Ryan thought he knew what to do. They offered him the biggest promotion of his life into a position he coveted. The salary and prestige would be everything he hoped for. But now, three different people in the church had cautioned him about taking this job. One didn’t know why, but that was their gut feeling. Another one gave him some logical reasons why he should reject the promotion. The new job would mean moving about 500 miles to the regional office headquarters. The kids were all doing well at school and Ryan had just joined the Governing Board of the church. So this person said it didn’t appear to be good timing to make the move. The third person said they heard God say this job would not turn out as well as Ryan hoped.
While Ryan pondered the input of these people, he and his wife received their latest Netflix movie in the mail; it was titled “Fun with Dick and Jane”. The story featured a guy who gets his dream job only to have his career come crashing down around him within a week. Ryan was afraid God was now using Netflix to tell him something.
But when he tried to pray about the situation, he felt like his prayers hit a lead-lined ceiling above him. God didn’t seem to respond to his prayers in any way he could discern. His mind waffled between believing this promotion offer was the blessing of God to feeling like he was being set up for a huge disaster. Ryan didn’t know how to separate what he wanted, what God wanted, and what the enemy wanted. He went to one of the pastors in the church for guidance. That pastor asked him if he had gone to the Lord about his decision. He moaned inwardly as he heard this. On his way home, he decided to just flip a coin. It seemed to make as much sense as anything else he was getting.
His biggest problem was he felt that God had let him down. I had spoken to a seminar he attended six months before, and he remembered I had said it is always toughest to hear God when we’re making decisions. He sat down the night before he had to give an answer to his company and sent me an email. He wanted me to help him hear what God was saying in all this. What I am going to share with you in the next few blog entries is a condensed version of a conversation he and I kept up over a few weeks.
Is There An Absolute Best Direction?
The first question we must settle is this: Does God have a perfect plan for our lives? If we answer yes, it begs the next question: Will that plan happen whether or not we go along with it? The first question talks about God’s Will. The second question addresses God’s Sovereignty. I believe I can answer both questions by looking at two significant, and parallel, sections of the Bible.
In Romans 8:26 and 27 we read, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” There are so many good truths to learn in this passage and it would take hours to delineate them all. But in point form, let’s notice the following truths that are explained here:
- We are weak in some way
- The Spirit of God helps us in our weakness
- The weakness relates to not knowing what we ought to pray for. (Note: There is an “ought” here. That means that any time we are seeking to pray and ask God for something, there is a right thing to pray and/or ask for).
- The help the Spirit of God gives us is in the form of praying on our behalf, interceding deep inside of us at a level that goes deeper than words.
- The one who is “searching our hearts” is also the same one who knows the mind of the Spirit. Only God knows that. Therefore, this is God.
- When the Spirit intercedes, it is exactly the will of God.
- Now the good part. Since we are being shown here as “weak”, we assume that we are getting help. So how does the Spirit praying without our being aware offer any help to us? If we were to find out what He is praying (and since he lives inside of us, that option is always there), we could agree with it and it would mean God would answer our prayers.
- This means that the perfect will of God does depend upon our at least being in agreement with it. It also implies that once we are in agreement with it and agree by talking to God about it, we will do what that will suggests. You can’t agree with the will of God and then not live accordingly. That is called “disagreeing with the will of God.”
The other passage of Scripture is similar to it. It is found in Hebrews 7:25 and is speaking of Jesus’ ministry to us in heaven: “Therefore, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” As in the previous passage, there is much to understand here, so let’s go through it in point form.
- The word “save” (sodzo) means to rescue, deliver and protect. This is not talking only about forgiveness of sins, but about continual protection.
- Saving completely suggests there is an incomplete salvation.
- We come to God through Him.
- He always lives to make intercession for us. (Note: some have said that this intercession refers to his blood which pays for our sins. But in several other places in Hebrews, we are told that his death was “once for all” and that it did not have to be continually repeated. Yet all the verbs in this verse are in the continuous present or perfect tenses in Greek which suggest that the intercession has ongoing results. This cannot be speaking about our sins being forgiven).
- He is interceding for us all the time.
Putting both of these passages together, we can draw these logical conclusions.
- There is a plan that God has for our lives.
- He wants us to know that plan so we can agree with it and find the salvation/protection/blessing God desires for us.
- We need to know that plan and it is something that Holy Spirit and Jesus (who always agree with each other) are right now praying for us.
- If we can find out what they are praying for us and agree with that prayer, God will set us on the right road.
I can see you saying, “that sounds easier said than done.” It is. That’s why we will keep looking at how this all works in the next segment.