I got a lot of positive feedback from you all on my post from a couple weeks back, “Waiting on God”. One of the questions I received from a reader following the post was this: “How do you know what God’s calling you to do, when it’s time? What if you think it’s His plan, but it really isn’t?”
I can’t tell you how many times I have struggled with this in my own life. Because, the reality is, there is no telephone line where I can just call God up, chat about my plans for the future, and write down notes on where He’s telling me to go. “Yes, I want you to take a right at the book deal, follow it through and stop at this blog post, then pause for a while and expand this area of your life.”
It doesn’t work like that.
The reality of the matter is, unless God supernaturally steps down and has some kind of face-to-face conversation with you, you’ll probably never be able to say with one hundred percent certainty, “This absolutely positively what He wants me to do next!” You’ll probably always have some small amount of doubt and uncertainty of the future. You’ll always be wondering what you’re supposed to do next, and those little freak out moments might never completely go away.
That being said, you can still know God’s overall will for your life and follow it unwaveringly. Because following Christ doesn’t mean having all the answers or always knowing what step comes next. Following Christ means trusting. Listening. Making mistakes from time to time but using those mistakes to draw you closer in your walk with the Lord.
I have found, through studying Scripture and watching God’s hand in my own life, that there are several ways of determining God’s will for my life. Want to hear them? (Of course you do. I just like asking rhetorical questions that no one can actually answer)
The first step to knowing God’s will for your life is understanding God’s role in your life.
Who is God to you? Is He a magical genie sent to grant your every prayer request with the rapidity and thoroughness that comes with being divine? Is He a compass that you consult whenever you’re not sure which step to take and need something solid to back you up? Or is He the Lord of your life?
Understanding who God is just might possibly be the most important key in understanding what His will is for your life. Because once you realize that God is the ruler of the universe–that He is above and beyond everything we can see or imagine here on earth–that He is holy, pure, and righteous–and that our darkened hearts can never really know Him in their truest sinful state… You will understand the richness of the depths of His love. Once you understand how holy He is and how unholy you are, you will finally come to grips with just how much you need Him, not only for wisdom and direction, but for everything!
But the realization that God is infinitely good and perfect and that we are not is closely tied to the realization that through the sacrificial death and resurrection of His perfect Son, we can be counted as holy before God. His love reaches down to us and draws us to Him. And once we turn from our sin and trust in Him for salvation, we have a closeness to God similar to the relationship of a Father and child.
The second step to understanding God’s will for your life is to embrace this relationship of Father and child.
Seek to know God. (James 4:8) Spend time not only reading your Bible, but sitting in silence and meditating on His words. Write down passages that speak to your soul. Pray back praises from the Psalms and other books to God. Worship Him in every aspect of your life, and let that joy that comes from knowing Him fill you every day. Don’t think of God as an unreachable being that can only be reached through confession, priests, or preachers. Realize that although He is the infinite ruler of the universe, He is also your Father. And He wants you to spend time with Him, enjoying His company and soaking up His presence.
The third step to understanding God’s will for your life is learning to trust the instincts He’s placed in your heart.
If you’re following steps one and two, then you’ve reached a place in life where Christ is not just your Savior, but your Lord. He’s the most beautiful and important part of your life, and the desire of your heart is going to be to please Him. Once you’ve gotten your heart and mind in a place where glorifying God is your number one priority, you will have an innate desire to do things that will serve Him. When an opportunity comes up where you can participate and point others toward Christ, you’ll want to do that! And guess what? That’s what God will be wanting you to do. Whether it’s writing, singing, building, sewing, or plumbing–you will be doing it to the glory of Christ.
The final step to understanding God’s will for your life is the realization that, as a Christian, everything you do and say will be used by God to glorify Himself.
You will make mistakes sometimes. Your sinful heart will occasionally cause you to slip up or stumble. But do you trust that God is powerful enough to use even your mistakes and failings to accomplish His will? (1 John 3:19-20) Do you believe that God already has a plan for your life, and that nothing you can do or say is going to mess up what He already has mapped out for you to do for Him? (Jeremiah 29:11)
The beauty of this love, this grace, is that nothing we could ever day or say is beyond God’s control. He is stronger than our frail hearts and confused minds. He is always going to be able to use us, as long as we approach life with the mindset that we long to be used. There will be days when we feel confused and lost. But those are only brief moments in the grand scheme of life. Those are the moments where God is simply telling us to wait. To trust that He is working. That He is always working for our good and our final joy. (Romans 8:28)
The question isn’t whether or not God is working in your life. Because He is working in it. (Philippians 2:12-13) The question is: How are you going to help Him accomplish His will for your life? Are you going to seek to know Him more every day? Are you going to follow the impulses to serve that He places before you? Are you going to spend every day of your life joyfully loving Him and trusting that He is in control, no matter how confusing things seem at times to our tainted eyes?
God has a plan–a will–for your life. And it’s for your good, because it’s to know Him more. That’s right, God’s will for your life isn’t any kind of complicated or convoluted formula that you have to spend every day deciphering through long prayers and fortune cookies. His plan for your life is simply to trust Him, to follow Him, and to spend every moment of every day seeking to love Him more. If you do that, you will be happy. You will be content. And you will know that every desire of your heart will be from Him.
So, I hope this helps. I understand that this is an extremely challenging concept for many–Christians and non Christians–to understand. So I’d love to open up discussion on the topic. Feel free to ask any questions you might have below and I’ll do my best to answer through Scripture!
I’d also like to suggest a great book on this topic. If you are struggling with understanding God’s will for your life, the best book I can recommend would be “Knowing God” by J. I. Packer. The more you understand about God and who He is, the clearer His will for your life will be!