Merton – so humble and unpretentious and gentle.

  8. I also took a course with Moody Bible School entitled “Knowing God’s Will.” I agree with you. “I also believe that He will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust Him always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for He is ever with me, and He will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

    BE ENCOURAGED! BE BLESSED!

  9. I’m a firm believer that God doesn’t just give us one chance to hear Him–whether it’s about something major, or finding the parking space. I just don’t believe that if I somehow miss His voice today, that’s it–what I KNOW of Him, is that He always comes back to it–perhaps from another direction, different source, different words–until I get the message. This is not a problem for Him, doesn’t take up too much time for Him, He doesn’t sigh heavily and ask why I’m so “slow”. He’s the Good Teacher (as well as all the rest), so He knows that one lesson plan/teaching tool will not fit ALL the students–He’s the Creator, He’ll figure out what works for each one of us. 2 cents from sis Caddo…

    1. I am always encouraged by the fact that it took Abraham 25 years, and still he made a mess of things (just ask Sarah). But God loved him through it all, and didn’t think he was slow either.

    2. dear sis Caddo S.G –
      I completely agree. He’s patient where I’m not and gracious when I’m not and never considers completing what He has begun more trouble than it’s worth.
      I’m pocketing your 2 cents, by the way – always worth keeping. 😉

  10. That quote is so right on the money. It seems to me that at times it hard if not impossible to know God’s will.

    As we start out getting to know the Lord, we struggle to understand His will
    (still do) but as we grow and learn…don’t we also struggle to implement what we know is his will?

    This is where the all important grace of God comes in, God says it’s ok, I’m here…look at me not the mistakes and failures you have made.
    God judges by the heart, not the actions, good thing for me or I would be in serious hot water.

    If you have ever made mistakes in life…then you are acquainted with the wonder of God’s grace.

    Thanks for a great post Debbie
    Blessings
    Greg

    1. Oh Greg –
      We would indeed be boiling in the same pot of hot water if not for His wondrous and amazing grace!

      If you’ll indulge me in an unorthodox quote, this is what often comes to mind when I’m thinking about knowing God’s will:
      “It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.” ~Mark Twain

      I rarely stumble because I seek and can’t find/know His will. When I fall, it’s because I know and choose something else, which, just for a moment, pleases me more.
      Blessings to you, too, Greg!

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