I remember the man who taught me how to fish.
We were at a lake in North Carolina. When I got my first catch, I was embarrassed that it was so small and wanted to throw it back. But the man, a deacon in my first church, said, “Don’t. It helps if you have something to add to.”
Well, I’ve discovered there’s wisdom in that. In fact, it applies to many things—including obeying God. If you start with a small matter, it’s true. It gets easier.
When it comes to obedience, do you have “something to add to”?
If you’re like most Christians, you’ve struggled with God’s will. Maybe you’ve asked yourself: How can I know God’s will for me? Does He care about this little thing? Why is He telling me “no” in this situation?
There’s a lot of confusion about this issue. We want God’s will to be reasonable and desirable, and we also want it to be logical and clear.
Well, the fact is that the Lord’s ways are often beyond our ability to understand. We won’t always be able to comprehend what He’s doing in the world and in our lives, but I want to assure you of this: We can trust the One who holds us in His mighty hand, in small things as well as big ones.
Let’s look at an event in Peter’s life.
This situation began with a slight matter of obedience, but it led to a very important turning point for Peter’s entire future (Luke 5:1-11).
God’s will is sometimes inconvenient.
Peter was a fisherman by trade and had just finished a long, unsuccessful night of fishing. As he cleaned his nets on the shore, Jesus asked Peter to take Him out in his boat so He could continue teaching (vv. 1-3). Jesus’ request was not unreasonable. It was a small thing and may have seemed unimportant. But Peter did what Jesus asked.
We tend to think that God is only interested in big, important events in our lives, but in reality, His will is lived out one little act of obedience at a time.
The Holy Spirit’s promptings don’t always come when we’re well rested and eager to obey. He may ask you to help someone in need when it’s uncomfortable for you. Following Jesus requires self-denial in order to fulfill His desires.
There may be times when the Lord’s will seems unreasonable.
After Jesus finished teaching, He asked Peter to do something illogical to a professional fisherman: “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch” (v. 4). Fisherman in Galilee knew that fish were caught at night in shallow water. But Peter already had “something to add to,” and he obeyed.
Are you willing to do what God says even when it seems unreasonable?
Throughout my years of ministry, I’ve watched the Lord sovereignly direct my path in some of the most unexpected ways. It often seemed illogical to me, but every time I obeyed Him, He brought me exactly where I needed to be and equipped me to accomplish what He’d planned.
Trusting the Lord even when obedience seems foolish is essential if you want to live your life according to His will. Common sense is inadequate compared to the omniscience and wisdom of an all-powerful God.
If you step out in faith, your perspective of the Lord will increase like Peter’s did. Because he obeyed Jesus, he caught such a great quantity of fish that his nets began to tear.
God’s will is spiritually life-changing.
When Peter saw the miraculous catch of fish, he realized he was in the presence of deity and felt the guilt of his own sin, exclaiming, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” (v. 8).
Repentance is a prerequisite for being used by God. We can never walk in His will as long as we walk in pride, independence, and self righteousness.
Jesus didn’t give Peter all those fish so he could become a more successful fisherman, but so that he would see the greatness of the One who was calling him to become a fisher of men and leave it all to follow Him (v. 10). This moment was orchestrated by God to lead Peter into the role God had planned for him—to become the apostle who would lay a foundation for the church.
The Lord works the same way in your life.
You are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that you would walk in them (Eph. 2:10). His will for you was established long before you were born. Everything He does in your life will be consistent with that plan. Your job is to walk where He guides you.
As you add greater acts of obedience to your smaller ones, you’ll gain deeper love for your heavenly Father, who cares so much for you. And you’ll begin to look forward to the next step on the path He sets before you.
God’s will reaches far beyond your human plans and expectations. Following it will be one of the many great blessings of belonging to Him.
Charles F. Stanley
P.S. If you want to know God’s will, read His Word, ask Him to guide you, and seek godly counsel when you need it. In Touch Ministries is here to help. Just call us, and we’d be glad to pray for you. We look forward to supporting you on the Christian walk, today and through the years to come.