Welcome to the final chapter of Dr. Gerald Mann’s The Search for Inner Peace, Chapter 8: Finding the Will of God.
We can never experience inner peace unless we are in sync with what our Creator meant us to be.
I was around 14 years old when the Baptists in the little town I grew up in announced that they were having a revival meeting. I didn’t know what a revival meeting was, but I knew there were a lot of girls at this revival meeting, so I decided I’d go.
One night after the service they had a social time for the young people and the traveling evangelist was there. He was one of these big-haired guys with a red coat and white shoes. One by one he went around the room talking to the young people, and when he finally got to me he pointed his finger right in my face and said, “God has a predetermined plan for your life, and if you don’t find it and follow it, you are going to hell!”
This scared me to death, because if God had a predetermined plan for my life and I didn’t have any say or choice in the matter, what if I couldn’t live up to it? Or worse still, what if He wanted me to do something I didn’t want to do? Then I would be doomed.
The same frustration I felt that night actually carried over into my adult life. I became a minster and I didn’t quite fit. But I was afraid to quit. I had the “didn’t fit—can’t quit” syndrome and I was miserable.
Everything came to a head in 1979 when I wanted to relocate the church I was pastoring, and the members voted it down. When a pastor says he thinks a church ought to relocate, he is also saying he doesn’t think it will work where it is. I knew that before long they would be forming a posse and I decided to get out of town ahead of it.
A dear friend let me use his ranch house for three days and I went away for a retreat to seek God’s will for the rest of my life. It turned out to be the most liberating three days of my life! I found a peace and a clear vision that I never knew I could have, and it came from studying and restudying Romans 12:1-2. What I discovered is that we don’t actually find the will of God. God’s will finds us when we develop the basic attitudes Paul talks about in this passage.
The Glad To Know Attitude
God’s will finds us when we are eager to know what He wants us to do. Therein lies my problem, and probably yours too. Most of us don’t really want to know what God wants us to do because we are afraid that He might want us to do something that we don’t want to do. We are suspicious of God’s intentions
Remember the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden? The serpent appears to Eve and says, “Wow, nice garden!” (That’s a loose translation.) “All you can eat, lovely flowers, no mosquitos and bugs to bite on you, and you can eat anything you want.”
Eve answered, “Yes, anything but one thing. We can’t eat from that tree in the middle of the garden.”
“Why not?” the serpent asked.
“Because God told us if we eat of the tree in the middle of the garden we will die.”
I can hear the serpent now saying, “Is that what He told you? He is trying to put one over on you! You won’t die. He doesn’t want you to eat it because if you eat it you will become like Him.” Therein was sown the seed of suspicion. Adam and Eve suspected that God’s motives were not in their best interest.
I believe Adam and Eve are symbols of all of us. You and I are like Adam and Eve. We are suspicious that God is not after our best interests. There is only one cure for this and that is to meet God as a God of mercy. That is why Paul says that because of God’s great mercy He is appealing to us.”
What happened to me in my personal retreat is that for the first time I fully accepted the fact that God is always in my corner, and whatever His will is for me, it is best. God doesn’t want to rob me of my dream. What He wants me to do is hitch my dream to His scheme. What is His scheme? It is to reconcile Himself with everybody. God wants to love you. He wants you to be in His family. He wants to bring the whole world to Himself, and He uses people who know about His mercy to reach other people. God doesn’t want to take away your dream, He wants you to attach your dream to His scheme. The only dream we should ever give up is one that would obstruct God’s love.
Do you really want to know God’s will? Do you trust Him enough to know His will? If you are glad to know, God’s will will find you.
The Glad To Go Attitude
God’s will finds people who are eager to do what He wants them to do. When He calls us, we are glad to go.
God doesn’t reveal Himself to tire-kickers. Do know what a tire-kicker is? It is a phrase used by car salesmen. A tire-kicker is someone who comes on a car lot, walks around and kicks a lot of tires, but doesn’t buy anything.
Why would God waste His time revealing His will to us if we aren’t going to do it anyway? Most of the time I have a “wait and see” attitude. “God, You tell me what You want me to do, then I will decide if I want to do it.” But God doesn’t work that way. God doesn’t reveal Himself to tire-kickers. He reveals Himself to people who are eager to go.
I read an article by a psychologist who studied the differences between those who are happy in the workplace and those who are unhappy. She said, “It doesn’t matter what job you have or what career you are pursuing. The people who are happy in what they do have a different way of looking at their work. They see their life’s work as an offering not an offering plate.”
This is what Paul meant when he said that we should offer ourselves as a living sacrifice to God. Make your whole life an offering. The more you pour out, the more it gets replaced. If you make your life a collection plate where you exist just to receive, life gets confusing. Unhappy people see themselves as collection plates. Happy people see themselves as offerings. The “glad to go attitude” will help the will of God find you.
The Willing To Grow Attitude
God’s will finds people who are eager to keep on growing. That is why Paul says, “Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind.” (Romans 12:2) Don’t let the world press you into a mold where you can’t grow, move, and create. Let God transform you from within by totally renewing your mind. Be glad to grow. The number one symptom of a happy person is the will to keep on growing.
