Discerning God's Will



God's Control of Circumstances

From my father's example (in Chapter 3 - Example 3), it is obvious that God took charge of the circumstances after my father had been illumined by the Holy Spirit and had given up his own choice. As God guides us, He also controls circumstances.

The Bible clearly tells us that God is in control of all matters big and small in the universe (including people, affairs, things, and circumstances). There are many examples in the Bible, such as Gideon's wool and the servant of Abraham searching for Isaac's wife (Judges 6:36-40; Genesis 24). The Bible also says, " Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father's will (Matt. 10:29; ref. Luke 12:6)" and that even our hairs are numbered by God - how precious we are in God's sight! Without His permission, not a single hair will turn white or perish ( Luke 21:18).

Jesus told Peter that, before the cock crowed twice, Peter would deny Jesus thrice. The cock in the priest's court did not crow until Peter had denied the Lord thrice - the cock was under God's control. Also, by the Sea of Galilee when Jesus was to pay tax, He commanded Peter to fish in the Sea of Galilee and to use the coin in the mouth of the first fish he caught as tax for them both (Matt. 17:24-27). In the expansive Sea of Galilee there were countless fish, but that particular fish was perhaps the only one with a coin in its mouth. In addition, in order for Jesus' words to be fulfilled, this fish had to be the first one to be caught. Moreover, Jesus did not tell Peter its exact location amid the expansive water surface. And what about Jonah: when he was thrown into the sea, he was caught and swallowed up by a big fish, like the dropping of a basketball into the net - the motion and timing had to be exactly right (Jonah 1:15-17).

God has the whole universe strictly under His control. God created the great, orderly universe. He also created the laws of nature that govern the vast universe, and He Himself is above these laws. That is why when God clearly discloses His will to followers who do His will, He makes the appropriate circumstantial arrangements.

Let me reiterate: the first condition for knowing God's will is related to a person's own spiritual condition. We must also remember that Godreveals His will in our spirit as He illumines us; He then convinces us with His circumstantial arrangements. Of course, this is not a fixed formula - our God who does all things according to His will is infinite and supreme.

Example 1 - Dr. John Song (1901-1944)

One of God's greatly used servants in the early 20 th Century, Dr. Song was a gifted evangelist in China who had led tens of thousands of people to Christ. In December 1934, he was forced to leave the Bethany Mission & Seminary in Shanghai. He pleaded for the Lord's guidance with regard to his future service. He wrote in his diary: "Reflecting on the past, I see the Lord's personal guidance as He, for the past three years, trained, equipped and shielded me, allowing the nest to be stirred only when my feathers were fully grown - so that I won't fall." (ref. Deut. 32:9-12).

On Dec.12, he prayed, "Lord, if You want me to serve as an independent evangelist, please give me two confirmations. First, open the doors for me to five provinces3 within a month. Second, give me the traveling expenses of 800 dollars." Later, when forced to leave Bethany ( Shanghai), he wrote this in his diary: "The doors to five provinces have now been opened - namely Jiangsu, Anhui, Shantung, Hobei, and Zhejiang. Many anonymous offerings have been received, including 30 dollars that the female students of the Changsha Bible School saved up from their meal-fees. The Lord has given me more than I have hoped and asked for. Now, assured of His support, I'll set out to evangelize and march on with boldness and faith - be the way smooth or treacherous."

Example 2 - A Minister's Journey

Here is an impressive testimony that I heard when I was young:

A preacher in China had to travel on foot from one town to another with miles of treacherous mountain trails in-between. It grew dark just half-way through the journey, and the minister became scared in the midst of the beast-inhabited forest. He prayed as he walked on. Suddenly, he noticed a tiny light in the thick of the forest. Drawing closer, he found out the light was that of a small inn and decided to stay there for the night. Apart from the couple who owned the inn, there was only a mute innkeeper. After lowering his baggage, the preacher took out some dried food and shared it with the innkeeper. By this time, the owners had excused themselves. They were actually operating a robbery snare, acting as informants for the robbers. They usually brought in the robbers to loot, after which they would kill the victim and bury him in the forest without leaving any trace of crime. The Lord moved the mute innkeeper to warn and save the kind minister by making hand-signals for him to leave, but the minister did not get the message. At that time, the water prepared for the preacher to wash his feet was beginning to boil. Though the air in the room was still, the steam out of the pot was moving in various directions other than straight up. It became noticeable that the steam formed the word "run." Noting God's warning of imminent danger, the minister gathered up his belongings and left the inn. Hiding behind the trees just a short distance away, he later heard the galloping of horses towards the inn. The robbers looked for him in vain, and he was unharmed.

Our God is a wonderful God. He has many ways to disclose His will to His godly children. To the magi of the east, God used a star to lead them to Jesus (Matt.2:1). Our God is infinite and guides those who fear Him with His skillful hands (Psalm 78:72).

Dear brothers and sisters, please remember this: As long as we have sincere, perfect love for the Lord and are truly willing to submit ourselves to Him to do His will, the almighty Heavenly Father always has a way to reveal His will to us (ref. Matt.2:2,9,10). Even if we may miscomprehend, the kind and loving Father will certainly redirect us to the path He desires for us.

The Lord Jesus Himself lived absolutely in the will of the Father and had never said or done anything on his own initiative (John 5:30; 8:28-29; 14:10; 15:5). He is indeed a perfect model for us to imitate (I Cor. 11:1; Phil..2:5-8).

3 Province: A province in China is an expansive administrative division, similar to a State in the United States of America.

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