Red light/green light is a game my kids and I like to play.
And it’s a super-simple game too.
Whoever is “it” stands at one side while the other players stand at the opposite side. With their back turned to the other players, the person “it” yells “green light” and the players run, or they yell “red light” and the players stop. The first player to reach the person “it” wins.
This fun backyard game not only affords us endless entertainment, it’s also exactly how I used to seek God’s will for my life.
Bedside Conversations with “Jesus”
Recalling a conversation he had with “Jesus” by his bedside, Kenneth Hagin shared what “Jesus” told him, “The number one way, the primary way, that I lead all of my children is by the inward witness.” “Jesus” went on to exemplify this in Kenneth’s life by reminding him of a recent experience he had, saying, “You had a check in your spirit…You had something on the inside, a check, a red light, a stop signal.”
“Jesus” further detailed the traffic light inside of Kenneth, telling him, “You had a velvety-like feeling in your spirit. That’s the green light. That’s the go-ahead signal. That’s the witness of the Spirit too.”
This internal traffic light made sense to me at one time. Besides, if Kenneth got this message directly from the horse’s mouth—”Jesus”—during an early morning conversation with him over coffee by his bed, then it was good enough for me too.
Finding God’s will for my life revolved around me constantly examining my feelings and trying to equate them with either a red, green, or even yellow light. This way I knew if I should stop, go, or wait when making a particular decision.
Flooring the Gas and Pumping the Brakes
In all honesty, I became one hot mess when I followed this teaching.
My ever-changing feelings served as the GPS of my life. One moment I’m flooring the gas pedal and the other I’m pumping the brakes. I was more concerned with how I felt about a decision rather than how God wanted me to live for him. This subjective, mushy, inward focus proved to be problematic—especially after a sleepless night or a Mexican meal.
I would pray about something, get a particular feeling, and then make a decision. After making whatever decision it was, I was then convinced that the decision I made was God’s infallible—unchanging will—for my life.
Well, I had one small problem.
I’m a normal person whose feelings can and do change.
After making a decision when I felt a green light from God that subsequently turned into a red light, I grew confused, inactive, and changed my mind on countless occasions. I would take one step forward and then two steps back.
Needless to say, this back-and-forth left me in a vicious cycle of impulsive decisions and regrets.
Finding God’s Will for Your Life
Our feelings do not serve as the barometer of God’s will for our lives. We don’t have to take extensive pilgrimages, seek prophets, or wait upon a particular feeling in order to make a decision about anything.
Now, don’t get me wrong, decisions based upon our feelings are not necessarily wrong. It’s when we base God’s will for our lives completely on our feelings when things get messy
In order for us to understand God’s will for our life, then we have to understand how God talks about his will in the Bible. One helpful distinction theologians have made throughout the centuries is differentiating between God’s secret and revealed will.
In Deuteronomy 29:29, we read, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (emphasis mine).
This helpful distinction by Moses releases us from the self-imposed legalism of following our feelings rather than following Jesus and walking in the freedom only he can provide.
Let me explain.
1. God’s Secret Will
God’s secret will is just that, a secret.
God is sovereign over everyone and everything. He stands outside of time, human history, and is guiding every minute detail for his glory and our good (Ps. 33:11; Isa. 46: 8–10). Being the finite people we are, there are some things we’ll never know about God and his ways until they actually happen. Besides, there are some things he’s just not going to share with us (Prov. 25:2; Acts 1:6–7).
As Moses says, these secret things belong to God. For instance, we can’t pick up a Bible and discover where we will live, go to school, or who we will marry.
When it comes to making these types of decisions, there’s not really a right or wrong decision—unless the decision goes against God’s revealed will. Which leads us to the next point.
2. God’s Revealed Will
God’s revealed will for our life is written down in the Bible.
Through the pages of the Bible we discover who God is and what pleases and displeases him. The Bible—not our feelings—is the only standard God has provided to direct us in living for him.
We are to live our life by what God has revealed, not what is hidden.
God’s will for our lives is revealed in the Bible and it is to guide and direct us in the decisions we make. We don’t have to do a jig, pay a prophet, or wait for some sort of funny feeling. In the words of Kevin DeYoung, we need to Just Do Something.
For instance, God is sovereign over our life. He can do whatever he pleases (Psa. 115:3). We may have breath today, but we’re not guaranteed it tomorrow. This is why we can’t say with 100% confidence where we will be next year, let alone tomorrow (James 4:15).
Also, this influences how we pursue a spouse. If you desire to marry someone, that’s a good thing. What’s not a good thing is passively waiting by for God to do something about it when you’re sitting at home twiddling your thumbs and whistling Dixie. If you want to marry someone, pursue a godly spouse in a godly way.
What is more, unless your vocation violates what God has revealed, such as prostitution, gambling, or stealing, God doesn’t really care what type of work you do as long as you take care of yourself (Eph. 4:28), your family (1 Tim. 5:8), and others (2 Cor. 8–9).
Knowing God’s Will
Instead of playing red light/green light with God’s will for your life, I encourage you to simply trust God (Prov. 3:5–6), read the Bible (Rom. 12:1–2), and seek godly counsel (Prov. 11:14) when making decisions. There’s really not much more to knowing God’s will than that.
This advice isn’t new, sleek, or sexy, but it honors God.
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