How can I know God’s will for my life? This is a question I get asked on a regular basis. Have you ever been facing a big decision and wondered how you could really know what direction God wanted you to take? I want to share with you several ways God speaks into our lives and directs our steps if we’ll allow Him to:
- The Bible (God’s Word)
Sometimes we can determine God’s will very easily by knowing what He has already clearly spoken to us through His Word. If we are faced with a decision that is out of line with what God has already said, then we can know it IS NOT His will. One time I dealt with a young unmarried couple that was struggling with all kinds of dysfunction in their relationship. They had the genius idea that having a baby together would help bring them closer together (can you say STUPID?) They claimed that they had prayed about it and God told them, “Yes, have a child together out of wedlock.” Obviously, God had not said any such thing as that would be a contradiction to what He has already said clearly in His Word. So a great starting point when trying to determine God’s will in a given situation is to seek truth from Scripture.
I’m not talking about canned, recited prayers. I’m talking about real conversation with God through His Holy Spirit where He literally will impress things upon our hearts as we’re speaking with Him. I can’t fully explain how this works, but people who have the Spirit of God living within them are able to hear from God during times of prayer. A great book on this subject is The Power of a Whisper, by Bill Hybels.
- Your spouse
God gave you a spouse for a reason…you needed someone to bring completeness to your life and compliment you in areas where you were lacking. Anyone who rejects the input and advice from their spouse is a fool. If you’re planning on pushing ahead with a decision while your spouse has major reservations, you’d be wise to reconsider. It could be that God is trying to help you discover His will through the spouse He has given you.
- Seeking Godly council from others
Proverbs 11:14 tells us that “there is safety in a multitude of councilors.” I’m not talking about your drinking buddies down at the bar! I’m talking about finding people around you who love God and love you and are willing to be honest with you even if it will be hard for you to hear. If you have three, four, or more godly friends who are actively walking with Christ advising you NOT to proceed with something, chances are that God is once again speaking into your life through these people.
- Circumstances (Open/Closed Doors)
Sometimes I believe God leads us through “open doors” of opportunity or “closed doors” to what looked like a good opportunity. Another way of saying this is that sometimes He directs us through circumstances beyond our control. This could look like a house purchase falling through or an expected job promotion not panning out. Sometimes God just steps in and allows a door to swing open or shut to help us make the right decisions.
- Others will see something in me that I don’t see in myself
It’s possible that God will begin to direct you down a certain path at the encouragement of others who see something in you that you might not even really see in yourself. This happened to me in the summer of 2002 when I finally surrendered to God leading in my life to go into pastoral ministry. I had a few of these other elements working on me at the same time, but along with that I had people beginning to ask me if I had ever considered being a pastor. It wasn’t just one or two either. Over the course of that summer many people began to call out something in me that I was trying to run from. Looking back I can see how God was using them to affirm His calling upon my life.
One of the titles for Jesus in Scripture is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). When we are in His will we will experience peace…even if many things around us are “falling apart at the seams”. When I finally accepted what was becoming more and more clear to me…that God wanted me to leave my career as a firefighter and become a church-planting pastor…it was as if a heavy weight was lifted from my shoulders even though my family and I faced a very uncertain future with some very real challenges. If you are not experiencing the peace of God in your life it could be that God is trying to take you in a different direction.
This is not an exhaustive list and I would suggest that these things I’ve listed work together in harmony to help us determine and hear God’s will for our life. Is there anything I’ve missed? What would you add to the list?