One of the most common experience of this is the desire to live life on our terms and the desire to follow Jesus. It would be nice if the two were the same, but they are not. The one desire is about maintaining control in our lives while the other desire is about surrendering that control to God.
The fact that we carry around these opposing desires doesn’t mean that we want to live some evil lifestyle. It does mean that we don’t trust God to do what is best.
John Eldredge in Walking with God writes about these two desires:
“I want two things that are mutually opposed—I want to live a nice little life, and I want to play an important role in God’s kingdom. And it’s in those times that I am trying to live a nice little life that I make decisions and choices that cause me in small and subtle ways to live outside of Jesus. The Shepherd is headed one direction, and I am headed another. Not to some flagrant sin—that’s too easy to recognize. Instead, I’m simply wandering off looking for the pasture I deem best.” (pp. 89-90)
I don’t want to speak for you, but I know this summarizes my life.
On the one hand I want the life I want to live: a nice life that is safe and comfortable. On the other hand I want to be part of what God is doing in this world: a life of faith that takes me out of my comfort zone.
My flesh always pulls me towards the life I want, which I believe is the life of my dreams.
What is frustrating, and I would bet that you have been there too, is that the life of my dreams never really becomes a reality. It always seems to remain just out of reach. And if by chance we have a few moments when we think we have achieved it, it doesn’t seem to be everything that we had hoped it would be. It feels unsatisfying to us.
As long as we live here on earth we will be pulled in these two directions. We are either going to use our time and energy to create the life we think will make us happy, or we will sacrifice our desires to devote our lives to following Jesus and discovering the life he created for us.
I want you to think about what the apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians:
So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. (Colossians 1:9-10; NLT)We need to God's will and to have spiritual wisdom if we are going to live a life that honors Jesus.
To receive this knowledge we need to pray. Notice that this is part of Paul's regular prayer for the Colossians. We al need to spend time in the Bible. The Bible is God's word to us: it contains the wisdom and truth that He wants us to know.
Remember, it isn’t enough just to know and understand God’s will.
The key is to be obedient to God’s will. The way God’s will makes a difference in our lives is when we adjust our lives to it.
If we aren’t willing to obey God, then knowing His will doesn’t make one bit of difference in our lives. This requires that we make a commitment to do God’s will, no matter what the cost will be or where His will takes us.
Our desires to have a nice little life and to live the life God created us to live are mutually opposed (though I should add that when the first is our goal we will never achieve it, but when the second is our goal we will have a life that is so much better than what we had dreamed), and if we are going to follow Jesus we will have to lay down our dreams and desires in order to pick up His desires for our lives.
The life we really want, true life, isn’t found in what we can create for ourselves. It is found in the life God created us to live.
Seek out God’s will for your life, and then live out His will. That is how we truly live life.