Waltke begins the book by highlighting all of the ways that people, both past and present have sought the will of a divine being. From casting lots (a fairly common practice in the Old Testament), to seeking a miraculous sign, to watching the stars, to fortune telling, and consulting mediums, mankind continues to seek the will of power greater than themselves. Waltke explains that believers, in some cases like the pagans of old, still seek an unforgettable divine revelation to make them sure of the decision they are making instead of seeking a closer and more intimate relationship with God. Such is the premise of Waltke's book, and to that end, he establishes some key principles that can prepare the believer to obediently follow God's guidance as it is revealed through a deepening relationship with Him.
The first step Walkte establishes in his book is to read your Bible. It sounds fairly simple really, and I for one am already doing that on a fairly regular basis. The question is, 'How does reading my Bible help me in making decisions according to God's will?' Like the quote says above, my personal relationship is built upon how well I know God's heart and character, and the best way to find both of those things is through His own Word. Throughout the Bible, we see God's heart for His people unfold, and it is by reading and meditating on His heart and actions that God can begin to change our thoughts to His thoughts that we may know Him, and His truth.
The second point Waltke makes is to develop a heart for God. In other words, 'One way I know God's will is by the desires of my heart...If you are walking close with the Lord, and He shapes your character and influences your life, then He is also shaping your desires.' (p. 86). For me, I've definitely found that if I am walking close with the Lord, His desires will bubble up in me, and they usually match perfectly with the gifts and character qualities that He has created in me. After all, that's why God makes us the way He does, because we each have different God-given passions and purposes, and it is through pursuing an open and intimate relationship with Him that these passions are charged up inside us. To summarise, the desires of your heart that were placed there by God, come alive the closer your draw towards Him.
Third, seeking the counsel of others is another important principle in finding God's will. Waltke highlights this idea by showing the amount of times that the author of Proverbs urges the reader to listen to wisdom, and the times that Paul encourages the church to develop every facet of their church community so it may encourage the body of Christ as a whole. I've always been one to be cautious of others advice because the Word of God always needs to take precedence over the counsel of others. What I needed to learn however, was that if the mentor, or community of believers surrounding me are pursuing the heart of God as well, than others' contributions should be in line with what I've heard in God's Word, and it should be an encouragement to me. That is why, Paul and Barnabas, whom we all know had a passion developing in their own lives to preach the Gospel beyond Judea, were confirmed and set apart by the body of Christ to follow His leading.
"That's why my following of God is based upon my relationship with Him rather than on a special 'sign'. Rather than looking for some sort of wrapped spiritual package from the Almighty, I want to rely upon my closeness to Him...I don't go through a divination process to discover the hidden message of God. Instead, I examine how God has called me to live my life, what my motives are, what He has given me a heart for, where I am in my walk with Christ, and what God is saying to me through His Word and His people." (Waltke, B 1995, p. 16).
While these three principles hold half of the process outlined in Walkte's book, I'm going to be looking at the final three principles next month...so stay tuned for that. In the end, the most impressive lesson that I'm learning through this book is that finding God's will is not an obscure treasure hunt in which I may or may not succeed. It is a lifestyle that leads to God developing His heart in me â a heart that is confirmed in His word and by His people.
Blaine Packer is studying a Bachelor of Cross-cultural Ministry at Worldview Centre for Intercultural Studies in Launceston, Tasmania.
Blaine Packer's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/blaine-packer.html