There is an old story
preachers tell about a man
trapped on the top of his house
during a flood or hurricane or
tsunami (insert your own natural
disaster). The water is swiftly
rising. As this man sits on his roof,
fearful of being swept away by
the current, he cries out to God,
“God please deliver me.”
A few moments later, a farmer friend arrives with his
boat. “Hey, friend, want a ride to safety?” he asks.
“No,” replies the man on top of his house. “God is going to
An hour later, the water is up to the gutters. A voluntary
rescue person comes by on his yellow raft. “Hey, let’s
get you off of there—and on to safety,” he yells.
But the man on top of his house refuses to go. “God is
going to deliver me.”
Another hour passes and now the water is halfway up
the roof. Roof Man is now on top of his chimney,
nervously looking down at certain death and destruction.
Fortunately, a Red Cross volunteer swings by in a canoe
and offers to ride Roof Man to safety. But Roof Man
refuses. “No, God is going to deliver me.”
A couple of hours pass by and the water sweeps over
the top of Roof Man’s house. He is carried away by the
current and drowns. When he gets to Heaven, he meets
Jesus and says, “I though you were going to deliver me.”
Jesus looks down at Roof Man and says, “I sent a boat,
an inflatable raft, and a canoe—but you refused each
We’ve all heard this story and every time we hear it, we
laugh, right? But quite often this is the story of our
attempts to discern God’s will.
I can’t tell you how many college students who tell me, “I
just want to do God’s will.”
This is good. I wish more young people would surrender
themselves to God’s plan for their lives.
But quite often those well-meaning college students or
teenagers or even young married folks act as if God’s
will is some sort of vague, hazy thing. A vapor that can’t
be grasped. It’s almost as if they want God’s Will, but
don’t every think they’ll have a shot at actually finding it.
It really doesn’t have to be this way. Here are two
truths that should change the way we think about God’s
(1) It is Satan who wants us to be confused,
directionless, and ineffective.
(2) It is God who has a preordained plan for
us, who has given us specific steps, and who
wants to see our lives matter.
So, knowing those truths, how do we wrap our arms
around that seemingly mysterious thing called, “God’s
will?” Here are four concrete ways in which God
speaks to us:
1. God speaks through circumstances.
Its funny, Christians routinely blast atheists and atheism,
but we often act as if there is no God. We complain
about the uncontrollable events in our lives as if we’re
just here by chance, left to sort life out on our own.
But life isn’t dog-eat-dog. God is in charge of this world.
God is in charge of our little world. And the events that
He allows—getting fired from a job, meeting a future
mate, getting rebuked by a pastor or Christian leader, the
family we were born into, the town in which we live,
the skill sets, talents, and gifts we possess—are all part
of God’s divine blueprint for our success.
None of this happens by chance. God is not up in Heaven
pounding his fist against his head saying, “Whoops, I really
messed up with Dan.” No, God didn’t mess up. God didn’t’
make a mistake. God isn’t ever caught by surprise.
So you can do one of two things. You can continue to
live as the world lives. You can stick to the motto, “Life
is random, you get out of it what you make of it, I can’t
help the way I am.” Or you can embrace your life—your
life right now—as God’s will.
Yes, what happens to you that’s out of your control is
God’s will for your life.
2. God speaks through opportunities.
Remember the guy with the boat? God presented to
him opportunities and he refused them. A long time ago I
had a friend who constantly agonized over every
decision or every opportunity and wondered, “Is this
Meanwhile, God presented him opportunity after
opportunity. He wanted to get married, but no girl was
good enough. Oh, but he didn’t say that. He said really good
spiritual things like, “It’s not God’s will.” Oh yeah? Did you
talk to anybody about it? Did you pray about it? Did you
ever consider that this could be an opportunity to
And on and on it went with this guy. A dozen ministry and
job opportunities were presented, but he never pursued
any of them. He hemmed, hawed, quoted a lot of
Scripture verses, but never made a move.
Ten years later I had lunch with him. And even though he
has held down a job and even gotten married (finally
found Miss Right), he is still in that pondering, hemming and
hawing stage. I fear that at the end of his life he’ll be like
Roof Man and God will say, “I brought along this
opportunity and that opportunity and you refused to
God works through open doors and opportunities. It’s
that simple. These are not just “lucky” occurrences. If
you want to do God’s will, do as one of my Bible College
professors used to say, “Go. Do something and God will
3. God Speaks Through Spiritual Counselors
This is where most of us slip up. We live a lone-ranger
Christianity and refuse to listen to wise spiritual
counselors . I believe that God’s plan for the Christian in
this age is through the local church. Every believer should
not only be a part of a local church, but should voluntarily
put himself under the accountability of that church.
Now, for young people, this is a tough swallow. Why
should I let any pastor or anybody control my life? But
the truth is this. The Bible talks over and over about the
value of wisdom. Wisdom is the ability to make good
decisions, spiritual decisions, and God-honoring decisions.
But young people don’t have a lot of wisdom. That’s
why we need to sit at the feet of pastors, trusted
lay-leaders, parents, mentors, etc. Every major decision I
have ever made in my life I have done with the approval
and consent of my pastor. Why? I trust my pastor. He’s
a man whom God has sovereignly put into my life to help
And you know what? I’ve been blessed every time.
There have been many moments when I have had what I
thought was a really good idea. But people I trust, who
have more spiritual wisdom than I do, raised questions.
They said, “Hmm, I’m not sure this is a good idea and here
You too have spiritual mentors in your life—if you don’t,
find some in your church. Seek their wisdom. Seek their
accountability. Seek their unbiased opinion.
A wise person will take such advice as God speaking to
them. That is God’s will.
4. God’s Will is Revealed in God’s Word.
How basic, but how true. The fact of the matter is this:
99 percet of what God wants to you to do in your life
is spelled out in His Word. And here’s a news flash for
you. God is not going to mysteriously lead you to do
something that contradicts His Word.
Ask yourself these questions. How much of God’s
revealed Word are you following now?
Are you faithfully seeking Him on a daily basis through Bible
study and prayer?
Are you active in ministry at a Bible-believing church?
Are you sharing your faith?
Are you doing your best to live apart from sin?
Are you faithful to your spouse?
Are you seeking satisfaction in Christ instead of the
These are just a few of many areas where the Bible
touches our lives, where God’s Word is revealed to us in
simple, concrete, direct language. And you and I can’t
Quite often, Christians try to blend their own sinful
lifestyles with the teachings of Scripture and then they
wonder why they can’t ever seem to discover “God’s
will for their lives.” But unconfessed sin keeps you from
closeness to God.
It’s not that God expects us to be perfect. But are you
honestly living for him, seeking him, and doing your best to
obey his commandments?
If so, guess what, pinch yourself, you’re in God’s will.