Thursday, August 29, 2013

God Is Not A Genie Or A Magic 8 Ball

God is not a genie or a Magic 8 Ball. 

He does not grant all of your wishes and desires, and he does not always give you an answer when you want it.

But of course you knew that.... we can't control God.

So why do we still find ourselves viewing Him this way?
Why do we find ourselves expecting such things from Him?

More times than not, there's an underlying reason we find ourselves doing this often: we don't KNOW Him, don't have a personal relationship with Him, and we don't understand who He really is. Without these things, it is difficult to know the difference between God's will and our will.

But even if you do have a relationship with God, knowing God's will for our lives is still hard to understand. We will never be able to fully know God, but if we love Him, we will have the strong desire to know Him more and get closer to Him each day.

Without realizing it, even those who have a relationship with God and love Him may still find themselves trying to discover His will for their lives by viewing Him as a genie, a Magic 8 Ball, or by "testing" Him:

"God, if you want me to do this, show me a sign."
"God, if you want me to be with him, have this happen."
"God, if you want me to take that job, please let it be $5,000 more than I make now."

Then, we want Him to answer immediately:

"God, if this is your will, please let me know within the next two weeks."

Or we assume every opportunity or open door is what God wants for us:

"God wouldn't have opened this door to me if he didn't want me there."
"It's a sign from God that this is what I need to do."
"I prayed for a door to be opened, and since this one was opened, I must take it."
"I prayed for a sign, and I think this is the sign."

All of these are wrong (yet common) mistakes that Christians make when trying to discover God's will for their lives. We also misinterpret the popular verse Romans 8:28, "All things work together for the good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose."

We misinterpret this verse in two ways:

  1. We ignore the word "love" in this passage. Many believe in God, but do not love him. But you can't really love anyone (especially God) if you don't KNOW them or have a personal relationship with them. So the passage could be read, "All things work together for the good for those who know God personally and love him for who He is, not for what He can do for you." 
  2. We also wrongly associate the word "good" with comfort and happiness. God does not call us to be successful; He calls us to be faithful. God does not call us to be comfortable; He calls us to trust and serve Him in all circumstances. God does not call us to be happy; He calls us to be joyful (there's a difference).
    • Joy and happiness are different. They might be grouped in the same category, but they are not the same thing. God calls us to be joyful in all circumstances --that means good and bad circumstances. 
    • We have JOY because of the love of Jesus Christ, the hope of our everlasting future in Heaven when Jesus returns, the grace that washes away every sin we've ever committed, the trust and knowledge we have that God is in control of everything and has a purpose for everything, and the peace we experience when we are in God's presence. 
    • Be joyful in all circumstances and always keep your heart and mind on God. 

We should also remember to never test God, for it says in Luke 4:12, Deuteronomy 6:16, and Matthew 4:7 "Do not test the Lord your God." Testing God is asking for a "sign" or saying to Him, "if this, then that."

"God, if you will do this, then I will do that."

A big problem with testing God and expecting an immediate answer is that we want him to answer according to our desires and wants. We don't really want to hear an answer that goes against what we want. It's like we're trying to control God by saying, "Tell me Your will! But let it be what I want." It also shows that we do not trust Him to provide for us or lead us the way. 

But before we spend so much time trying to figure out what God's will is for our lives, we must think deeper into what we're asking of God...

We say we want to know God's will for our lives and "will do anything" to know what it is ---but would we really do anything?

What if God wanted you to quit your job and move your family to China to be missionaries?
What if He wanted you to leave your dream of obtaining an Engineering degree and go to seminary school to be a youth pastor? 
What if He wanted you to quit your 6-figure corporate job and work for a non-profit organization that helped the homeless? 
What if He wanted you to use up all of your vacation time and instead of going to the Bahamas, use those 2-3 weeks to go on a mission trip to Chile? 
What if He wanted you to sell your two-story house, move into a small home, and use that money to help those in need? 
What if He wanted you to quit going to the bars on the weekend to drink and socialize, and instead go there to share the gospel?
What if He wanted you to quit your full-time dream job and be a stay-at-home mom?
What if He wanted you to discontinue long-time friendships with people who pull you away from God?

Would you still do it if you knew it was God's will for your life?

If God asked us to give up something big in our lives or get out of our "comfort zone," many of us would probably hesitate to follow God's will. Following God's will isn't as easy as it seems. We see this throughout the Bible. God promised the Israelites to lead them to the Promise Land if they "Loved the Lord your God and followed His commandments." Yet even knowing this, they still disobeyed God, became faithless, became impatient in God's timing, and didn't like to get out of their "comfort zones," ---much like you and I. They complained and grumbled the whole way out of Egypt.
  • We cannot love God unless we KNOW Him and have a personal relationship with Him.
  • We cannot have a personal relationship with Him unless we are in consistent prayer and meditation on His Word daily.
  • We cannot know the difference between God's will and our will for our lives unless we have all of the above.
  • And we will not want to carry out God's will for our lives if we do not truly love and submit to Him.

In A Nutshell:
  • God is not a Genie -- He does not grant all of our wishes and desires. He knows what is best for us, knows us better than we know ourselves, and can see far into the future. HIS kingdom come, HIS will be done, not yours.
  • God is not a Magic 8 Ball -- He does not always give you a clear or immediate answer when you want it. Trust in God's timing instead of trying to force an answer (right or wrong) according to your schedule. Wait on the Lord. His timing is perfect.
  • You can write out all of your life plans on paper, but God has the eraser. He is the one in control. Learn to trust in Him and His will, and focus on living your life to glorify God. Stop wasting time trying to control the steering wheel to your life, because ultimately God's will WILL prevail. 

Love God for who He is, 
not what He can do for you.