“What if the path you chose becomes a road; what if the ground you take becomes a home? The wind is high, but the pressure is off. I’ll send the rain wherever we end up.” That chorus pierced my heart as I laid on the thin mattress high up on my bunk in the heat of India. “Wherever we end up, Darling, I’ll be there. You cannot choose wrong. I am with you wherever you go.” His gentle whisper invaded my terrified heart; “But what if I choose wrong and miss the plans you have for me? What if I miss Your will Papa? Please! Lead me. Lead me.”
“You can never choose wrong. I have led you here, and now I am telling you to seek my heart. In my heart you will know what you are to do. You know Me; I won’t let you fall. Lock eyes with Me Beloved. Lock eyes and dance with me on the water.”
I pictured Peter, petrified, yet full of anticipation. My heart understood the anxiousness that first step out of the boat must have released, the feeling of fear mixed with pure wonder and joy his heart must have been screaming in the moment he began to walk towards Jesus across the sea. Little did I know, a year later my heart would also know the feeling of betrayal and terror Peter felt as he let his eyes slip from his Savior, the feeling that gripped him as he sank into the deep, vast sea. I would finally understand the hand reaching out in desperation for Jesus, His rescuing touch, and the words of my Father, “why did you fear? Don’t you know who I am? I have you.”
The bridge of The Voyage by Bethel Church musician Amanda Cook playing on my phone shocked me back into reality. “I am the wind in your sails. I am the wind in your sails.”
“Oh Jesus. Can I really take her in? Can I really do this; adopt a 16 year old with special needs when I am just 20 years old myself? Can we actually do this?”
My eyes froze on the page as I read what would become my deciding factor. “But, if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8). I read the lines leading up to this verse, and even though I knew it was in regards to a family that has a widow among them, my heart couldn’t help but feel this was a direct answer to what the heart of the Father is. “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for the orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27).
“You know my heart. Whatever you choose, I will love you. Wherever you go, I will be there. Whatever you decide, I will honor.”
In that moment, my heart whispered a simple, “yes.” I love this about our Papa. We can shout yes to what He is calling us towards, or we can whisper it, and He honors it. A mustard seed still produces a tree, so whether you feel you have faith to move mountains or not, a simple, “yes Lord. I will follow Your leading,” is enough to break through any circumstance, move any mountain, and bring peace to any situation.
So, in the smoggy morning of that warm day in India, my heart whispered yes, and it changed my entire life.
One question I get asked quite frequently is, “how do I know the will of God? What if I choose the wrong thing?” I understand that feeling because I have been there, but I want to address the fact that at it’s core it is a totally invalid question and leads us to misunderstand the heart of God. Above all, if you are seeking God with your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, and following Him, seeking first the Kingdom, He will add all else. His heart is never to leave His children in the dark, afraid and insecure about what they are to do. You cannot miss the will of God on your life if you are truly seeking Him first and foremost.
There are two levels of God’s will for those who have heard the good news that Jesus came, as God’s beloved son, who is God, and died in our place, that we may taste eternal life; that we may know life with God as abundant. First and foremost, He chose all people to be loved by Him, pursed by His great love for them, and His heart is that all come to know Him. “For God so loved the world that He sent His only Son, Jesus, to die in our place, that we may have eternal life” (John 3:16). “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:3-10). His love is for all people. Some choose to accept and receive it, and others do not. One question that is asked often is, “but, what about the guy on the island who lives alone and never had anyone tell him about Jesus? How can he be chosen if he never has a chance to hear?” He still has a chance to hear even if it is not by being told about Jesus. Creation is screaming God all the time. “But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more” (Luke 12:48). As in, if you are given an opportunity to hear about Jesus, it is expected you can make a decision based on the abundance of knowledge you have. If someone has never been told, creation still speaks creator. Nature still speaks God. Papa is still pursuing those people in His own way; through dreams, visions, etc. He speaks to the hearts of man. Do not limit a limitless God by saying that this man on the island will never have a chance to hear about the love God has for Him. God died for him so trust me, He will make known that love. Yet, this is why I am all for overseas mission work. “ How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10: 14-16). There is a beauty of speaking the love of Jesus to those who have not heard.
To recap: the first level of the will of God is that we are all called to know Him. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). His will is that we seek Him and His heart in all we do, yet true love gives the recipient a choice. If I forced my husband to love me back and never gave him a choice, is that really love? So is it with our Father. God loves us all so much that from day one He gave a choice. He set the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden to give Adam and Eve a choice, follow Him or don’t. Love Him or don’t. Choose Him or don’t. So is it today. His will is that we all choose Him, but He gives us a choice because He is so radically in love with us.
The next level of His will is individualized. I have found for me this lines up so well with desires of my heart. I followed the heart of God in the adoption of Vanessa despite the fact that I wanted to work with Youth With A Mission full time. I wanted to be a missionary, focusing on discipleship and mentoring, worship leading, and leading international mission trips. As I sought forth the heart of the Father and sought first the Kingdom of Heaven, He was faithful in adding ALL else. I met the man of my dreams, said yes to him, and am blessed to spend everyday running this race alongside his beautiful leadership over our family. Two years after my heart whispered yes on that warm morning in India, I am now seeing the desires of my heart come to fruition. Vanessa’s Village is mentoring multiple individuals weekly or bi-weekly, we are leading international mission trips, and in a little over a week we kick off the start of Alabaster Prayer House, evenings dedicated to worshiping our Father and seeking Him above all else. (https://vanessasvillage.com/alabaster-prayer-house/) The will of God on my life individually is not something I can miss as long as I am seeking Him. I left an opportunity that was perfectly lined up to what I felt called to in life for something unknown, but echoing His heart and my desires, and in that, He has brought back the areas my heart thrives in. He is so good.
Pray about all decisions, but if you are seeking a bold, direct answer from Him more than you are seeking Him in general, you will not be left with abundant peace. If you feel like you are worried about missing the will of God on your life, stop, breathe, and sit at His feet, worshiping Him for who He is, and getting to know Him. As we encounter the heart of the Father, the steps in front of us become clear.
Just as Peter trusted Jesus with that first step out of the boat, trust His leadership on your life. Before our wedding, Sean and I took some dance lessons to prepare for our first dance. I found incredible beauty in learning to follow his lead, locking eyes with him, anticipating the next spin or twirl, trusting that on the dips he would not let me fall. Thus is it with our Lord. Learn to dance with your Father upon the waters of life. Pay those waves no mind. Spin and sway to whatever comes your way, and you will know peace abundant.