There is no simple answer to your question. The short response is that we can’t solve this problem for you. You have to solve it for yourself. You can only do this through prayer and faith and by walking closely with the Lord. You’ll discover God’s will for your life as you become the person God wants you to be. It’s all about your relationship with Him. And that relationship, like any other, is something that evolves and emerges over time.
Paul gives us some valuable insight into this subject in Romans 12:2: “Do not conform any longer 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” (NIV).
According to this verse, there are three steps to discerning the will of God: non-conformity, transformation, and renewal. Paul says that your path will become clear as you step out of the currents and trends of this present world, allow the Lord to remake you in His image, and develop a new way of thinking. In other words, he suggests that God’s will is not so much a matter of knowing as becoming. It isn’t something you find. It’s something you “morph” into as you submit to the truth and let Christ remold you by the power of His Spirit.
But is this all the Bible has to say to us about God’s will? Doesn’t it offer any more specific information? As a matter of fact, it does. There are several places where it tells exactly what God’s will looks like when it takes shape in the lives of His people:
“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion and lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5).
“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
“For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men” (1 Peter 2:15).
“It is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil” (1 Peter 3:17).
“My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority” (John 7:17).
There’s a pattern evident in these verses. God’s specific will is that you should become a certain kind of person: chaste, obedient, thankful, kind, and loving. Everything else flows from that.
Does this mean that He has no particular plan for the details of your life? Doesn’t He care about the person you marry, the career path you follow, the places you go, the things you do, the people you touch? Some would argue that He doesn’t. They would say that His will for us is fluid and open-ended. We can agree to a certain extent, but not entirely. After all, God is the Master Planner, the Sovereign Lord of the universe. He’s the One who “declares the end from the beginning” (Isaiah 46:10) and who numbers the very hairs of our heads (Luke 12:7). As He said to the Jewish exiles in Babylon, so He says to us today: “I know the thoughts that I think toward you … thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
This suggests that God is intimately involved with the ins and outs of your daily experience. He does have a plan for your life, and He is guiding you according to His pre-determined purposes. “God,” says The Westminster Confession of Faith (Chapter III, section 1), “from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass …” This doesn’t mean that He’s obligated to tell you what He’s up to. That’s a mystery to which He alone is privy. If you need to know any of the details, He will reveal them to you at the proper time. Meanwhile, your job is to stay on track with the process of transformation. Where you cannot see or know, you must learn to trust and obey.
If you need further help understanding these concepts, call us. Focus on the Family has a staff of pastoral counselors who would love to speak with you over the phone.
Offering Yourself in Service to God: Gary Thomas offers counsel and encouragement to those who are frustrated with a lack of progress in realizing their goals and purpose in life.
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