Life does not have a tag on it that says, “Care instructions: Hand wash with mild soap. Air dry only. Do not bleach. Do not iron. Made in China.” God’s will is not a protocol and to find it we simply have to complete a checklist. We don’t put in something and out comes a customized plan for our future. This is the basis for many pagan religions out there—if a sacrifice is given in this manner on that date under the auspices of these conditions, then the powers that be will give you X, Y, and Z.
Though many identify themselves as Christians, they may be pagan Christians, doing the same thing but replacing pagan rituals with rituals of Bible study, prayer, tithe, lifestyle changes, church attendance, and so on. It’s not that these exercises are wrong, but the order of their cause and effect is inverted (more on this in Lesson 13). Many do their devotions every morning, live pious and religious lives, return tithe, and do all the “dos” and avoid the “don’ts,” but still do not know the will of God.
As stated in inTro, the problem is not with the method, nor with God. He can reveal His will through the wind or a small still voice (1 Kings 19:12), through lightning and thunder, through animals like a donkey, and through other, most unexpected media. But the simple problem is us.
In Genesis 18, the city of Sodom was about to be destroyed for its wickedness. To save Lot, God conveyed information and instructions to Abraham. The great question emerges, Why didn’t God first reveal His will regarding Sodom directly to Lot? Why go through Abraham at all? James 2:23 reveals that Abraham was a friend of God. As a friend, the Lord would not withhold anything from him. In the narrative of the two human characters, one was qualified to know God’s will, while the other was not. What was the difference between the two men?
Though Lot served and worshiped God, he had secret intentions toward Sodom. Genesis 13:12 says that Lot pitched his tent near Sodom. By Genesis 14:12, Lot was living in Sodom. And at Genesis 19:1, he had a leadership position and sat at the gate of Sodom. He didn’t have the mindset in which news about the destruction of Sodom would have been taken well. Though both men were eventually told about the future of the city, God’s conversation with Abraham went very differently than with Lot (compare Genesis 18:23–33 with Genesis 19:12–13).
God’s conversation with Lot took place within the context of urgency and panic. God’s conversation with Abraham was prefaced with God asking Himself if He should hide the judgment of Sodom from His friend. In Genesis 18:19, God says that He knows Abraham. In other words, God is saying, “I really know him well. How can I not tell him?” All these verses paint a picture that Abraham’s heart was willing to obey while Lot’s heart was in a different place.
When it comes to ascertaining God’s will, it’s not about the method, technique, or procedure. Rather, the revelation occurs as the natural extension of friendship and relationship. It is not dependent on the state of the heart at a particular time of life; it is not dependent on the amount of theological accuracy in one’s knowledge; it is not how accurately or precisely we follow a protocol. Instead of in a tag, the will of God is revealed in the relationship with God.