LEARNING TO KNOW GOD FROM HIS WILL
In the future I will speak on this topic specifically. Perhaps I will need to speak four or five messages on this. Today I will just speak briefly about it. If we want to know God’s will, we also need to deal with God. If we have not been dealt with by God, we cannot know His will. Some brothers and sisters may think, "God’s will is the greatest thing in the entire world; how can we possibly know it?" Yes, God is indeed great. How then can He reveal His will to little men like us? We have to first adjust ourselves. If a mirror is foggy, it cannot reflect a clear image; if it is too long or too short, convex or concave, it will also distort a person’s real image. If we do not adjust ourselves, the will of God will be very distorted by us. Every time we want to know God’s will, we must first deal with our selves. We must be willing to lay down our selves and forsake everything, before God will reveal His will to us. Whenever we are seeking God’s will, our self must first be dealt with by God.
Whenever Mr. George Müller sought God’s will, he continually searched and examined the situation. In his diary, whenever he mentioned something for the first time, he would always say that things seemed to point toward a certain way. The second time he mentioned it, he would say again that things seemed to point toward that way. After a month or two, he would record the same thing with the same remark that things seemed to be pointing a certain way. It would sound like, "On a certain day, someone came, and what he asked seemed to have to do with this matter." Or it would say, "On a certain day, what a certain co-worker said seemed to match this matter." Sometimes he would say that on a certain day he received a promise. After a period of time, he would record that the matter was now quite clear. Still later, he would say, "Now not only is there the word, but there is the supply also." Yet later, he would say, "Now the matter is absolutely clear." Sometimes he would record in his diary that though he did not have much money, God was beginning to provide and was blessing him again. Therefore, he was not afraid of those who scoffed at him, neither would he make a contract with others. Whenever a need arose, he asked God to provide, and God’s provision always met the need exactly. He was always learning to deal with God.
One day as he was praying, he felt that God wanted him to return to Germany. He said to God, "There are three matters at present which prevent me from returning: (1) if my wife goes along, there is no one to take care of my three children; (2) there are no traveling funds; and (3) there is a need for someone to care for the orphans in my place. I do not know whether You want me to go. If You do, please make provisions for these matters." One day someone came, and he felt that this person would be very suitable to care for the orphans. He told God that one need had been met, but that there were still two more. Before long, a sister wanted to stay in his house for a few months, who, at the same time, could take care of his children. The second need was also met. Then someone offered an amount of money to him (he never took any money from his work), and the last need was also met. When this happened, he asked God, "Can I leave for Germany now?" These dealings were clearly recorded in his diary. He always learned to deal with God step by step.
How can one know God’s will? Someone may tell you that the first thought that comes to your mind after you pray is God’s will. But this is not always so. Mr. Müller’s spiritual growth was faster than others because of his thorough dealing. This has much to do with prayer. Those who do not pray in a thorough way can never know God.
THE STORY OF ABIGAIL
Mr. Müller once taught a little girl how to pray. Eventually, she learned it. The girl’s name was Abigail. She was very young. She wanted some colorful yarn in order to make a play ball. When she saw this man of God, Mr. Müller, coming to her house, she bargained with him, saying, "My parents said you can pray very well. I would like to ask you for one thing. I would like to have a yarn ball with different colors. Can you please pray for me?" The old man said, "Yes, but you need to pray for this as well." The little girl knelt down, and this man of God also knelt down with her. The girl first prayed, "I want a yarn ball, and it must be colorful." Then this man of God bowed down his head with silvery hair, put his hand on the girl, and prayed, "Lord, here is a child who wants a yarn ball with different colors. No one knows this, neither can I provide it. This matter is Yours; please listen to her prayer." After this old man uttered his prayer, he was silent, yet he appeared to still mutter something. Then he stood up and told the girl that God would give her the colorful yarn within a couple of days. At that time the girl’s heart leapt. He brought her request to God. She thought that perhaps her grandmother or her aunt would bring her some colorful yarn. The following evening, her father brought home some colorful yarn to her. She was extremely happy. Her father owned a department store, and all the other kinds of yarn, except this one, had been sold. It had been on display in the store for a long time. Since it did not look nice on the shelf, he took it home and gave it to his daughter. The next time Mr. Müller saw her, he asked, "Have you enjoyed playing with your yarn ball?" He did not ask her whether or not she had received the ball, but whether or not she had fun playing with it. A person who knows God has this kind of assurance. Mr. Müller had countless anecdotes like this during his lifetime. Every time, he was always very accurate. It took him several decades to learn. He followed God until he was more than ninety years old. Many of his experiences were learned from following God. He never did anything in a vague way. In his diary he always recorded clearly what had happened on a certain day. He dealt with God in this way all the time. It is no wonder that he had such a deep experience. Today our mistake is in thinking that spiritual knowledge is mere biblical knowledge. Little do we realize that genuine spiritual knowledge must be learned from God. If we want to learn before God, we must deal with God and be dealt with by God.
THE INSEPARABILITY OF DEALING AND KNOWING
The most precious thing on earth today is the knowledge of God. However, in order to know God, we need to be dealt with by Him in everything. We need to be dealt with by Him in prayer, and we need to be dealt with by Him in matters related to His will. We need to deal with sin and our environment. When something happens, we need to ask, "What does this mean?" and "What is God after?" A lazy person can never know God. We can only know God through prayer and through communicating with Him. We should be like Paul who, after asking the Lord once without getting an answer, asked the Lord two or three times until the Lord spoke to him. We should also learn of our Lord. He prayed in Gethsemane the first time, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will" (Matt 26:39). He prayed a second time and a third time until He was completely clear on this matter. We also need to pray once, twice, three times until we get the answer from God. Only in this way can we know God.
I would like to speak some words to the co-workers: if you have not learned to be dealt with by God and to deal with God, you can never go out to work because you are not yet even a proper Christian. If you do not know God’s principles, God’s way of doing things, and God’s nature, you are no different from other people. If you can only give people some spiritual theories, you cannot lead them on in the spiritual way. A person who has read a tour book on Hangchow or Peking has not necessarily been to Hangchow or Peking. A person who owns a cookbook has not necessarily eaten all the dishes in the cookbook. In the same way, if you merely understand the Bible, but have no experience, you can never lead others to the right way.
If you simply have experience and do not know the Bible, you will not have the proper word for other people. The Lord said, "You err, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God." This was the Lord’s rebuke. Many believers lack the knowledge or the realization of God’s power. Many people only know some spiritual theories. In the end all they have are theories. Likewise, all you have are theories. They do not know what they are talking about. Neither do you know what you are talking about. Many people are able to teach others simply because they have a better memory and can remember more doctrines. O brothers and sisters, this is too poor. May we learn to know Him in prayer and in His will. We can know God. There is nothing more important than knowing God. May we not just retain what we have heard today in our mind, but, from now on, may we be diligent to learn to know God and accept His dealing.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 10: The Present Testimony (3), Chapter 14, by Watchman Nee)