Ever found yourself wrestling with what God might want from you or for you? What is God’s will for your life? Well this week in my church’s young adults group we grappled with this topic. This is some of what we talked about…and then a bonus video that we didn’t have time to look at.
Usually when someone is wrestling what God’s “will” might be, they are trying to make a decision. They want to get a sense of what God might have in store for them and maybe find clarity of purpose or direction. In this sense we can understand God’s will as being two-fold. There is God’s “universal will” and God’s “specific/individual will”.
When I refer to God’s “universal will”, I am referring to what God desires for all people, everywhere, regardless of personality type, culture, geographic location and other variables. It is through scripture that we realize that God’s will for all people is to be in relationship with him through Christ (1 Timothy 2:3-4), that he wants us to yield to Christ and be transformed (Romans 12:-12), to be under the influence of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:5-17), and to invite others to follow Jesus as well (Matthew 28:19-20).
Of course there are other aspects of this will of God for us such as putting God and his priorities above our own, loving others, doing good to our enemies, hanging out with other believers, representing Jesus to our neighbours, and seeking justice and mercy. These are just a few other aspects of what God would desire for all people. In fact, one of the most basic tests of whether what we are doing/considering/pondering/desiring would be acceptable to God for us, or his will for us, would be to check with scripture. In this way we are to ensure that we are in line with God’s desires for us. The reality is that it is possible to honor God, to be acting in his will, doing any number of things
However, there are times when God seems to want to fine tune his desires for us to something more pointed. These will always been in line with God has revealed in his universal will but are specific to an individual in a unique circumstance. So how might we discover what God might have in store for us? I would suggest that the following are four parts of the conversation that God has with us as he reveals himself and his desires.
- God will reveal himself and his desires to us as we are in the habit of reading scripture. It is here that we learn God’s heart and he shapes ours. It is here that we have our priorities reshaped and our dreams recast in light of who God is and what he asks of his children. It is here that his Spirit moves within us.
- God reveals himself and his desires to us as we are in the habit of spending time in prayer. As we spend time in prayer, we allow room for God to speak to our hearts. As we give him our burdens we realize his ability to carry us and things find new perspective. As we sit and listen the Holy Spirit transforms us and whispers movements and visions.
- God reveals himself and his desires as we include the godly counsel of those whom we trust. These are the people who see things differently than we do. With wisdom, perspective and experience they can ask questions, reflect our thoughts back to us so we can see them for what they are, and pray on our behalf.
- God reveals himself and his desires through the circumstances of life. God uses the circumstances of our lives to shape us into the people he would have us be. He has given us passions, abilities and places in locations and situations that can guide us to find our place. These may not always be fun or what we might wish for in our “ideal” setting. But all circumstances can be used for God’s good.
Lastly, in my own search to understand how God speaks to me, I have found the following guidelines helpful.
- Leadings from God are consistent with the Bible.
- Leadings from God are usually consistent with the person he has made you to be.
- Leadings from God usually involve servant-hood (in contrast with fame and fortune).
- If a leading requires you to make a major, life-changing decision in a very short period of time, question it.
- If a leading requires you to go deeply in debt or place someone else in a position of awkwardness, compromise or danger, question it.
- If a leading requires you to shatter family relationships or important friendships, question it.
- If a leading creates unrest in the spirit of a mature Christian friend or counsellor as your share it with them, question it.
My experience tells me that discernment does not happen as quickly as I might like, but that the timing is always bang on. May your experience be similar as God shapes you and leads you into the person that he desires you to be.