Originally published October 6, 2017
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What is God’s will for my life?
I’ve asked this question before. I don’t remember the exact circumstances, but it was probably some time in my late teens to mid-twenties. You know- when you’re making all those big, life-changing decisions: Where should I go to college? What should I major in? What kind of career do I want? Which job should I take? Should I move to another state? Whom should I marry? When should we start having children? How many children should we have?
Maybe you’ve asked the same question yourself. Life as a young adult can be pretty overwhelming, especially when you’re still kind of immature and inexperienced, and you have to make so many big decisions that have such intense and long-lasting impact on your own life and the lives of others. As you age, there are still big decisions to face from time to time, and they can still feel overwhelming.
So, how can a godly woman who wants to make sure she’s making a godly decision be certain she’s following “God’s will for her life”?
Reframe the Question
When we use the term “God’s will for my life” we’re usually thinking in terms of a life map. A career track. A family plan. It’s almost as if we think of God as pulling up the spreadsheet that has our name on it and that every category of our lives is neatly planned out and squared away in a little box. The way we would organize it.
Marry: Joe Blow
Retirement age: 65
That’s our focus, but that’s not God’s focus. Does God care about and guide us through all of life’s circumstances? Of course, but God’s primary concern is our holiness and growth in Christ, not our choice of a career or whom to marry. Those life circumstances are merely tools in God’s hands to shape us into more Christlike people. We look at the life circumstances first and think it’s God’s highest priority that we choose what matches up with His spreadsheet. God’s highest priority is that we pursue Him and holy living, and leave the details up to Him. The question really shouldn’t be, “What is God’s road map for my career, family, etc., from this point forward?” but “In the process of pursuing Christ, how can I make godly decisions that line up with Scripture?”
It’s In the Book
When we want to know anything about God, the Bible is always our go to source of information. What does the Bible say about God’s will for our lives?
God’s will for your life is to trust and obey Him in suffering.
Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls
to a faithful Creator while doing good. 1 Peter 4:19
God’s will for your life is whatever is good, acceptable, and perfect.
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 12:2
God’s will for your life is joyful obedience to Him.
not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, Ephesians 6:6-7
God’s will for your life is to pursue purity and forsake impurity.
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality…For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 1 Thessalonians 4:3,7
God’s will for your life is to live in gratitude to Him.
give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
God’s will for your life is to be a living testimony to Him.
For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence
the ignorance of foolish people. 1 Peter 2:15
God’s will for your life is to live for His desires, not your own.
Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. 1 Peter 4:1-2
God’s will for your life is to be wise, not foolish.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:15-17
And there’s so much more. Any Scripture that instructs you on how to live your life is God’s will for your life.
Live in the Word
An athlete preparing for the Olympics doesn’t just go about life as usual and panic the day before his event because he doesn’t know the right techniques and strategies for his event. He trains and studies every day so that when it’s time for his event, he’s as ready as he can be.
The Christian life is a little bit like that. While the athlete knows exactly what his event will be and exactly which day he’ll have to perform, we don’t always know what kinds of life decisions we’ll be faced with or when they’ll materialize. But daily study of God’s Word is the best way to prepare our hearts, train our minds, and strengthen our character so we’re as ready as we can be for whatever circumstances God sends our way.
A strong daily prayer life also helps prepare our hearts and minds to make difficult decisions. We should absolutely pray about the particulars of specific situations that challenge us, but just the general practice of communing with God in prayer day by day teaches us to depend on Him, trust Him, be conformed to His will, love Him, honor Him, and submit to Him. And that’s a great foundation for making godly decisions.
Flee from Sin
Sometimes the formidable decisions we face are a result of our own sin. So just stay away from sin. Not only is that God’s will for your life because it honors and glorifies Him, but, as a bonus, you can totally avoid having to make the difficult decisions that are part and parcel of the consequences of sin.
Get Invested in Church
In addition to the fact that it’s God’s will for your life to be a faithful, active member of a local, biblically led and structured body of believers, investing yourself – your time, your love, your priority, your money, your service – in the life of the church means that when you face challenging decisions you already have a godly support network in place. Brothers and sisters in Christ will be at the ready to pray for you, provide practical help and advice, comfort you, point you to God’s Word, walk through it with you, check on you, rejoice or grieve with you, and so on.
“Get wisdom,” Proverbs 4 admonishes. God isn’t going to just bop you on the head with a magic wand, and “Presto!” you’ve got the wisdom to make godly choices. It doesn’t work that way (believe me, I’ve tried). You have to proactively pursue it. How do you get wisdom?
Study God’s Word Copious amounts of it, every day, starting with the wisdom literature. Listen to good, doctrinally sound sermons from your own pastor and others. Get plugged in to a good Sunday School, Bible study, or discipleship class. Read doctrinally sound books. Discuss Scripture with others. Find out which biblical principles apply to the decision you’re faced with and pore over them.
Pray Ask God to grow you in wisdom. Ask Him to help you correctly apply Scripture to your situation and lead you to the wisest, most godly decision. Ask others to pray these things for you as well.
Seek out wise brothers and sisters for counsel. Reach out to mature Christians who can offer godly advice and help you apply God’s word to the decision making process. Set up an appointment with your pastor (or an ACBC certified Biblical Counselor) for counseling. Seek the expert advice of brothers and sisters who are professionals in the field (legal, medical, educational, etc.) of your dilemma.
Get informed. Usually, in order to make a wise and godly decision about something, you have to know the “facts of the case” first. For example, if you’re trying to make a wise decision about whether or not to take a certain job, first find out as much as you possibly can about the job, the company, the work environment, the pay, and so on. You can’t rightly apply Scripture (or pray, or seek counsel) if you don’t know what you’re applying Scripture to.
You’ve studied Scripture about it. You’ve prayed about it and have others praying for you about it. You’ve sought wisdom about it. You’ve done everything you can do on your part to pursue godliness and make a biblical decision, and all that’s left is to make the actual decision.
So make it and quit fretting over whether or not it’s “God’s will.”
Yes, it’s really that simple.
Why? Because if you’ve done all that prayer and study and seeking wisdom, guess what? You’ve already done God’s will for your life: You’ve pursued Him. You’ve pursued holiness. So go ahead and make the choice that seems the wisest and most godly. Stuck between two options that appear to be equally godly? Choose the one you like better. Sometimes God uses those unique tastes, preferences, and “bents” He has fearfully and wonderfully knit into us to guide us one way or another.
Go ahead and make the decision and stop worrying (because we know worrying isn’t God’s will for your life). Trust in God’s sovereign power to control the situation, His care for you to guide you and carry you through, His love for you, and His desire to do what’s best for you.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
It is precious in God’s sight when we want to please and obey Him, but He doesn’t want us to become overwrought along the way with anxiety over decisions. When God tells us we can trust Him to guide us and direct our paths, He really means that. Strive to live godly in Christ Jesus and trust God to handle the rest.