About a week ago, I happened to drive by an estate sale not too far from my home and decided to stop and browse. As I walked through, I wondered about the circumstances surrounding the sale. It appeared to me that perhaps the homeowner had passed away rather unexpectedly. There was still food in the cabinets, toiletries in the bathrooms, and clothes in the clothes hamper.
It was as if they had gone out to run some errands and someone came in and starting selling their stuff.
Suddenly, all of the possessions that they had accumulated over a lifetime had a bunch of strangers rummaging through them. All the things that had been such an important part of their life were now only desired if they were a real bargain. It had become just a bunch of stuff to be disposed of one way or another. To be honest, it was sad and depressing– but thought provoking.
I mean, at some point, we’re all going to depart this earth (unless Jesus comes first, which is a whole different discussion). We’re all going to leave our stuff behind as we move elsewhere. None of it is going with us. The stuff that we have alarm systems to protect today will likely be rummaged through by people that couldn’t care less about what it meant to us or how hard we worked to get it. And a chunk of it won’t be wanted by anyone at any price!
So in light of the inevitable futility of accumulating more and more, what is the desire that should dominate our daily life? What is the legacy that we should want to leave when we go?
I think that Jesus laid out perfectly what the dominating desire should be for our life in one simple line of what we refer to as “The Lord’s Prayer”. It is a line that many of us know by memory. It’s a line that should form the desires of our families, churches, schools, businesses, and governments.
But at some point, it is a line that has gotten lost among all the stuff:
“May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)
OK, I sense that you are underwhelmed, but think about it: Is there a single problem in our world today that would not be overcome if God’s will were being done on earth as it is in heaven?
So shouldn’t the overwhelming desire of our life be to do God’s will personally and to see it done collectively throughout our world? Shouldn’t the desired legacy of our life be that we did our best to advance God’s will in our generation?
But how do we do that? Amidst all the stuff that life entails, how do we know and advance God’s will in our particular time and place?
Obviously, the simple answer is that we need to know what God’s will is and then we need to do it. But sometimes, the simple answer is not so simple. Sometimes we really don’t know what God’s will is in a certain situation or about a particular topic.
But most often, the answer is hiding in plain sight and is available to us through one or more of three avenues:
1. THE BIBLE
You’ve probably heard it before, but the Bible really does express the will of God on earth in written form. Focusing on the biography of Jesus that we find in the first four books of the New Testament pretty much lays it out for us. The will of God on earth was perfectly modeled by Jesus in His time on earth.
So if we would all think, talk, and act like Jesus, we would have it nailed. If we would just do what Jesus told us that we should do, we would be batting 1000. We would genuinely see the kingdom of God evident on the earth in our lifetime.
And it has never been easier to find God’s will expressed in the Bible than it is today. We can have the Bible available to us every minute of every day right on our phone. And we can google almost every conceivable topic and be directed to verses of the Bible that address our topic of the moment.
But nothing can replace a dedicated time each day to immerse ourselves in the Bible. It doesn’t have to be long. It just has to be intentional and consistent. If we have accepted Christ by faith, we have been given the gift of God’s Spirit in our lives that can transform the written words of the Bible into perfect and personal guidelines for every day of this life.
It has been my experience that it is impossible for me to remotely experience the will of God without spending time with my Bible. You can call it quiet time, daily devotionals, Bible study or whatever. But it is an essential component to knowing and experiencing God’s will.
Another way that we can find and experience the will of God on earth is through direct communication. God really does express His will in ways other than just through the pages of the Bible. Just think about it for a moment. The teachings of Jesus did not come from the Bible. They came by direct communication from Him. Jesus communicated directly with people as he walked the earth. He still communicates with people today. That may sound weird to you, but God really can make His will known to us individually and personally.
But we have to cooperate with His efforts to do that. We have to have an open channel of communication where we can bring our thoughts, concerns, and questions directly to God.
We have that open channel through prayer.
But to know and experience the will of God for our lives, prayer must be a two-way street. We must also ask Him for His thoughts, concerns, and answers. And then we must be willing to act on what direction that He gives us.
Otherwise, prayer is basically just a wish list.
3. THE HOLY SPIRIT
Even with a focus on the Bible and on prayer, admittedly there are times where it seems that God is silent. I have heard it said that the Bible is silent on some issues. There are times when I have sought direct guidance through prayer where I didn’t feel that I got any answers.
But I have come to believe that the silence of God is more of a perceived silence than one of reality. I believe that God has either already communicated or is actively communicating His will on every issue in one way or another. It may be through our conscience, our intuition, our gut feeling, or a host of other ways. I think the communication is there, but we often fail to recognize it.
“For God speaks again and again. Though people do not recognize it.” (Job 33:14)
If you have stayed with me so far, I assume that you really do wish to cut through all the stuff of life and see God’s will on earth as it is in heaven – or at least see us get closer to it.
Fortunately, Jesus cut through all the clutter and went directly to the point of how to see that happen in our lifetimes. He gave us the perfect model of how to leave behind the worthwhile legacy of His will being done on earth through our lives. And He did it with just four words:
LOVE GOD, LOVE OTHERS
If we can master that, our legacy is guaranteed. And it sure beats just leaving behind a bunch of stuff.