Most of us have spent some time doing word-search puzzles. You know the kind I’m talking about. They are the ones that require you to find a list of words or names, each of which is imbedded in a large square of seemingly random letters. Usually the list of words or names has a specific theme such as Bible characters, movies, farm animals, names of Presidents, or whatever.
Sometimes the creator of a word-search puzzle will purposefully trick the reader. For example, let’s say that one of the words from the list is “remember.” Well, right there, in a sequence that is running vertically, horizontally, or diagonally, you find the letters: r-e-m-e-m-b-e-q. Naturally, your eyes fall upon those letters r-e-m-e-m-b-e, and by the time you get to that last “e,” you are thinking, “Got it.” But then comes that last letter, the “q,” and you realize that you’ve been had. It wasn’t coincidence that strung those first seven letters together, either, was it? No, whoever wrote that word puzzle had made a point of building a false trail into it that would end in a “gotcha” moment for anyone who would follow that trail.
I take no pleasure in reporting that sometimes discerning God’s will can be like following one of those false trails from a word-search puzzle. You think you are on a trail that is going to end in a certain something happening, but then reality suddenly smacks you in the face and you realize all too well that you’ve been following a false trail that Satan has designed to deceive you. He laid down the tracks, you boarded the train to follow them, and they ended in a concrete barrier.
In Romans 12:1-2, we find Paul’s familiar advice for figuring out God’s will for your life. He writes:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (N.K.J.V.)
Please notice that word “prove” that is found toward the end of that passage. It translates the Greek word dokimazo, a word that carries with it the idea of “testing.” That’s why the English Standard Version translation of Romans 12:2 renders the word “by testing” and the New International Version translation renders it “to test and approve.” The point is, if you think something is God’s will for your life, that something should be able to stand up to having its validity and truthfulness put to the test.
And how can you tell if it passes the test? If you are a Christian, one sure way involves your inner peace (or lack of it). In Colossians 3:15, Paul says to Christians, “… let the peace of God rule in your hearts.” The Greek word translated as “rule” there is brabeuo, and it literally means “to arbitrate, to decide, to act as an umpire.” This makes the application of the verse easy to understand. The inner peace that comes from God should serve as the umpire that makes the final call on whether or not something is God’s will in the life of the Christian. If the peace is there, the Christian should proceed onward until it isn’t, but as soon as the peace vanishes, that Christian should come to an all-stop and change direction.
Christian, I don’t know where this post finds you right now, but perhaps you are sincerely trying to figure out what God’s will is regarding a certain decision, choice, or course of action. If that’s you, a good prayer to regularly pray goes like this: “God, if I am following a false trail that Satan has designed to deceive me, help me realize my error as quickly as possible and get onto Your true trail for me.” If you pray that prayer and then start sensing a loss of God’s peace in your life, that loss of peace is your warning bell. It’s God’s way of letting you know that you are on a false trail, one that will never lead you to whatever destination He has in mind for you. To play off my title for this post, R-E-M-E-M-B-E-R that God taking away your peace is Him telling you, “The trail you are on is a wrong one; don’t let Satan keep leading you to its bitter completion.”