One of the difficulties that many have with the idea of discovering and following God’s will for their life is largely one of emphasis. This assumes that you have gotten by the biggest hurdle, actually desiring to follow God and not your own selfish desires. Too often we get hung up on the how or process, rather than the end result. For example, when Cindy and I are on a road trip, we know where we want to end up; the only question is the route we take along the way. Sometimes our priority is the scenery, while at other times it’s the quickest route to our destination. The only real problem is when we can’t agree on the priority. Ideally, the route we take will get us to our destination on time and allow us to enjoy the ride; this is the desired end result. The process of discovering and following God’s will for our lives is not unlike a road trip, in that there are decisions to make and priorities to set along the way.
Perhaps the easiest part of this process of discovery is the destination. God has made it quite clear in His word that His most earnest desire for us, during the “trip” and in the end, is to give glory to Him and to enjoy Him forever (Westminster Shorter Catechism, 1647). The apostle Paul tells us, “So whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God (1Corinthians 10:31). Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice (Philippians 3:4)! In Revelation 21: 3-4, a voice from the throne of God describes to the apostle John what the end of man is to be; for those he called and from among them, those who answered His call. “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” We are to live our lives with our eyes fixed on the new order of things that Jesus Christ brought into being, according to His Fathers will and by the power of the Holy Spirit.
It would seem then that our destination has been predestined and clearly described for us in God’s word. But what about the trip, how can I know if I’m traveling the road God would have me to follow? Let me highlight a few ideas from His word. First, discovering and then following God’s will is a process not an event. Don’t expect to hear a voice from heaven whispering or shouting to you, but that’s not to say there won’t be both subtle and not so subtle nudges from God to get you moving in the right direction. In order to recognize them we need to be open and expectant of his leading and equally important, we should listen in humility, seeking only to following Him and not trying to take the lead. If we are doing the leading, more than likely there will be detours that will only get us into trouble causing us to lose our way. This takes us to the second idea which is that you will make mistakes along the way, it’s expected, so don’t be anxious or get discouraged. The key is to learn from them and make the corrections needed to get you back on track.
The third and fourth ideas are really linked together and are essential to the process. Paul gives us this instruction in 1Thessalonians 5:16, “Be joyful always; pray continuously; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” It follows then that if we want God’s help and guidance, then it is necessary to be in constant communication with Him. We do this by being constantly aware of His presence, both within us and in front of us, and allowing him to work in us and through us. This is not a matter of falling to our knees praising His name, or presenting Him our list of needs. No, it is about living every moment of everyday as if we were doing just that. The other essential is that we are to read His word regularly, but more importantly, we are to consider it and then act accordingly. “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified, for God did not call us to be impure (disobey), but to live a holy life (1Thessalonians 4:3, 7).” What does it mean to be sanctified and to live a holy life? Simply that we are to be set apart for His good purposes, which is His will for us in Christ Jesus.
These first four ideas, be open, expectant and humble, expect to make mistakes and don’t be anxious and get discouraged, pray continually and fourth; read, consider and act in accordance to God’s word, all deal with our relationship and communication with God. The final two are related to our relationship with others and requires us to be introspective and aware of what God chooses to put in your path. The fifth idea or recommendation is to consult wise and faithful friends and ask them what they see in us, as to how God is working in our life. Perhaps it’s a Christian friend or a pastor you know personally. You can be sure that because of your relationship with them and their relationship with God, the advice they give will not be born of self-interest. At the same time be sensitive and receptive to their suggestions as to how you may be able to minister to and satisfy the needs of others with the gifts God has given you (1Peter 4:10). In doing so, you will be doing the will of God.
The last idea is perhaps a bit subjective but not everything in life comes at you like a bolt of lightning and is easily seen. Look for patterns in your life, not those that are the result of temptation and sin, but rather the situations and circumstances that leave the door open for you walk into someone’s life and make a real difference. “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. Humble yourself, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time (1Peter: 3:15; 5:6).” Is there risk in following the will of God? In a world where Satan still reigns, of course, but our strength to move forward is found in Christ and we are reminded that “those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good (4:19).”
It is God’s will that we are to live in the freedom and joy that can only be found in a personal relationship with Christ. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).”
Tool # 349 If both of you are focused on doing the will of God, then your relationship with each other should reflect the selflessness of Christ. If not, then what you are intent on is your will, not His will.