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Are We Deceived about How to Find God's Will?

This is a comment I received from a husband on a post I did about Finding God’s Will.  I think he is onto something really important.  And he graciously allowed me to share his comments with you.

Reading your post turned a lightbulb on for me. I think I now actually have a much better understanding of a key element of my wife’s long-term disrespect for me. Here’s what I think I’ve realized:

Knowing the will of God and/or how to know the will of God was actually a big reason for my wife’s pervasive disrespect in my marriage.

We had both been raised to believe that in every decision, and especially in every “big” decision (college, career, spouse, church, house, etc.), there was one and only one choice that was God’s will. All other choices would put you permanently in “Plan B” (and the next time you missed the will of God, you’d be in Plan C, and so forth).

It wasn’t until I was in graduate school that I figured out, thanks to Dr. Garry Friesen’s book “Decision Making and the Will of God,” that this “specific will” view of decision making was not biblical. Instead, as you’ve described above,

God’s concern is that we seek to glorify Him and, with that motive, that we make the wisest decision we can, taking into account whatever the Bible says about the subject, all the facts we can learn, wise counsel, etc. Then — the best news — He will take care of us. We’re free to fail, in the sense of making a bad (i.e., unwise) decision, because God in His sovereignty and love will “work together for good” even those things.

And we’re free to change course when things don’t work out as expected (for example, bailing out of a start-up business that doesn’t catch on or even a career choice that isn’t working) without berating ourselves for “missing God’s will” in the matter. All of this assumes that the range of choices we’re considering are all within the moral will of God set out clearly in the Bible.

Unfortunately, my wife never understood this alternative (and more biblical) approach to decision-making. As a result, for the remaining 28 years of our marriage, she had to worry that because I was using the “wrong” approach to decision-making I was likely missing God’s will for myself and for her (and the kids) on a regular basis.

Under this reasoning, virtually every major decision — and certainly every decision where we didn’t agree — became a significant spiritual event in which I was leading the family astray. And, by definition, if I was missing God’s will in the matter, we were going to suffer the adverse consequences (Plan B, Plan C, etc.) and there was nothing God could do about it. His sovereignty and His love for us were handcuffed by my failure to discern His specific will. AND, because every decision was fraught with spiritual significance, she had a quasi-biblical basis for resisting my leadership. After all, even the strongest advocates of submission and respect acknowledge that the wife doesn’t have to allow herself to be led into sin.

I wonder if any of your readers are facing a similar thought process that has wives deceived into disrespecting their husbands while believing that they are actually abiding by their duty not to submit to sin?

FROM PEACEFULWIFE (my response)

I LOVE your lightbulb moment.

YES.

Many wives subscribe to the ideas that you are talking about. I used to think like that, too. I thought that if it was God’s will, for instance, for me to be a missionary to Africa/a stay-at-home-mom/a homeschooler or whatever – that if I submitted to my husband, and my husband wasn’t tuned in to God – I would completely miss God’s will for me and it would be all my husband’s fault. How selfish of me, I wasn’t even thinking in terms of God’s calling on my husband! Just me. Sadly.

So I was terrified to submit to my sinful husband at first because I thought God was too small to direct my husband.  And I thought my husband’s faith was too weak for him to really follow God.  I thought I was responsible for causing God’s will to happen and for knowing what God’s will was.  I thought I could discern God’s will much better than my husband could.  Never mind that God didn’t give me the position of spiritual authority and responsibility in the marriage.  I knew I was better for the job and I was totally justified in taking over because my husband OBVIOUSLY wouldn’t/couldn’t lead.

I didn’t think my husband could hear God.  And you know something?  He was having a hard time hearing God’s voice.  The reason?  ME.  My voice was SO loud and obnoxious – my voice drowned out God’s voice for my husband.  I caused us to miss God’s will.  Not my husband. (And yet – God has used even MY sin and mistakes and rebellion for His glory now!  HOW AWESOME HE IS!)

That was my biggest struggle at the beginning of this journey – is God really big enough to lead me through my sinful husband?

I started out knowing that my answer SHOULD be “yes.”  The God I knew should be big enough.  But I didn’t feel like He was big enough.  I couldn’t see how big He was and how small I was. The more I understood about God and how HUGE He is and the more I understood about how wretched and spiritually poverty stricken and sick I was – the more I realized how ludicrous my fears were.

