It is possible for a believer to miss God's perfect will for his life. Saul was chosen by God to be king over Israel, but eventually as a result of his impatience and disobedience, God had to reject him. True, he remained on the throne for some years more, but he had missed God's will for his life. Solomon is another example. He pleased God in this earlier years, but fell away later through marrying heathen women.

Twice in the New Testament we are exhorted to take a warning from the example of the Israelites who perished in the wilderness. God's perfect will for them was that they should enter Canaan. But all except two of them missed God's best through unbelief and disobedience (1 Cor. 10:1-12; Heb. 3:7-14). Many believers have similarly missed God's perfect plan for their lives through disobedience and compromise - often in marriage or in the choice of a career.

G Christian Weiss in his book, `The Perfect Will of God', tells of a teacher in a Bible School who told his students one day, "I have lived most of my life on God's second best". God had called him to be a missionary in his younger days, but he had turned aside from that calling as a result of marriage. He then began a selfish business life, working in a bank, with the primary purpose of making money. God continued to speak to him for a number of years, but he refused to yield. One day his little child had a fall from a chair and died. This drove him to his knees, and after a whole night spent in tears before God, he put his life into God's hands completely. It was too late for him to go to Africa now. That door was closed. He knew that had been God's best for him, but he had missed it. All that he could do was to ask God to put the rest of his life to some use. He became a teacher in a Bible School, but could never forget that this was only God's second-best.

Weiss continues to say, "I have since met numerous people who have borne similar testimony. Usually these testimonies have been bathed, or at least marked, with bitter tears. For while, thank God, He has ways of using even those who have sinned and have gone past that single entrance into the channel of His perfect will, life can never be the way He originally intended it. It is a tragedy to miss the perfect will of God for one's life. Christian, mark well these words and this testimony lest you too miss His first choice. God, doubtless, will use any life that is submitted to His hands, anywhere along life's pathway, but let us be among those who have sought and surrendered to His will at the outset of life's journey, and thus avoid those painful and shameful detours along the way."

We just cannot live the victorious life or be of maximum use to the Lord, or be a blessing to others in any place we choose. Some may feel that they can choose their own career and their place of residence and then seek to be a witness for the Lord wherever they are. The Lord may in His mercy use such believers in a limited way. But their usefulness in God's vineyard will be only a fraction of what it could have been had they earnestly sought His plan and remained in the center of His perfect will. Stunted spiritual growth and limited fruitfulness are but the consequences of a careless disregard of God's laws.

If you have disobeyed God in some matter, turn to Him in repentance now, before it is too late. It may yet be possible for you, as in Jonah's case, to come back into the mainstream of God's plan for your life.

Each of us has but one life. Blessed is the man who like Paul, can say at the end of it, that he has finished his God-appointed task (2 Tim. 4:7).

"The world and all its passionate desires will one day disappear. But the man who is following God's will is part of the Permanent and cannot die" (1 John 2:17-JBP).

"Live life then with a due sense of responsibility, not as men who do not know the meaning and purpose of life, but as those who do. Make the best use of your time, despite all the difficulties of these days. Don't be vague but firmly grasp what you know to be the will of God" (Eph. 5:15-17- JPB).

Zac Poonen