When Elsie and I were newlyweds, I went to work for my dad and his advertising agency in Chicago, Illinois. I worked for him for a little over a year before I went off to basic training in the United States Air Force. Because Elsie and I lived in an apartment in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, it was convenient for my dad to leave his home in Wheaton, Illinois, pick me up, and keep on going down the Eisenhower Freeway into the city. The trip took approximately one hour depending on traffic levels. For one hour each way my dad would talk to me about customers, sales, promotion, product art and design, production, in short, how he did business and led an ad agency. It was my graduate course in business. I learned a ton! So much so that when my dad was on a business trip and a crisis arose, the staff would ask me how to handle it. I would tell them what my father would do because I knew from our daily car lectures what he’d do. When my dad would return I’d rehearse for him what had taken place and how I’d responded. Invariably he’d say, “Yep, that’s just what I’d have done.”
Can I apply this to knowing the will of our Heavenly Father? Yes! Rather than seeking signs, putting out fleeces, and all the other machinations we go through to know God’s will, I would submit that it is not as confusing or mysterious as we make it to be. Here are principles drawn from my experience with knowing the will of my earthly father:
- We cannot know God’s will unless we spend time with Him. I spent every weekday morning and evening for two hours riding in the car with my dad. For us as Christians we cannot know the will of God unless we spend time with Him. This means regular, consistent, unhurried prayer to Him both speaking and listening to Him. The Bible says “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8).
- We cannot know God’s will unless we pay attention to what He has already told us. I could speak of my father’s will and tell others his will because I heard it for two hours every day and I was listening! Christians can know the revealed will of God by reading what He has already told us in the Bible. This means we need to read the Bible daily to know what He has already told us is His will. Here’s what God says, “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s Word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!” (Hebrews 5:12).
- Finally, we cannot know the will of God unless we have a heart to obey it. We don’t need to necessarily like or agree with His will. We only need to obey it. I may not have agreed with everything my father taught me but I had to operate according to his will because he was the boss and I didn’t want to incur his displeasure! If we disobey what God has expressly told us in His Word we will incur consequences. We can obey out of duty or delight. God reveals His will to those who delight in Him and have a surrendered heart to obey. The Bible says “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord” (Colossians 3:22).
My goal in life is to do the will of my Heavenly Father,