Over the last week, the question of knowing God’s will has arisen a number of times. How do we know God’s will? What is God’s will? What is our place in God’s will? As I reflect on this issue, I find myself wondering if we’ve lost our focus trying to figure out God’s will, rather than actually living the lives before us. In short, God’s will for His people is that they might live life and live it to the full. (John 10:10)
One problem with the Western culture is that we are, generally, a goal-orientated culture. While we may not be goal-orientated people, our measurement or indication of progress and success is based upon what goals have been achieved. We measure our identity and purpose in life on what we have achieved and what we do. Yet, anyone who takes a step back and evaluates this perception will recognise that something is not quite right.
Let’s take a look at the story of Joseph. Born into a large, wealthy family; his father’s most favoured son out of 12 sons; and then, given dreams that his family would bow before him, that is, he would rule over them (which he dared to share with the rest of his family—arrogant or stupid and naive?!). Yet, from that comfortable life to which he was born into, he is taken by his brothers and sold into slavery. From the high place most favoured of his brothers, he is subjected to the lowest place as a slave.
This cycle repeats over and over again throughout his life, he gains favour and comes to high position, only then to be thrown to the lowest pits in life. Yet, somehow, in the midst of all this, he perseveres with life. It is evident from his story (as you read it) that God is with him, but you can’t help but wonder what was going through Joseph’s mind. “Where are you God? … God, what are you doing? … God, when will I see my dreams come true?” The list goes on, one can’t imagine that it was easy for Joseph.
At the end of Joseph’s story, he recounts all the events of his life (particularly what his brothers had done) and speaks out:
But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children.” So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them. (Genesis 50:19-21)
Life is a journey. God’s will for us is never defined or identified with one point of our life journey. Just as Joseph, while destined for great things, is not defined by his position which he reached at the end of his life. Joseph would not be anyone were it not for the journey on which God had placed him. We are no different, God’s will for our lives, and our identity and person, is not found in our “destiny” but found in the journey on which God has placed us.