What’s God’s Will for my Life?

Chances are you’ve asked this before. Probably more than once. For me, this hasn’t even been just one simple question, but a different one for every situation.  I can’t tell you how many times and how many different ways I’ve asked God for direction.  

What am I supposed to do with my degree? What job should I pursue?  Are we meant to move?  Should we have kids?  What church do we attend?  Should we continue in the ministry we’ve been in for 7 years or jump into something brand new and uncharted?

And you know what? Sometimes He didn’t answer. 

At least not in the way I thought.  I don’t necessarily believe that God has your life completely scripted out.  I like to think of it more as an improv show than a movie.  (Comedy and all…)  He gives us a topic, or a scenario, and we decide how we want to proceed.  Does He know what we’re going to do?  Of course.  But does He control us and force us to choose something? I don’t think so.  (This is really a whole other deep philosophical topic that we will probably tackle one day, or talk about in the comments. In the meantime, I’m going to get back to my original question.)

What is God’s will for my life?

Look at Romans 12:2, a very popular verse often used in youth programs to spur teens on to live differently from their peers, or in motivational speeches to adults trying to nudge us out of our comfort zone. (And here I want to check out the second half that is generally left off of the inspirational quote pictures.)

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2 (emphasis added)

What Paul is saying here is that if we can change ourselves, change the way we live and the way we think, then we can learn to know God’s will.  We will be able to know what pleases Him and what does not.  The closer you are to God, the more you talk with Him, the more you read scripture, the more you tune into the nature of God and listen to His voice, the more you will be able to understand His will.

Think about the person you are closest to.  Your spouse or your best friend, a parent or sibling or your child.  You know what they love, what bothers them the most, their favorite hobby or how they unwind after a long day.  For instance, I know what is going to displease my husband, and what is going to make him happy.  But I didn’t when we first met.  As I got to know him, as we grew closer while dating, when we got married and started living together, we learned each other more and more.  For example, my husband likes Thai food, but not curry.  If I’m grabbing take-out, I don’t need to ask him if he wants me to bring him curry or Thai fried rice.  Similarly, the closer you grow to God, the more intimate your relationship with Him, the easier it will be for you to know what He loves and what He doesn’t.  When you know that, it’s easier to learn His will.  And what’s even cooler?  The closer you get to God, the more you start to hear His voice and experience the different ways He speaks to people.  So even if you don’t know if he wants Pad Thai or Thai Fried Rice, you can ask. [pullquote-right]And even when you feel like He isn’t answering your prayer, maybe He already has. [/pullquote-right]

And even when you feel like He isn’t answering your prayer, maybe He already has. The Bible tells us God’s will.  Over and over and over and over. Jesus gives us some pretty direct commands.  Scripture tells us how to live and how to love. It tells us what God loves and what He hates. It gives us guidelines on the way we should treat others.   But I think Colossians 3:17 really sums it up well.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:17

 

We do everything for the glory of God. What can this look like?

If you are working a minimum wage job (or two or three), trying to make ends meet for your family, you glorify God in your daily grind. You treat your co-workers and customers or clients with love and respect, despite how they treat you. This is the same if you work at a high-paying job, or if you are the boss of a huge company and have hoards of people working under you.  You treat them fairly and don’t take advantage of their time and hard work. (Ephesians 6:5-9)

If you are out running errands, you glorify God with the way you interact with other shoppers and how you treat the clerk ringing you out – even if they mess up your order or don’t let you use your coupons.

If you are hanging out with friends, you glorify God in your conversations, building each other up instead of tearing each other down – even in jest. (Ephesians 4:29) 

When you are at home with your family, you glorify God in every single thing you do for them, from washing the dishes to disciplining your children in love and gentleness, to serving your spouse even if they are not serving you.  

When you are alone, you glorify God with what you choose to spend your time on.  What are you looking at? What are you thinking about?  You’ve surely heard it said before, “What would Jesus say to you if He walked in the room right now?”  

Every single thing you do, you consider it as if God asked you to do it (Colossians 3:23).  Every person you come across, you think of as someone special to God.  How would He treat them?  How would He love them?  Even if they are treating you horribly, if your boss acts as if you have no value, if your friend jokes about you in ways that secretly hurt, YOU glorify God.  You can be honest, but speak with love and gentleness.  Speak humbly.  Be graceful to one another.  Get into the habit of asking yourself, “How can I glorify God here? How can I show the love that Jesus would show?”

Ultimately, you are where you are for a reason.  You may not understand it.  But even when we don’t understand, we glorify Him anyway.  We are called to be a light to the whole world.  That means at the job you hate. That means at the gas station. That means waiting in the long line.  That means in traffic.  That means at the restaurant.  That means at home.  That means when you are by yourself.

And you know, THIS IS HARD.  Because it requires us to change. Really change. 

It requires us to stop thinking about ourselves.  It requires us to be honest with ourselves.  It requires a deep transformation, not just a surface level adjustment.  (Although sometimes starting with the surface level things can help us begin the transformation of our thoughts.)

All of this is not to say that God doesn’t have good plans for you!  It’s just not always what we expect.  There is nothing wrong with asking God if you’re supposed to pursue a new job, whether or not you should get married, have kids, buy a new car. He may bring you out of that job you feel stuck in, but He may not.  He may give you the spouse of your dreams, but He may let you stay single. Sometimes He will give you a clear, resounding answer. Other times, you may think you don’t hear anything.  In those times, you need to test the situation against God’s character, e.g., if you are looking at a job that is going to make you more money, but it’s going to take you away from your family for long periods of time and test your morals and convictions, it’s probably not what God wants.  

But what if I choose wrong?

Ultimately, even when we might question our own choices in life, as long as we’re pursuing Him and striving to glorify Him in everything, I don’t think we’ll mess it up too bad.  God is graceful! He can use you where you are if you let Him, and He’s the giver of second chances. God wants to give you the desires of your heart – the trick is to set your heart on His good, pleasing and perfect will. (Matt 6:33)

But whatever your situation, even in the waiting, you glorify Him. 

And remember how I mentioned that Jesus gave us some pretty direct commands?  Let’s not forget the biggest.

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18-20

All these ways that you are glorifying God in your daily life, you are ultimately working to make disciples.  Throughout His teaching, Jesus told us to instruct others, to love them and help them grow, to demonstrate the life He modeled.  If you don’t feel qualified to do that, that’s okay, keep growing closer to God.  This isn’t a commission only for pastors and church staff.  This is a commission to all believers.  You aren’t meant to only sit and be taught your entire life, but to take part in this mission too!

So, if you’ve been in doubt or searching for God’s will, I hope this has given you a place to start! Comment below and share what you’ve been discovering about God’s will in your life.

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