Do what is right and good in the Lord's sight, so that it may go well with you. —Deuteronomy 6:18
Do you believe that you are consciously in the will of God? God wants you to be in His will and to know what His will is. Paul's word followed the previous admonition: "Find out what pleases the Lord" (Eph. 5:10). When you find out what pleases the Lord—and then do it—you may be sure that you are in His will.
The inner testimony of the Spirit, which will always correspond to God's revealed will (the Bible), is sufficient to convey that you are in His will. If you are not in His will it is because you either didn't obey God's explicit Word, like Jonah (Jon. 1:1-3), or you moved ahead of Him, like Joseph and Mary (Luke 2:41-44).
But "all's well that ends well," as Shakespeare put it. At the end of the day, after having a quarrel with the Lord, Jonah let God have the last word (Jon. 4:11). So it was with Joseph and Mary (Luke 2:51).
Both accounts have these ingredients in common—the people referred to were temporarily out of God's will but fully in it in the end. Is it possible to be out of the will of God and yet in the will of God at the same time? Yes. God permits things in your life that sidetrack you for a time. But it is part of His long-term strategy for your life. All that is permitted as to time and circumstance is redeemable.
Whether one has sinned grievously like Jonah or has run ahead of the Lord like Joseph and Mary, God does not desert His own. His aim in each case is to teach you His "ways"—if you will listen. As long as you can hear God's voice and accept His rebukes, it means you are not stone-deaf to the Spirit. Not only is God not finished with you, but the best is just around the corner.
Excerpted from The Sensitivity of the Spirit (Charisma House, 2002).