When You Wonder What God’s Will is for Your Life

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I talked to a few different friends this weekend. Each of them were coming up on major life decisions. And all three of them happened to be believers, meaning, they each had a relationship with God and some kind of notion that God cares about them individually and is somewhat involved in the details of their lives.

But they all three carried that same angst in their voice. I recognized that angst because I’ve had it, too. You know, when you’ve done your part–you’ve prayed and you’ve sought and you’ve gone knocking on God’s door and then you’re just standing there waiting and wondering and you seriously wish God would just spell things out to you in the sky. That would sure be nice of Him.

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For some reason, He doesn’t do that. Now, there are a few times, perhaps, for some people, when God’s direction for their life has been pretty obvious. Like, some people just know they’re supposed to be a preacher, or their supposed to move over there to that city, or their supposed to adopt some kids, because God put it really big on their hearts. Kinda like that Jonah guy in the Bible, who heard God loud and clear and so he knew he was supposed to go to Nineveh, but he didn’t want to and so he just ran away instead.

But, if we’re really honest, most of us feel like God comes across awfully quiet. And we wonder where He is when we’ve got this major life decision to make.

Well, I hope I didn’t get your hopes up, but I’m not here to give you a formula to plug in, so that you can always know God’s will for your life. If there is a formula out there, I haven’t discovered it yet. But, I have picked up a few helpful things along the way. And even though I’ve still got lots to learn on this faith-road, I offer the little bit I’ve gleaned here for you.

One main thing I’m learning, is that God doesn’t hand out formulas. But He does give us His hand. 

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I know. I know, it sounds a little cliche’ maybe. But, the thing is that this life is indeed messy and riddled with all kinds of bumps and uncertainties, but our Maker promises to walk with us through the whole thing. We do need faith though. Faith plays a crucial part because without faith, we can’t trust God, much less believe that He exists.

And faith is so interesting, isn’t it? It’s like the easiest thing to do (to believe) and the hardest thing to do at the same time.

And so we go along in life and we come up to a fork in the road and we ask God which way to go because we’re scared to death to get it wrong. But God doesn’t always give us specifics. He made us with these hearts that love certain things and these brains that process life certain ways. He gifted us with these abilities and talents so that we can do certain things well. And He gives us Himself to talk to and lean into and the thing is, we’ve got so much freedom. So much freedom to choose.

My favorite philosopher, Dallas Willard, gave an illustration once that really helped me. He said something like this:

When you’re a parent and your kid comes up to you and asks if they can go outside, you say, “Sure. Just stay in the backyard.” You don’t care if they build a fort. Or climb a tree. Or dig a hole. Or rake a pile of leaves to jump in. You simply gave them some boundaries for their own good. And now they have all this freedom. And you love looking out the window and watching them plan and dream and imagine and build and just play.

When I think about what God’s boundaries are for His children, they can be summed up in the two greatest commandments:

Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

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Sometimes I think as believers, we over-spiritualize God’s will for our lives. God already gave us some specifics. To love Him with everything we’ve got. And to love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves.

It’s not that I don’t think we should ask Him about the big and little things. I ask God all day long what to do next because He’s a great thinker and I want to maximize the time I’ve got here. I’m learning how He talks to us back–those quiet inclinations of the heart–so I don’t stand and wait for signs.

The best thing I have to offer my seeking friends, is to remind you that it’s relationship with God that’s so important. God knows our hearts. He knows we want to please Him with our lives. He hears our prayers and He’s quiet big enough to close some doors that we ought not to walk through.

So, we can relax a little. Do some things we love. And as my momma often told me growin’ up, “Go have fun. Play in the backyard! I’ll call you in for supper.”

There’s just so much freedom in Christ. And it’s an adventurous thing to live this life with Him, until our faith becomes our sight.

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