A coworker gave me Found: God’s Will by John MacArthur after I spoke with that coworker about a frustration I have. I say have because it’s still a frustration of mine, but I’ll explain as I talk about this review.
I was sitting in his office, telling him how much I’d be willing to do God’s will if I just knew what, exactly, he wanted.
I remember reading Samuel, where David would just ask God, “Shall I attack?” and God would answer back, “Attack, and I’ll deliver them into your hands.” (I’m working from pure memory here, so I can’t offer the book and verse).
I remember in Exodus where God spoke to Moses.
I’d read this and think about how much easier it would be if God would just give me a direct order.
In fairness, it’s not as if I’m that good (or any good) at following the direct orders I know. I’m human, therefore I sin. But I do genuinely want to know the decisions I make are the ones God wants me to make.
My coworker told me about a book. He handed it to me a few days later. I picked up the Audible version because I knew I could get to it sooner, but I’m glad to have they physical edition to refer to.
What this book does is explain a few key principles about God’s will. The premise is we can’t understand the smaller details of God’s will and purpose for our lives if we’re not following the basic tenants that exist in scripture. Then he breaks those tenants down into five simple categories.
I feel I’d be violating Mr. MacArthur’s copyright if I summarized all five points. I also feel like he does it so well, my summary would fall short. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand what God wants.
With that said, I appreciated the summary. I value the clear, direct commands that he pulls not from his opinions, but from scripture, which is God’s word.
That list has become one that I pray on every morning before I start my day. I find it helps me get my mind right. It helps me focus my attention and give me purpose through the day. I do more than is on the list, but I try as well as any man of flesh can, to check off my choices and actions against that list. I often find areas on which I fell short when I look back at some things and compare it to the list. It’s not a burning bush, but it helps me feel confident that I’m on the right track, or it helps me adjust my behavior if I don’t think my actions line up.
While I won’t summarize the whole list, I will posit an opinion on one of the five tenants of God’s will as listed by Mr. MacArthur.
“God wants you to suffer.”
If you’re anything like me, you just read those words and said, “What now?”
I promise I wasn’t ready for that phrase when I heard it. But when I reflected on that segment and thought about the scripture, I adapted my thinking. I hope it’s not out of line with Mr. MacArthur, but I think this interpretation is a bit more in line than the demand for suffering and more in line with what that suffering is. This is my interpretation, and I’d defer to Mr. MacArthur in pretty much any scriptural discussion. Since I can’t sit and chat with him directly on the matter, I can only posit how I better understood that phrase after reading and contemplating the information.
I’d like to suggest the following phrasing: “God wants you to know that if you follow his will and live as he wants you to live, that you will suffer.”
When I think of that phrase and read the rest of Mr. MacArthur’s segment on that tenant of God’s will, I simply think it puts a focus on the warning more than the demand. To explain more, I don’t think God wants us to suffer, but rather understands that those who follow his will and live as we’re supposed to live will encounter persecution and suffering. The demand then implies that if we follow the first four tenants of God’s Will (which are far less ambiguous or controversial, that suffering will be the natural result.
So when I say my morning prayer, I pray this: “God, if I should suffer, let it be for your sake. Let it be because I am following your will, for if I know this, I will take heart and work harder to endure. Whatever the cause of my suffering, Lord, let me endure it. Grant me the strength to perceiver. Let my enduring be a testament to my love, respect and fear of you.”
I’m still developing and growing in my faith, so it’s possible I’m wrong. It’s possible I just don’t like the idea that God wants me to suffer, and perhaps he does literally want me to suffer. At this point, however, I don’t think that. I think (and I’m just a guy here folks) that I’m supposed to live right and understand that the world will pressure me to turn to the desires of the flesh or temptation. I also think that any suffering I encounter (if, and only if, I’m living right) will be for my own good and for God’s greater purpose.
Regardless of that one segment, I want to make it clear that this book gave me a better sense of purpose. It gave me something to focus my energy on, and these tenants make me believe that if my focus is on those things, the rest will take care of itself. It’s been a few months since I’ve read this particular book. My life isn’t perfect. I still suffer. When I remember this book, I take heart in that. I can better analyze the cause of my suffering. Am I suffering because I’m doing God’s will? Am I suffering for his sake? If so, stay the course. Believe that I’m doing what’s right and know that I’m building my treasure in Heaven. If I’m suffering, and I realize it’s because I’m denying God’s will or disobeying his commands, I correct my actions. While I am prone to counting and gathering statistical data , I haven’t kept track of the ration of my suffering against God’s will or my disobedience. What I can say though is I hurt a little less. When I correct myself, I notice things get much better much more quickly.
I still struggle with some things, but I admit those struggles have more to do with the fear that what I might want to do isn’t what God wants me to do more than my understanding of his purpose for my life.
If you’re interested in Christianity, if you are a Christian, and you want to be better in your faith or you want to walk closer with God, this book is a quick, easy-to-understand, summary of his will as stated in scripture.
Thanks for reading,