The scary thing is NOT for me to trust God to lead me through my husband. The scary thing is for me to trust MYSELF to take charge and try to be in control of God and my husband.

I grossly misplaced my fear. I trusted myself and doubted God. That was so backwards.  I am nothing and I know nothing beside the God of the universe.  My pride was astronomical.
Yes, I thought if I trusted my husband, he wouldn’t lead and we would sit in spiritual stagnation for the rest of our lives.  I was constantly trying to run ahead of my husband and trying to drag him towards God.  My husband wouldn’t let me do it.  I’m SO THANKFUL NOW!  I hated to wait.  I was extremely impatient.  I got ideas in my head and ran with them at 100 mph, assuming my ideas were of God.  They weren’t.

I didn’t understand that God was big enough to lead me through my husband. Turns out He IS PLENTY BIG ENOUGH. And, it turns out, that when I stopped all my disrespect and was quiet about things of God (like I Peter 3:1-2 commanded me to do if I really thought my husband was being disobedient to the Word) – my husband did begin to hear God’s voice and to lead.  He hadn’t had a lot of experience, due to my taking over for 15 years.  But he grew stronger and stronger in his faith and as a leader when I stepped out of the way and supported him.  Now I know that my Lord is SO sovereign that He will change my husband’s heart and mind to conform to His will whether my husband is close to Him or not.  Now I also know that God’s sovereignty is big enough to break my pride and humble me and open my blind eyes.  I PRAISE AND THANK HIM FOR THAT EVERY DAY!

Now I know that when I trust God to lead me through my husband and I am obeying HIm, walking in faith and full of His Spirit, He will cause miracles to happen and He will take me to a much better place than I could ever have taken myself. Now I also know that if I fight my husband’s decisions, I am likely fighting God. So I don’t fight anymore. I share what I want and desire with my husband and God, and then I trust them to lead me. Even if it looks “wrong” to me. Even if I don’t like the direction. That is ok.

I know that God has infinitely more wisdom than I do now.  So I trust Him. And I know that I CAN’T LOSE.

  • If my husband sins – my God is big enough to use that for His glory.
  • If my husband makes “mistakes” – my God is big enough to use that for His glory, too.  And God will use it to discipline us, train us and prepare us for things we can’t begin to imagine.  Even bankruptcy.  Even financial struggles.  Even big mistakes with family relationships or drama.  There is NOTHING beyond the reach of God!!!  Nothing is too difficult for Him.  Nothing paralyzes Him.  Nothing will stump Him and make Him scratch His head and decide that no good can come from that situation.
  • If my husband follows God, God is glorified and we are filled with joy.

I have no fear anymore because God is working all things for my good and for His glory – and I know that I don’t know how to get there, only He does.

I also know that God can take the things that caused me the deepest pain and my own years of sin and rebellion and turn them inot something that brings glory to Him and draws others to Christ.

The keys that I was missing were God’s sovereignty, power and wisdom and my weakness, foolishness and smallness .

Something else stood out to me that you mentioned.  You talked about your wife not wanting to follow you into sin.  Wives – a husband leading us in the direction he believes is God’s will towards a certain job, a certain house, a certain church, specific decisions IS NOT SIN.  If our husbands think differently from us or have a different idea of what God’s will is – THAT IS NOT SIN!  We are to give them our perspective, share our feelings, and cooperate with their decisions – trusting God’s sovereignty.

Your husband leading you into sin is something like:

  • He wants you to cheat on the taxes.
  • He wants you to steal.
  • He wants you to ignore his pornography addiction or worse, he wants you to participate with him or have a threesome or go to a strip club.
  • He wants you to gossip.
  • He wants you to lie.
  • He wants you to commit idolatry with him.
  • He wants you to do something illegal.
  • He wants you to kill someone or have an abortion.
  • He wants you to not forgive someone.
  • He wants you to not pray or study your Bible.
  • He wants you to go against God’s Word in a significant way (not just some minor little interpretational difference).

THEN – we need to respectfully but firmly resist our husbands.

