Among young believers, few concepts seem as often addressed, yet so elusive, as God’s will for our lives. We wonder who He wants us to date (or how to find a partner in the first place!), where to attend college, how to choose a job, when to marry, and what our career should be.
As I near graduation, I relate. We often mistake college for a step that will automatically clarify what we’re going to do when we finish. Yet, for me, there are several "next steps" including high-pressure grad-school, marriage, and even church-related decisions. And all the while there is an alarming lack of writing in the sky.
As followers of Christ, some uncertainty is simply part of life. One reason is that we are obligated to make decisions for Another’s glory. We’re not living for ourselves (Romans 14:7-9), so we want to be clear on what is pleasing to Christ. However, there is no room for panic. God’s Word may not tell us all we want to know about the rest of our lives, but it points us to all we need to know to serve God and make decisions that honor Him.
Do what God has made clear
Scripture never promises a Gideon’s fleece experience (Judges 6:36-40) to confirm God’s will to us. It prescribes a method for knowing God’s will which takes hard work and patience, “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice to God, holy and acceptable...do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2).
It may seem strange, but before looking for God to show us the way, we may need to look in the mirror to make certain we are doing what He has already revealed for us to do: presenting ourselves as a holy and living sacrifice; being transformed by the renewing of our minds through His Word. God may choose not to entrust us with what we’re supposed to do next until we’re following His Word regarding what we’re supposed to do now. As we seek to know and do God’s will, it is of foremost importance that we ascertain whether or not we are living in light of what has already been revealed, whether or not we are actively surrendering to Him and renewing our minds through His Word.
Don’t be afraid
If we are striving to follow God by meeting daily with Him and getting to know what He is like through His Word, we should be enabled to live with confidence in Him. This means when doors do open, we may pray and seek before we walk through, but we don’t have to get stuck in “analysis paralysis;” i.e. being afraid that we’ll do the wrong thing or experience hardship.
God has not changed since He led David to fight for His honor against Goliath while others trembled in fear. He has not started calling His people to “a spirit of fear” as opposed to “power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7).
We may have to set aside some time for seeking God’s will regarding the different opportunities in our lives, but the motive for delay should be His honor, not simply self-preservation.
Experience the joy of faith
We should remember we are called to walk by faith—as opposed to walking by sight—based on the assurance of our eternal dwelling place with Christ (2 Corinthians 5:6-9). If we are truly depending on Christ for our eternal dwelling place and security, surely we have grounds to be confident in Him with the other circumstances in our lives.
Out of all people in the world, the Christian should be freest to make big decisions, take big risks, and do hard things because we have entrusted ourselves to God’s care. The idea of a “leap of faith,” jumping into the darkness not knowing what is there, is really an inadequate way to picture the decisions of a Christian. Our faith is not a blind hope that things will turn out right but a confidence in a Person who will “work all things together for good” (Romans 8:28).
The way in which we approach decisions is an opportunity to demonstrate what kind of God we serve. We can trust God with the outcome, learning “how to be brought low” and “how to abound” through Christ (Philippians 4:12-13). By not fretting, we are casting our anxieties on Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).
As you try to discern what God’s will is for your life, ask yourself: Am I conformed to the world or am I being transformed? Have I presented myself to God as a living sacrifice? Then walk with God by faith, trusting that when He presents opportunities, He has all the power and goodness to work things out for His glory and our good.