How can I know and understand the will of God for my life? This question may be as old as the history of man but it is not impossible to answer. In fact, the answer may be simpler than you think.
Use Your Head
Too many people want to know what God’s will is for their life but bypass the primary means God has given for us to determine and discern it – our mind. You cannot expect to know what God’s will is for your life if you are not willing to think about it. More specifically, to use your mind in considering what He has already told you. Chances are good that many simply do not trust their own minds, and for good reason. Christians though, should have no problems trusting their minds.
When a person “becomes a Christian” they are transformed, renewed, and redeemed. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. (2 Corinthians 5:17). This renewal and rebirth includes the mind…especially the mind. Now, there is training involved in getting your mind accustomed to “spiritual thinking” but that is part of the transformation process. God fully intends for you to use your renewed mind.
Get Under the Umbrella
Most of us want to know the will of God specifically for our individual lives. What does He want me to do with my life? Who should I marry? Where should I live or go to school? The problem is that we’ve spent much of our time ignoring and neglecting God’s “universal will” to the point of failing to see any connection between the two. We miss that God’s “specific will” is revealed through the process of living out His universal will. We tend to think of the will of God as a program to follow rather than a process to live out. When viewed correctly, who we are takes priority over what we do.
The umbrella of God’s universal will necessarily includes His specific will. Why are we surprised when we can’t seem to discern God’s specific will when we have shown little interest in following His universal will? Scripture clearly reveals God’s universal will. Unless and until we are consistent in living that out, we will struggle to decipher specifics. That said, once we do develop consistent living under His universal will, His specific will becomes much easier to identify.
Freedom Under the Umbrella of the Will of God
You might think that living under an umbrella would be greatly restrictive. But you would be wrong, the umbrella is not stationary. You are not restricted to living only in the space under a stationary umbrella. The umbrella is not a gigantic “group sized” umbrella that is too big to carry. On the contrary, it is individual and goes where you go. God’s universal will applies to you as His child. Yes, He has other children to whom His will applies, but they also have their own umbrella. Each person carries – and is therefore responsible for – their own umbrella. The umbrella serves as protection as you carry it through your life. In doing so, you have great freedom. (I think I’m going a bit overboard with the metaphor…but you’re beginning to see the point.)
It’s a popular myth that God is a “cosmic killjoy” just waiting for people to screw up so He can zap them! God wants us to enjoy life abundantly. He knows what prevents and creates joy. Since it is His will that we live an abundant life (John 10:10), He shares with us how to have a full life and not a frivolous one. Although there are boundaries under the umbrella – that’s where you have to stay to keep dry – we still have tremendous flexibility in where we can go. We can remain under the umbrella of His will and still choose from a myriad of alternatives. Determining God’s specific will for your life starts by answering the question: Does this decision agree with or violate God’s revealed universal will?