Posted on Jun 16, 2022 by Mike LeDuke
Do you ever wish that God would simply appear to you?
Wouldn’t it make life easier if God would suddenly appear, tell you what He wanted you to do, and continue to appear throughout your life? If that happened, just think of how all of your life’s decisions would be simplified! You wouldn’t have to agonize over where to live, you wouldn’t have to worry about what you should do after you graduate high school, or you wouldn’t have to wonder how to confront a particular problem. God would simply tell you what to do, and then you would do it.
But, God doesn’t do that. Even Scripturally did He rarely involve Himself that way in the personal lives of His followers. Sometimes David could ask for guidance and get a clear answer (1 Samuel 23:1-12). But, even with those who could converse with God, God wasn’t always clear. Think about Abraham––God promised him that he would have a son, and while Abraham asked for more information about when and how that would happen, God wouldn’t give it to him (Genesis 15:1-6). That absence of instruction is what led Sarah to suggest that Abraham take Hagar as a wife and try to have children through her (Genesis 16). Even with the prophets, God only appeared to them occasionally. Zechariah only ever prophesied twice (Zechariah 1:1; 7:1). The rest of his life was lived as a typical Israelite––attempting to make the best Godly decisions and apply God’s principles.
While God works in the background and arranges circumstances in the lives of His followers (Romans 8:28), He doesn’t often given straightforward and detailed instructions on how to live and what decisions to make. Why is that? Certainly it would make life simpler if He did.
But simple isn’t necessarily what God wants. As noted in the last post, in order to find true joy, we need to find God’s goals. And, as we have just established, God doesn’t merely tell us His goal in every situation. So then how do we find God’s specific goal for a situation, thus making the right choice, and therefore finding joy?
The Bible is the answer. While we can’t specifically know God’s goal for every situation, we can read about His principles and the way that He works. We can recognize that ultimately, He wants to fill the earth with His glory (Psalm 72:19) and His way (Matthew 6:10).
That way and that glory are both terms used to describe His character — when Moses asked to see God’s way and His glory (Exodus 33:13, 18), God proclaimed His character to him (Exodus 34:6-7). In other words, God’s goal is for His character — compassion, grace, patience, love, faithfulness — to fill this world. And the way that we know how to live our those characteristics is by reading Scripture. It shows us story after story of characters attempting to apply these characteristics in their various situations. We have a book full of examples!
Perhaps, then, this is one reason why Scripture is associated with joy. When the exiles understood God’s words, they rejoiced (Nehemiah 8:12). Jeremiah declared that God’s words were “a joy, and the delight of [his] heart” (Jeremiah 15:16).
The Bible shows us examples of God’s goals in action and in reading it and understanding His way and His plan, we can find true and lasting joy.
— Jason Hensley, PhD