A friend asked me yesterday what I believed was the difference between the permissive and perfect will of God. This morning I thought of Habakkuk (chapter 2), and his need for an answer from God. Habakkuk waited for God’s answer. He stood firm, and believed He would hear. God didn't immediately give the answer Habakkuk desired, but what He told Habakkuk, speaks of the faithfulness of a God who is never late. “Though the answer may linger,” God said, “wait for it! It will certainly come, and will not delay.”
When I have a question I believe I need answered right away, how do I respond when I find I must wait for it? Habakkuk stood firm, and declared he would not move until He had heard from God. He did not stand in an attitude of his right to have an answer, but one of humility in the awareness of God’s faithfulness. Having brought his question to God, he believed He would hear. He stood, and he waited. He did not struggle for an answer. He waited, and knew God's promise that an answer would come in God's Time.
What is God's perfect will and His answer for my life? I believe I have an answer when I am completely submitted to Him. I hold nothing back. I wait in anticipation of His faithfulness. I wait for my answer. I may be frustrated like Habakkuk, but I know God is faithful, and I take my frustration to Him just as Habakkuk did. I let God have it, and I take no action until I hear from God. In humble honestly, I boldly come before Him and seek my answer. When I am broken and spilled out in my heart for Him, I know His will, because I yearn with all my heart to be in His will. When I am renewed in the spirit of my mind, and I am transformed and looking for His perfect and pleasing will, I discover it without struggling. If I yearn for His desires to be my desires, I am absolutely willing to surrender my personal desires for His. I am willing to wait as long as necessary for His will or His promise to come into being. I am willing to believe in that promise even if that promise doesn't come into my sight (Hebrews 11:6). Don't I sometimes get so focused on what God's will is for my life, I forget that this very moment when I am seeking His will, the spiritual growth I'm discovering, is His will? I find His will, and I am in His will when I trust Him perfectly. He knows that He is the focus of all my desire, and not His will. I just want Him completely transforming my life.
I also believe that God has a permissive will for my life. You might not agree with all of this, but I ask you to hear me out, and then draw you own conclusion. I believe that when I am lost in a struggle to discover His will, and I believe with all my heart that I have absolutely surrendered, there may be a part of my will that has not absolutely surrendered to His will. It may be a lack of trust in His faithfulness. It may be questioning Him as to why I haven't seen His hand move when I believe with all my heart that He has told me His will, and I haven't seen it. I may “feel” time closing in... whether it is nor not. Proverbs 16:3 says, "Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” This says to me, that if I commit to the Lord my decision to act, and He knows I want to serve Him from a humble heart, He will allow my plans to be successful. This I believe is His permissive will. He knows I love Him and I want to be His always. Because of my love for Him, (and if that direction does not compromise Him), He may allow me to move in a direction He might not have initially called. I believe He allows His permissive will when He knows that I love Him completely, and perfect trust is something He knows that I desire with all my heart, and for whatever reason, I have not just found it. Perhaps I stumble into it because my greatest desire is to serve Him, and He knows that I long to serve Him with all my being. He knows my humble impatience, but He also recognizes my love. He knows that, even though I may struggle, He is still the focus of my desire.
There is a great danger, when in struggling to know God's will, that I might actually move out of God's will. When I take matters into my own hand–when my heart is so frustrated that my impatience has become a tool in Satan's hands–when my personal desire to be in His will has become greater than His actual will for my life, I will totally fail Him. Because of my need to "feel" His approval and have His answer, I completely miss His perfect will. I even miss His permissive will. My impatient heart has become so hardened by what “I” feel I need, that I have lost completely a heart for what “God needs”. I move forward and make my plans from the desire of what I believe I need. I have become so obsessed with the desire to be in His will, that I miss it altogether. I have forgotten my life is about Him, and not just about His will. The plans that I make may be mine alone, because they have not come from a surrendered heart. They have come from my need to "feel" and just "know", and there is the downfall. I find myself totally out of His will and lost in a feeling and need for approval that knows no bounds.
Habakkuk felt He has been pushed to His limit. His heart broke for a world disintegrating around him. He longed to understand why evil existed, and always appeared to win. Habakkuk boldly brought his complaint to God, and then waited for God’s answer. He waited with a heart that knew God would answer. He humbly refused to give up, but he didn't struggle. God’s answer and the promise it offers is timeless. “Though the answer may linger,” God said, “wait for it! It will certainly come, and will not delay.”