How Can I Know God’s Will for My Life?

Time to tackle yet another question from camp. And this one just happens to be one of my all-time favorites. 

This student phrased the question as follows:

How do I know if God is “calling” me to do something? How do I know if it’s just what I want to do?

I can’t wait to get into this. For two reasons:

1. Because the question reveals a heart of obedience, someone who genuinely wants to please God with his or her life.

2. Because the answer to this question is so practical.

To rephrase the question, what this person is asking is this: 

How can I know God’s will for my life?

Do you know how many books and pamphlets have been written in an attempt to answer this very common question? Neither do I. I can’t count that high.

You’ll read everything from “God just tells me what He wants me to do,” to complicated formulas where means, motive, and opportunity must all be in their proper alignment before God’s will can be known.

roadsignwillThe more cynical among us might be tempted to conclude that God is playing some sort of hide-and-seek game with us, as if God’s will is buried treasure, the Bible is our map, and we must discover the clues or solve the riddles in order to unearth God’s will.

I, for one, do not for a second believe that God is a cosmic tease, someone who gets some perverse pleasure out of watching His children stumble around in the dark, searching for His will.

God would not encourage each of us…

…to know God’s will for you (Romans 12:2 NLT)…

…unless He wanted us to know it!

Oh, and by the way, while we’re talking about this, let’s once and for all time put away this faulty notion that God’s will for your life must be the opposite of everything you want out of life. Or worse, God’s will might just be the most horrible thing in the world that you can imagine. As if God’s will is something to be feared.

Just because someone hates heat, doesn’t particularly like to get soaking wet, and screams at the sight of spiders does not mean that God has called him or her to sweat in a mud hut in the middle of some deep, dark rain forest living on a nasty diet of beetle-grubs.

How do I know this? Because in that same blessed verse (Romans 12:2), God Himself describes His will for your life as…

…good and pleasing and perfect.

Hear this:

God’s will for your life is “good and pleasing and perfect.”

Now repeat after me: 

God’s will for my life is “good and pleasing and perfect.”

OK, so back to the question at hand, 

How do I know if God is “calling” me to do something? How do I know if it’s just what I want to do?

God answers that question in just sixteen words, Psalm 37:4 (NLT).

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Or to put it another way, If you make God the delight of your heart, His will for your life is to follow your heart.

Follow your heart. Yes, it is that simple.

What does it mean to delight yourself in the Lord, or to make Him the delight of your heart? It simply means to do those things that you know will please Him, and refrain from doing those things that you know will displease Him.

This is not complicated. I’ll give you a few examples, and you tell me if these things please or displease God.

Tell a lie. (Displeases God)

Tell the truth. (Pleases God)

Gossip about someone (Displeases God)

Speak favorably about others (Pleases God)

Do your best at school, at work, or in your home (Pleases God)

Cheat at school, at work, or in your home (Displeases God)

Fill your mind with pure pictures, lyrics, etc. (Pleases God)

Fill your mind with filth (Displeases God)

Harm someone (Displeases God)

Help someone (Pleases God)

This is NOT complicated.

So His promise is this… Make God the delight of your heart (by doing those things that you know please Him), and then follow your heart. 

Why does this work? Because as you make God the delight of your heart, His heart will become your heart, His heart’s desires will become your heart’s desires, His will will become your will.

It really will!

One last thought… This does not necessarily mean that when you follow your heart, God will reveal His entire plan for your entire life, all at once. Let me share with you one more equally precious verse, 

Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path (Psalm 119:105 NLT).

Not to get too technical here. But the lamp to which the verse refers is a handheld oil lamp, which were as common in biblical times as light bulbs are to us today.

But here’s the thing: An oil lamp gives off exactly the right amount of light to allow you and me to take one more step.

Did you get that? #OneMoreStep.

Take that step, and voilà! The lamp will give you exactly the right amount of light to take one more step. The next step.

Step-by-step is how this Christian walk is meant to be lived. Step-by-step, one step at a time.

So here it is: Make God your heart’s delight by doing those things that you know please Him. Follow your heart’s desire in order to follow God’s will. And take the first step to fulfilling your heart’s desire. Just one step. Take that step, and sooner rather than later God will give you just enough light to take the next step, and the step after that.

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Happy walking, my friends. And be sure to enjoy the journey!

(Any thoughts? Just click on the title, scroll down to the bottom, and leave a reply. I’d LOVE to read it.)

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2 thoughts on “How Can I Know God’s Will for My Life?

  1. I almost totally agree with this article, with one profound exception. Maybe it’s just a matter of the wording rather than intent behind the wording that concerns me. But I was trapped for many years in the thought that if I did enough good things to please God, He was obligated to then give me the desires of my heart, to me this meant the lifelong dream of motherhood. It wasn’t until I realized my own elevation of that dream to idolhood (anything standing in the number one worship place in my heart, before Christ), that I could begin to yield that intense longing to allow God to change my dreams to be in line with His will for my life. It was in this letting go of my original dreams that made room for the heart desires God wanted to create in me, to joyfully fulfill in my life. And then, in my case, once those original desires were relegated to less than first place in my heart, God fulfilled my dream of motherhood, thrice over as well! (Even if He hadn’t granted my original desire, it was no longer the burning desire it once had been.)

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