But most of the time – they are NOT asking us to sin!  Most of the time, they are TRYING to lead us, but we won’t follow.  If your husband asks you to do one of the following, tell him your feelings and then please cooperate with him joyfully with your trust in God:

  • tithe or not tithe according to his definition (not tithing is not a sin – not from what I can tell in scripture.  But trying to force a man to give under compulsion is wrong according to the Bible.  He has to be free to make this decision – with your input – but then he makes the call.
  • take another job
  • go to a church of his preference (unless it is a cult)
  • not go to church on Wednesday nights because he wants the young children in bed on time (that is not sin!  Please respect his priorities.  Tell him what you want and then allow him to make the final call if you disagree)
  • move to another town
  • start a new business
  • have you home with the family more
  • start stricter discipline with the children
  • follow a tighter budget

The vast majority of decisions will fall into this category – he will have to determine what he believes God’s will is on things that have no clear direction in the Bible.  So he needs the freedom to be able to decide according what he believes God is calling him to do.

We label so many things our husbands do as SIN – and often, we are WRONG.  We easily make ourselves judges of our husbands.  We are in serious sin when we do this.  Not only is our judging them sinful – but then we rebel against our husband’s authority or try to usurp our husbands’ authority and THAT is also sin on our own heads.  It’s time for believing wives to repent and become the godly wives God desires us to be who will bring healing to our marriages and great glory to Christ and His gospel!

Thank you to this precious husband for sharing. I completely agree that the mindset you are describing contributes to great disrespect among wives for their husbands. I appreciate your wisdom and insights very much!

14 thoughts on “Are We Deceived about How to Find God's Will?

  1. This makes me think about when God learned me that respect towards my husband is the only thing that works.

    For half a year me and my husband had a great phase when we were praying a lot together, were united in our goals and he was also fasting for 21 days. After that I felt like things were getting a little less good and I was afraid that we should lose out on this intimacy both with each other and God. I think the best way to describe it is that I more and more turned into becoming my husbands coach. I was trying (I thought very respectfully) encourage my husband to pray and on on, how he should think, do, act… everything. The intimacy surely diminished and we argued more and more.

    Then came a weekend when we had a babysitter, we went out of town to go to a christian meeting, sleep at a hotel and go to a wedding the next day. Church was awesome, and afterwards I thought – now we’re going to live really close to God and each other again. The next morning I wanted to spend a lot of time praying with my husband but he wasn’t as motivated as me – I became anxious and started to be a coach again. I felt almost like it was now or never – now we have to be close to God or we will loose the chance. That morning we argued more and more. Everything was terrible as we sat in the car on our way to eat lunch before the wedding. Then I suggested – let’s pray each of us on our own. We did, I hoped God would say something good to my husband, but as I was listening for myself God said to me – Can’t you see this is not working? You’re only making him miserable. The only thing that works is my Word.

    In my heart I understood what God was trying to say. The only thing that gives me what I want is giving my husband what God said I should give him – my respect, honor and admiration.

    Before we had lunch I told my husband what God told me, I repented and told him I would change.

    And so I did. I quit being that coach, realizing that was God’s job. I repented from trying to be God to my husband. Maybe you could say I went from being coach to cheerleader. I tried my best every day to only talk encouraging words and let my husband think, act and choose on his own.

    Now I know that in times when I’m successful at being that good wife the Bible talks about my husband is happier and more confident about his abilities to take care of us as a family and make wise decisions. He has actually said – since you’ve honored me more I feel more led by God! He also shows me much more love!

    I’ve also noticed that as I’ve stepped down from being a coach to instead be my husband’s follower I’ve become much more happy and relaxed. Overall I feel safe. There’s just a whole lot of stress going away. I understand that that’s how it feels when you do what you’re supposed to do. Trying to act God is not my job – not strange that makes me tired and anxious.

    So, God’s way is the only way, at least the only way that will work! =)

    Since I repented that day I’ve repented many more times. It’s so ironic how until then it was always my husband who repented, never me, and I thought that was right. He was the one doing wrong, not me. I’m so happy my eyes were opened to my own sin.

  2. This is so helpful, Peacefulwife! I had to read this twice to fully absorb all of the little nuggets of truth that are within this post. It is so nice when the husbands share their feelings and help us to understand things from a husbands perspective.

  3. I’m SO thankful this is a lesson I learned early in my life before getting married! I dated a young man for almost 2 years and we both believed (at least he said he did, I don’t know how convinced he really was) that it was God’s will for us to be married. Then he suddenly broke up with no option of getting back together. As a young 19 year old girl, I began to wonder if I would ever be able to get married because what if he was “the one” and he married someone else? Had he ruined my life forever? Would his choice leave me alone and unhappy for the rest of my life? Would I be forced to suffer for his lack of wisdom?

