Decoding God’s Will for Your Life

I wish knowing God’s will for my life was as easy as it seems to be for some people. I hear testimonies, “God spoke to me and said, “Go to lower Afghanistan,” or “Go take two apple pies to your neighbor,” or “I’ve called you to great things.”

For big life changes it seems He has to whisper, nudge, pinch and encourage and/or shout for quite a while, before I get enough clarity (and courage) to jump.

It was that way when I struggled with God’s direction for my life. When I left home, headed for college, all I knew was that I wanted a degree so I could make some MONEY! I didn’t want to be filthy rich. Just averagely rich would have been sufficient.

Then I found some friends who valued God’s will above theirs. I was attracted by the depth of their relationship with the Lord. I wanted that.

I had finally settled on a life as a journalist as a life goal, but God kept poking at me. When I looked forward, I kept seeing myself serving God as a minister of the Gospel. I wasn’t against it, but I didn’t think I had the spiritual “chops” for such a life.

I talked about it with my friend Marvin and said, “I think the worst thing you can do is to go preach when God isn’t calling you.”

“There is one thing just as bad,” he remarked. “It’s to be called and not go.”

“Thanks Marv. You’re a big help.” (note: Marvin claims to be the one who called me to preach but he’s just kidding himself).

The Lord wouldn’t let me alone though. I told my wife that I had to do something, so I went to talk to pastor Northcutt. He basically told me that he’d been expecting this and scheduled me to preach the following Sunday evening.

All Kinds of Voices

The morning after I talked to the pastor, I was working at my Summer job. A voice divebombed me like a persistent horsefly, “You’re not called. What are you doing? Besides, you’ve got those college loans you must pay back. Pastors don’t make much money. You’re going to starve to death.”

That’s when I recognized who was speaking.

If the voice had continued singing my inadequacies, ok. But starve to death? That voice wasn’t God. The Lord never threatened to let me starve to death.

So, we jumped.

My first year of ministry that voice often sneered, “You’re not really called!” After that things changed. I’ll admit there were times when I was discouraged and wanted to quit but now, I knew God had created me for this. I didn’t want to fail Him, though there were times when I REALLY wanted to quit.

I knew what pleased God and I wanted to do that.

“Ah, David,” you say, “All that is good but I’m not called to be a preacher or anything like that (thank goodness).” Listen up!

“Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” (Philippians 2:12, 13 NLT)

Three Elements of God’s Will

“…what pleases Him,” is His will for our lives. There are at least three elements involved in doing His will.

–Knowing Gods will, what pleases Him for us to do. I got my mouth squeezed, checked, explored and I don’t know what all this morning by a lady dentist that loves the Lord wholly. If it pleases God, drive that truck, bang on that computer keyboard, sell those clothes or whatever else God directs you to do. Go after God to know what pleases Him. Trade in your dream for His dream for you.

–Wanting to do God’s will. I haven ‘t always wanted to do God’s will. Sometimes what He was telling me scared me—other times it challenged and excited me. Sometimes it bothered me because I had other plans. If that’s you, don’t feel bad. In the most horrible trial of His earthly life Jesus saw the cross, God’s will for Him, before Him and prayed an agonizing prayer:

““My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Matthew 26:39 NLT

Don’t worry if you don’t want to do what He’s telling you. Moses didn’t. Jonah didn’t. Your feelings will come around. Probably. And if not remember one thing: He’s the boss, we’re the servants.

–Doing God’s will. “giving you … the power to do what pleases him.” If God calls you, He equips you. He’ll give you a smile for those grouchy Sunday morning visitors, superpowers to overcome that four-year old in Sunday School, patience to listen to and help that aged neighbor, perseverance to pray until you know you’ve touched heaven. And a thousand other things He calls us to do.

Don’t worry if you don’t have what it takes. God’s job is to equip you. Just do what He’s says.

Hmmm …

“God is too good to be unkind. He is too wise to be confused. If I cannot trace His hand, I can always trust His heart.” C. H. Spurgeon

image: Alessandro Augusto Lucia flickr creative commons