“(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)” (2 Cor. 5:7)
Walking according to the will of God here in this life can be a difficult task for the children of God. God’s children are appropriately consistently compared to sheep in the scripture. Sheep are not very intelligent animals (when you are feeling pretty smart sometimes just keep in mind you’re just a pile of dust plus the grace of God) and are prone to wander away from the fold and away from the profitable fields of grazing, if not for the watch care of the shepherd. God’s children are commanded to walk and follow our Heavenly Father’s will by faith in God, not by sight.
Determining the will of God in your life is not a jigsaw puzzle, where you are required to supply the missing piece. The will of God is not a math formula, where if I deduce all the other information, I can solve for the remaining variable and determine the correct action I am supposed to perform or correct decision I am to make in any given situation. (Personally, I sure wish life – particularly the will of God – was a math problem, because then I could solve the problem, find the variable, and always determine the exact correct answer.) Our determination of God’s will in those manners would not require faith to walk in our lives because we would definitively know what the correct answer was, and furthermore, our confidence would be in our own math skills of determining the right answer instead of our confidence being in our loving Heavenly Father to guide us. Faith, however, teaches us that we cannot solve a formula to determine the will of God, but rather we are commanded to walk by faith, trusting God completely, even though the full and comprehensive vision of our future path is not yet clear.
“As it is written, The just shall live by faith.” (Rom. 1:17b, Habak. 2:4). Those who have been made just by the blood and grace of Jesus Christ on the cross, now live and walk here in our lives by faith. We do not have an exact blueprint of our lives to follow, but we do have principles expressed to us in scripture that we can apply to make godly decisions that mold and sculpt our individual lives. God has not unalterably fixed the outcomes of our lives, but He has unalterably fixed the final eternal destiny of His elect – to be in God’s eternal kingdom and to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. If we had the exact script beforehand that our lives would ultimately take, we would have no need to walk by faith and trust God in the midst of every single day. If we knew a good outcome was on the horizon, in our natures we would inevitably coast with a lackadaisical attitude, not putting forth the hard work that was the actual reason of God granting us that blessing. However, if we knew a bad outcome was coming in the future – the death of a loved one, severe sickness, the loss of a job, financial distress, etc. – we would live in a constant state of fear and paralysis, focusing on and worrying about the future trial instead of living in a manner that glorifies God today in the here and now. When we consider these things, it’s a great mercy from God to His children to withhold from our knowledge the ultimate path of our lives and to not let us know exactly what the future holds. Instead, we are forced to simply walk by faith, trusting God, not walking by sight from our confidence of the knowledge of our future.
Faith – by its own biblical definition – is based upon things that we cannot see or verify. Faith cannot be based on sight otherwise, faith is no more faith. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1) Even though faith is based upon something that we cannot see with our natural eyes, faith has a foundation of substance and evidence. Faith is not frivolous wishing or hoping or merely positive thinking. On the contrary, faith is the end result when we examine the evidence of the faithfulness of God, the love of our Heavenly Father, the providence of God and His angels in our lives, and we place hope – a confident expectation (we expect it to happen) – that God will fulfill His promise to us. God will never leave us, nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5). God will provide for the righteous and care for his family and seed (Ps. 37:25). We assess the evidence of God’s promises. We believe in a God that we cannot see, and we have faith that God will faithfully uphold His promise to us as well.
We believe in the evidence of an unseen God, by all the things that we can actually see and verify around us. “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” (Heb. 11:3). This verse is teaching us to examine the world around us that we can see, to place confidence, hope, and ultimately faith in a God that we cannot see who created everything in this world that we do see. Faith in our lives reaches the same logical conclusion. We see the examples of God’s faithfulness to the saints in the Bible. We see the times past when God has provided in our lives and in others’ lives around us. We think on the times that God has guided me according to His will in days already gone, and then we have faith to commit our future path to our Heavenly Father as well.
God does not puppeteer and absolutely control the actions of men, but He does oftentimes guide His disciples in the path that they should take. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.” (Ps. 37:23) “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.” (Prov. 16:9) God oftentimes will overrule and intervene in the poor decisions that have been devised in a man’s wicked heart, and instead directs His children in the godly path He would have them to take. God’s directs His children in His will usually in a quiet, serene impression upon their heart by His Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit rarely reveals Himself in a loud, public, cataclysmic event such as a great fire, wind, or earthquake. Rather, God often speaks to the heart of His children in “a still, small voice” (1 Kings 19:11-12). The Holy Spirit is depicted in scripture as a peaceful, serene, and harmless dove (Matt. 3:16) and is never portrayed as a loud, proud, strutting rooster.
While discerning the will of God may not be as simple as a math formula, we actually have something better. I would much rather commend my future to a Sovereign God who loves me beyond measure, Who can actually providentially bless and fix my problems, in contrast to me knowing what is coming and trying to fix the problems myself. We are commanded to walk by faith, and not by sight here in this world, but God has not left us to grope around in the dark. God inspired His word – the scriptures – to be our lamp and light as we try walk faithfully here in this world (Ps. 119:105). God has also promised to guide us, to direct our paths here in this world, when we pray to God for guidance, are diligent to walk by faith, and then we trust the outcome to Almighty God – “He will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee… And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” (Isaiah 30:19b,21)