    A wise friend explained to me that God is not crippled by our mistakes. He doesn’t get frustrated and give up hope of fixing it like we do. The important thing is to keep following Him and trust Him to lead me, whether it meant a life of singleness or a new man. Ten long, hard years later, I married and am happier than I ever thought possible! If that first guy really was God’s “Plan A”, then He blessed me for trusting Him, exceeding abundantly above all that I could ask or think!

    We’ve only been married a year and a half so there hasn’t been much experience yet. But I always try to keep that in mind. Our perception of God and His abilities really does make all the difference in the world. Thank you for sharing this!

  4. So much goodness in this post. Understanding God’s Will better is such a key step to letting go of being in control in marriage. I know that God is in control of the decisions my husband makes, and even if his choices aren’t what I think is best, God will use it and teach me to be more like him. I need to do my part – helping my husband respectfully but stepping back afterwards and letting him make the choice as our leader.

    Peaceful Wife, you are such an encouragement to this newlywed. 🙂 Thank you!

  5. “I wonder if any of your readers are facing a similar thought process that has wives deceived into disrespecting their husbands while believing that they are actually abiding by their duty not to submit to sin?”

    I’ve been that wife, believing that obedience to God is a matter of walking a “tightrope” with every action and decision–completely missing that He is merciful and forgiving as well as just and holy. And the fear of suffering God’s wrath as a consequence of not being diligent enough in seeking His will was beginning to cripple my ability to rationally consider anything.

    To make things worse, I honestly had no clue that my attempts to run interference on my “sinful” husband’s behalf were actually disrespectful. And I could not understand why he seemed so frustrated that I was concerned about his right standing with the Lord.

    Thankfully, the Lord did eventually open my eyes to the need for me to be faithfully taking my own place rather than worrying so much about whether my husband is fulfilling his duty.

    1. Heather,

      I’m so glad you shared your story. I love your description of the tightrope and your trying to “run interference” – that is such an accurate portrayal of what many wives try to do.

      I’m so thankful God did open your eyes! What a relief and blessing!

  6. I LOVED this post.

    I’m going to be honest, but there have been many posts I have wanted to set fire to because they were just too hard for me to reconcile in my heart due to pride and fear. In fact, there were times I just plain boycotted your blog…because I would get so mad. But then, after a couple of days, I would find myself lurking here again “just to peruse” the most recent posts.

    This post nailed it on the head more than any of your posts I have read. I was afraid and convinced that God’s will could not be accomplished if I was following a husband that was not following God the way I THOUGHT he should. You are right. It is self-centered to think along these lines.

    Thank you for this post. It put words to feelings, lies and beliefs I had but had not tagged yet. This post really calmed me down quite a bit and finally made me feel that maybe God really can help me do this “Godly wife” thing.

    1. Thea,

      I’m so glad you wrote this comment! 🙂 I know that the things I write are HARD. Well – impossible, really – for us to do. We have to have God to do this stuff. But we have such a wimpy view of God, most of us, that we don’t really think we can trust Him. I’m SO thankful to the husband who wrote part of this post – his lightbulb moment is going to be a lightbulb moment for a lot of people.

      I agree – this helps us see things in a much more clear perspective.

      I’m proud of you for reading and searching for God’s face even when it is painful! It is SO WORTH IT!

  7. However, if a woman feels that a certain sexual act IS sin, and her husband insists on participating anyway (I have heard of certain unnatural acts being excused using that verse) then he is forcing her to violate her conscience, which IS sin. Every Heart Restored (I believe was the book) that talked about this issue – though it might also have been in Every Man’s Battle. It’s been a while since I read either. Remember that sexual intimacy was created to bring a husband and wife together as one. She should not refuse him physical intimacy, and he should not force her to perform acts she is convicted are sinful. Offending the “weaker [sister]” and all. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Buttafly!

      I agree that a husband must be very careful about trying to force his wife to do something that violates her conscience. Paul says that if something is done that is not out of faith, for that person, it is sin – because their conscience is violated.

  8. I think we also expect God’s will to mean success, health, lots of money, the American Dream. We ignore that God’s will calls us to suffering at times – and that is part of His plan to shape and discipline us. Not a popular concept today – but I think we miss God’s real will at times because we believe we ate entitled not to suffer and that suffering is bad and not ever in God’s will.

My grandmother is on hospice and won't be with us much longer (11-30-16). I will get to comments when I am able to but I need to be with family right now. Thanks for understanding.

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