You know, I’m a sucker for the circus. I love it! I put on funny hats, I eat the cotton candy and popcorn. I love the elephants and lions. But what I really love are the trapeze acts. I’m afraid of heights. My height is about as high as I can get without getting dizzy. To watch the trapeze artists climb up there is fascinating enough. But the thing that stops my heart is when a performer is swinging back and forth with his back to the bar behind him, and he lets go in mid-air, pirouettes, and catches the unseen bar behind him. In that instant when he is suspended, my heart stops. To me, that is the greatest analogy of what it means to find God’s will. You must let go of safety, and trust that God is on the other side. I prefer to hold on to one bar and wait until I can reach the other one before I let go.
I got a letter recently from an eight year old boy named Danny who was given an assignment in school to explain God. This is his explanation:
“One of God’s main jobs is making people. He makes them to replace the ones who die so there will be enough people left on earth to do things. He doesn’t make grown ups, just babies. I think it is because they are smaller and easier to make. That way He doesn’t have to spend time teaching them to walk and talk. He can leave that to the mothers and fathers.
“God’s second most important job is listening to prayers. An awful lot of this goes on. Some people, like preachers and things, pray at other times besides bedtime. God doesn’t have time to listen to the radio or television on account of this. God sees everything. He hears everything. He is everywhere—which keeps Him busy. So, you shouldn’t waste His time by going over your parents’ head and asking for something they said you couldn’t have.
“Now Jesus is God’s Son. He used to do all the hard work, like walking on water and performing miracles and trying to teach people who didn’t want to learn about God. They finally got tired of Him preaching to them, so they just crucified Him. But He was good and kind and told God that they didn’t know what they were doing and to forgive them, and so God said, ‘Okay.’
“His Dad (God) appreciated everything He had done and all His hard work on earth, so He told Him that He didn’t have to go on the road anymore. He could just stay in Heaven. So He did. And now He helps His Dad out by listening to prayers and taking care of things without having to bother God. He’s like a secretary, except more important. Now you can pray anytime you want to and they are sure to hear you because they have things worked out so that one of them is on call all the time.
“You should always go to church on Sunday because it makes God happy, and if there is anybody you want to make happy it is God. Don’t skip church to do something you think is more important like going to the beach. This is wrong. Besides, the sun doesn’t come out at the beach until noon anyway.
“If you don’t believe in God you will be very lonely because your parents can’t go everywhere with you—like to camp. But He can. It’s good to know that He is around when you are scared in the dark or you can’t swim very well and you get thrown into the deep water by the big kids. But you shouldn’t just always think of what God can do for you. I figure God put me here and He can take me back anytime He pleases and that’s why I believe in God.”
“Of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.” “Out of the mouth of babes comes great wisdom.” Why? Because Danny’s heart is open. He hasn’t stopped growing. God’s will finds people who are glad to keep growing.
The popular movie, “The Apostle,” is a story of a stereo-typical Pentecostal evangelist who is a womanizer, drinker, and money grubber. The movie starts at the pinnacle of this preacher’s career, but then his wife has an affair. The evangelist takes a pistol and wants to kill the guy but He keeps hearing the voice of God saying, “Thou shalt not kill.”
The next time the preacher sees this man at the ball diamond, however, he hits him in the head, kills him, and then flees for his life. He makes his way to a small town in Louisiana and cons a black preacher into letting him have his little ramshackle, abandoned church. He can’t completely become a scalawag, however, and all through the movie he still leaves open a little window in his heart. You see the progression of how the window gets wider and wider because he cannot shake off the calling of God. He finally ends up on a chain gang, leading the other convicts in chants about Jesus.
There is a great message in that movie: If you keep a little crack open in your heart, then God can do great things with you no matter how broken you are.
So don’t go trying to find the will of God—God’s will finds you…
It finds you when you are glad to know. Don’t be afraid to know the will of God. What He wants for you is best for you.
It finds you when you are glad to go. But remember—He doesn’t reveal Himself to tire-kickers. Peace and God’s will go together.
So, go to a quiet place and simply ask God, “What do you want me to do? What do you want me to be? How can I hitch my dream to your scheme?”
Be glad to know, glad to go, and glad to grow.
- This series of Posts is based upon Dr. Gerald Mann’s book The Search for Inner Peace. The author and the MakeTrix have received the permission of Gerald Mann’s wife, Sandy Mann, to use the contents of his wonderful masterpiece in this series of articles. We are honored and humbled and wish to thank her for her generosity. This series is of course, and as always, provided free at no cost to the reader.
- Dr. Gerald Mann, The Search for Inner Peace (Austin, TX: Gerald Mann Ministries, 1999), pp. 111-123. ISBN: 0-9678502-0-7, Out-of-Print.
- For more information, read our previous posts:
Introduction: The Search for Inner Peace
Chapter 1: Challenging Our Illusions
Chapter 2: Accepting the Truth About God
Chapter 3: Feeling God’s Forgiveness
Chapter 4: Giving God’s Forgiveness
Chapter 5: Making Matter Matter
Chapter 6: Dissolving Anger
Chapter 7: The Power of Laughter