This article is an excerpt from the Bible study What Keeps You Up at Night? by Pete Wilson, available to order from lifeway.com/upatnight.
Your Dream and God’s Will
God’s will isn’t as complicated as Christians sometimes make it out to be. Usually, it’s not so much about what you do, where you live, whom you date or marry, or where you work; it’s more about who you’re becoming. God’s will is that we love God and love others (see Luke 10:27), and we can do that a lot of different ways.
When we think about doing God’s will, we need to avoid paralyzing self-doubt that prompts us to agonize over simple decisions when God may be saying, “Either one is great. Just choose one and glorify Me with your choice.”
Abraham demonstrated a life of faith and surrender to God’s will. Throughout his life his faith was tested, and he passed. It might seem that once Abraham saw the birth of his son, which occurred in a way that was beyond anything he and his wife could have hoped for under normal circumstances, he would have been on cruise control from that point forward. After all, the man was one hundred years old! Surely by this point he was ready for a well-deserved retirement and no more surprises, right?
Yet in Genesis 22 God instructed Abraham to sacrifice his only son. In the larger view of this narrative, God didn’t want Abraham to kill his son. God had condemned human sacrifice (see Lev. 20:1-5). But God did want Abraham to surrender Isaac in his heart; He wanted Abraham to keep Him first in his life, loving God more than he loved anything else in the world, including God’s gift of this promised son.
Abraham responded with trust, obedience, and faith, telling his men that he and Isaac would return after they finished worshiping God (see Gen. 22:5) and telling his son, “God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering” (Gen. 22:8). Hebrews 11:19 commends Abraham’s faith, saying, “He considered God to be able even to raise someone from the dead, and as an illustration, he received him [Isaac] back.”
Abraham’s experience points forward to God’s sending His Son—His only Son—into the world as our sacrificial Lamb to bring us back into a relationship with God. Even Jesus, in the great mystery of being fully God and fully human, willingly surrendered His desires to God’s will for His life—and for His death. In anguish He prayed to His Father, “If You are willing, take this cup away from Me—nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). Jesus is our prime model of surrendering to God and living for His will. If we want to surrender to God’s will, we’ll live a Christlike life.
As the ultimate hero, Jesus faced humanity’s final and most intractable opponent—death—and emerged victorious. It was a harrowing experience, and it required of Jesus the most unwavering faith and the most undaunted courage the world has ever seen. Yet He faced the challenge and triumphed over it.
We can’t tread any path that our hero hasn’t already walked before us. There’s no demon and no enemy—including death—we’ll ever face on our journey that our hero hasn’t already conquered. No matter what our quest is or where our adventure takes us, Jesus Christ has already gone ahead of us to show the way and give us victory. He told His disciples, “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world” (John 16:33).
To live the life of passion and adventure God desires for you, you have surrender your plans to His will. Romans 12:1-2 says:
Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”
Surrendering to God means you choose to align yourself and your purpose with His greater purpose. This type of surrender is the opposite of defeat. When you surrender to God, He gives you the victory by renewing your mind, transforming your life, and leading you into His perfect will. Surrender doesn’t mean you’re giving up on your dreams, just that you’re handing over to God the responsibility for the outcome.
Giving up your need to control your life is a battle you’ll fight, in one form or another, every day you walk this earth. Control is an illusion. Even when you think you have it, you really don’t. Instead of seeing your lack of control as negative, you can be thankful for the constant flow of new experiences, ideas, and opportunities that God brings into your life. Trust Him to do a better job of holding the future He’s prepared for you than you ever could. His plan for your life is greater than you could ever imagine.
Excerpted from What Keeps You Up at Night? © 2015 Pete Wilson. Published by Lifeway Press®. Used by permission.
Pete Wilson is the founding and senior pastor of Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tennessee, a committed church community that he and his wife, Brandi, planted in 2003. Over the course of 10 years, Cross Point has grown to reach more than five thousand people each weekend through its four campuses located around the Nashville area and online. Pete gained national attention with his best-selling book Plan B, a title that has been printed in five languages and launched Putting Plan B into Action, a six-week DVD curriculum that serves as a study companion to the book. Empty Promises, Pete’s much-anticipated second book, followed. He is also the author of Let Hope In.
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