Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest. (Ecclesiastes 11:4 NLT)
Solomon’s words about the uncertainties of life were written about 2,800 years ago. Uncertainties were as true in ancient times as they are today. How do we make decisions in the midst of uncertainties?
The Bible is clear that we should be prudent when planning and making decisions; we want to be good managers of what God has entrusted to us. Sure, there are times when we should be slow in our response rather than quick in our reaction. But Solomon warns that sometimes such slowness can simply be unresponsiveness, leading to ineffectiveness.
How do we know when we should move and act? Or as Solomon would say, how do we know when to plant and gather in the current circumstances? Perhaps the following guide will help us in our decision making.
God has a predetermined will for us that should be acted upon. God clearly states in the Bible this to be true. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10 ESV) This is one of the most encouraging verses in the Bible. God’s will and his eternal plan purposefully includes us; it is a plan that was prepared long ago.
God has uniquely created each of us for specific kingdom work. God’s perfect skill is evident in his workmanship in us. That is an amazing confidence building truth! He has provided the means in Christ Jesus for us to be able to join him in his redemptive plan—making us a new creation in Christ for the good works planned long ago that include us. All of this means that we can be certain to know the will of God and do his will to a heavenly standard.
God makes his will and way specifically known to us. He primarily makes his will and plan known to us through his Spirit and from the pages of the Bible. The Lord said clearly, “The Spirit will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13). Reading the Bible daily and meditating on it regularly illuminates God’s directions for us. The Psalmist stated it this way, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105 (ESV).
We are to purposefully read the Bible, believing that God is speaking to us through it. I read the Bible with a pencil in my hand, marking and writing down what I hear God say to me from the pages. It is remarkable how daily Bible reading gives instruction for my daily living.
Reading and praying go hand in hand. In the moments of quiet or earnest praying or in moments of quiet contemplation, the Spirit of God often speaks to my inner man, my spirit.
We can know God’s will and his way when we are actively reading and praying while intentionally submitting ourselves to his lordship.
God rarely gives us the big picture. Part of our difficulty with following God’s will and way is that he rarely, if ever, gives us the whole plan at one time. Instead, God gives us one step at a time, calling and enabling us to be faithful with each step. As we step in faith and obedience, God reveals more of his design. He makes a great promise to us in Psalm 32:8, I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. (ESV) We shouldn’t hold off starting or continuing the journey just because we don’t know God’s destination purpose.
God often includes trials and suffering as we follow his way and plan for us. Difficulties do not necessarily mean that we are off course from the path of God. Experiencing difficulty could mean we are right where God wants us to be. Paul encourages us to press into this truth. You’ll find reassurance by the New Living Translation of Romans 5. 3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 and endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 and this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. (Romans 5:3-5)
Perhaps it is time for you to plant or harvest according to the will and way of God. Your planting may be a new MeadowBrook ministry, a new mission, a new discipling relationship, or a continuation of what is already planted. I encourage you to not wait until the conditions are perfect; perfect on this side of heaven is not probable. I encourage you to begin your harvest rather than hoping that the conditions become ideal. This is the season—the season of grace and light—to be planting and harvesting according to the will and plan of God.