Sunday, November 4, 2007

Is This Farm God's Will for Us?

A subject that comes up, as we look for land, is knowing if a certain place we are looking at is “God’s will for us.” We sometimes pray that God would clearly show us if a certain property is or isn’t His will for us. The last place we looked at was “clearly not God’s will.” But what do we mean when we say that? How do we determine what God’s will is for us in these areas that are non-biblical? Granted, a farm is not God’s will for us if buying it means cheating, lying, or otherwise breaking His commands to get it. Naboth’s vineyard was never God’s will for King Ahab, no matter how good he felt about owning it.

We’ve come from an evangelical church background where determining God’s will in these non-biblical areas of job, housing, moving, etc becomes an exercise in discerning one’s own feelings about a thing. If I feel it is God’s will, than it is (barring any scripture that contridicts my feelings.) Often the scriptural support is found in Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” So in this case saying that a particular farm is not God’s will for us means that we did not desire it. It did not meet our standards of what we wanted in a farm.

But is this right? Does God ever desire hard things for us? Sure I want a large farm with fertile soil, beautiful woods, a pond with plenty of life and a rambling farm house recently renovated with central air, a downstairs in-law suite and plenty of room for entertaining. Who wouldn’t? But does that mean that it is only God’s will for me to have the best? Some of my Christian brothers would say, “Yes!” But I wonder. I only have to look at Jesus to see an example of one who truly did delight in the Lord, yet God’s will for Him was hard. “Father, if it be Thy will, let this cup pass from Me.” But it wasn’t the Father’s will, and so He endured the cross for the joy set before Him.

We are moving in more reformed circles now, and I recently heard that the reformed understanding of knowing God’s will is that the Lord only speaks to us through His word as it is illuminated by His Holy Spirit. In other words, it is not correct for me to expect the Lord to tell me if a given property is “His will” for us or not. So what do we ask?

Perhaps a better way to approach a given property is to ask a whole different set of questions: “Can we honor the Lord on this property?” “Can we be a light for Him here?” “Can we be used of the Lord to renovate this property to become the fertile land that He desires to His glory?” “Can we be a light for Him in this neighborhood?” It is certainly easier to look for a place that appeals to our sense of comfort and ease, but we must remember our Lord’s example, “Not My will, but Yours be done.”