It’s a question serious Christian young people often ask. And perhaps older people ought to ask it more than they do: how can I discover what God wants me to do and where God wants me to go? Asking this question is a good indicator that you are on the right track. Many people never think to ask whether they are living their lives according to God’s will. They have no comprehension of what this means or why they should seek the divine will. They follow the crowd in seeking pleasure, fame and wealth without any awareness of an alternative. They sleepwalk through life. They are possessed by the demon-spirit of the group.
But not you! You are awake. Desiring to know and do God’s will shows that you are aware that we were created for a purpose and that we have work to do. You are aware that only by doing God’s will can we accomplish anything lasting. And that is good, very good.
But sometimes we become anxious because we don’t receive clear sign of what to do next and where to go. We fear that we might fail to discern God’s will and make a serious mistake. We might major in the wrong subject, take the wrong job, move to the wrong state, buy the wrong car or marry the wrong person.
Anxiety about the consequences of our decisions is understandable; it plagues everyone. But for those who want to do God’s will there is no real reason to be anxious. For God is able to lead us to where he wants us to be and use our lives to accomplish great and lasting things even when we have no clear sign from God. God can do this even when we are anxious and confused. What matters is that God does his will in our lives, not that we know exactly how God is doing this. Perhaps, then, our anxiety about knowing the will of God is more about desire for psychological tranquility than passion for God’s will. So, keep this truth clearly in mind: we may fail but God will not. And even in our failure God accomplishes his will.
Does this mean that I stop seeking God’s will? No. Not at all! It means that we should seek it in complete confidence that God’s working his will does not depend on my finding it. How then may I seek God’s will in this new way of confidence? (1) Get clear that you really want God to guide your life according to his will. Pray that God will purify your heart from all double-mindness and hypocrisy. Make sure that it is God’s will you want and not merely relief from the anxiety of life’s decisions.
(2) Determine to do good and right in whatever situation you find yourself. Don’t allow dreams of future great deeds blind you to the opportunities of the present. We know that God wills us to love our neighbors. Do what is clear now and allow God to take care of what is obscure. (3) God created you and has been preparing you for his work since before you were born. You have God-given abilities and interests that will fit the tasks God has assigned you. If you are not good in math, it is not likely that God wants you to become an engineer. (4) God also works through reason and common sense, which are also his gifts. Use them.
Next week will conclude the first year of ifaqtheology! I’ve posted 57 essays for a total of 48,700 words. I will celebrate that milestone by reviewing the past year and announcing the theme for year number 2.
Well-stated, my friend—spoken from a pastoral heart with wisdom received in reverent reflection on God, his character and his revelation–wisdom that avoids the panic sometimes generated by a legalistic kind of pietism that allows no room for imperfection in decisions and actions even while seeking his will. Such wisdom avoids also the cynicism that spreads like mold on a concrete wall in a damp and dark basement–often manifested by those who (probably gradually and unknowingly) have reduced the actual seeking of God’s will to some non-biblical quest for selfish satisfaction. What a blessing to know that God works in us “to will and to do” what pleases him!
Thank you, Edward. I hope we can visit again in person soon. I am looking forward to reading all the papers from the conference.