Thanks to Brian for directing me to this article by Garry Friesen that appeared in Discipleship Journal a few years back. I didn't want it to get lost in the comments section. It's currently under construction but I look forward to reading what Brian has to say at his blog, Reasons Why.
David Wayne, the Jolly Blogger, has some thoughts about what is to account for the obsession with finding God's will. He chalks it up to evangelical narcissism and, in agreement with Bruce Waltke, one of the authors I recommended in my last entry, claims that the way many believers think about discerning God's will has more in common with pagan occultism than the Bible. He includes an excerpt from Waltke's book, Finding the Will of God: A Pagan Notion? as well as a link to Rusty Lopez's thoughts on the topic at New Covenant .
On Adrian Warnock's UK Blog as well as on his own, Cadmus inquired about the relationship between living God's will and the fruit of the Spirit as he studies Galatians 5:16-26. I particularly like the way he put this:
In our culture we are told to do something with our lives, that we have to be successful and that's why so many struggle with doing God's Will. So many want God to hold a career fair and tell them what they should do, when he tells us so often throughout the Bible: "Live this way so others can see Me and want to know Me personally and become disciples."So very true. One of the young men I spoke with in Wisconsin related how he was thinking about looking for a new job but thought he had to stay where he was until he got a "clear sign" from God. He was so relieved to learn that what's required of him is to make a wise, biblically-informed decision, trusting that the Lord will providentially order his steps.
More recently, Adrian Warnock posted his sermon notes on Proverbs 3: 5 - 6. Certainly, no discussion of God's will would be complete without reference to these familiar verses. They're frequently portrayed as a promise of specific personal guidance in critical decisions, especially because the King James Version renders the latter part of verse 6: "....and he shall direct your paths" instead of the more accurate translation of the verb which means "to make straight" or "to make smooth." Garry Friesen, in Decision Making and the Will of God quotes Old Testament scholar, Bruce Waltke recounting a fellow scholar's difficulty coming to terms with this:
All of us have had the shock of discovering that a favorite verse in the King James Version was inaccurate.... I recall the astonishment of one of the committee members assigned to translate the Book of Proverbs for the New International Version when he discovered that Proverbs 3:5-6 had nothing to say about guidance.... [W]hen confronted with the linguistic data he had to admit reluctantly that the verse more properly read 'and He will make your path smooth.'
Concerning the significance of the imagery of a "path" in verse 6, Friesen writes:
The noun "path" is frequently employed in the Psalms and Proverbs. But it does not have the idea of an individual will of God. Hebrew writers use it to describe the general course of fortunes of life (see Proverbs 4:18-19; 15:19). When the verb "make straight, make smooth" is connected withi "paths," the meaning of the statement is, "He shall make the course of your life successful." This meaning is clearly indicated in Proverbs 11:5:
The righteousness of the blameless will smooth his way,
But the wicked will fall by his own wickedness.
This verse contrasts the righteous man who experiences true success in life with the wicked man who brings trouble upon himself by his devious behavior. This is a common theme in Proverbs (4:18-19; 11:5; 15:19; 22:17-21).