Around my senior year in high school and through my early 20s, I had a particular fear. This fear would wake me up in the middle of the night, weigh heavy on me as I walked to class, loom ominously as chose my schedule for each semester. It was there with every “yes” and every “no”…regardless of how big or small the decision. With every passing year, this said fear would have a paralyzing effect on my ability to make confident choices and it often hindered my ability to move forward.
This fear came in the form of a question…a BIG question:
“What if I miss God’s ‘will’ for my life?”
I was reminded of this question (or mindset, rather) a couple of days ago when a Facebook acquaintance messaged me. She was at a crossroads with her career aspirations and she was unsure how to use her gifts and talents. Her message said something to the affect of, “I’ve been following your career. How did you find God’s Will for your life? How do I do the same?”
I must admit…I spent an embarrassing amount of time blinking at the computer in shock. Then, I just had to laugh. Just a week or two earlier, I had been sobbing on my living room couch, pouring out PLENTY of hypothetical life and career questions for my husband–who admittedly had more comfort and encouragement, than solid answers. It seemed a bit absurd, knowing myself the way I do, that this young lady would a) think I had it all together concerning ‘God’s Will’…that I had somehow deciphered a complicated code and solved a cosmic riddle….and b) think I would be able to articulate something that could actually help her in the specifics of her situation.
I felt so unqualified.
But then, I started to reflect upon the last several years of my life and how God has so faithfully directed it.
It seemed that the doors that needed to close…they closed. The doors that need to open…opened. I remembered how, even though I never had the complete blue print for my life plan or a copy of “God’s Will for Dummies,” He always directed me clearly when I was at a crucial point. I reflected upon how he hedged me in at every point with godly counsel, corrective scripture, and faithful friends when I was tempted to make a wrong choice. Those times I made a disobedient choice, the consequences were hard, but he was there to redirect me and redeem that choice when I was repentant and ran home to Him.
It dawned on me that over the years of following God, He had given me total freedom from this fear—simply because, due to His faithfulness, He helped me see: I was asking the wrong question.
I think the question of “What if I miss God’s Will for my life” is initially birthed from good intentions. We want to serve God, we want our life to count, we want to follow Him, and most of all, we don’t want to mess it up. But, it can be problematic for a few reasons:
1) It keeps us from living in the present and being obedient now.
I know that when I was on the 24/7 search of God’s “allusive” will, I had a hard time enjoying the moments he was blessing me with in the present. It’s hard to invest in the present, because you feel you must always be reaching, hunting, and forcing things in order for your future to work out ‘just right.’ It makes EVERY decision scary, like I mentioned above. You may discount the “little” ways God is using you in the here and now.
Or, maybe you’ve leaned in the other direction. You can’t live in the present and serve God because, you’ve already “messed” it up or “missed” it. We can be so overwhelmed by our failures in the past that we think we are disposable to God and he no longer has a “plan” for us.
I look back and see that each season was a building block to where I am now–all the good and all the bad—little and small. Honestly, I’ve missed some special times in life—reaching and waiting for “more.” And, I’ve failed to move forward with confidence at times, because I was discouraged by failures.
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin…” Zach 4:10
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matt. 6:34
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28
Maybe, in order to live more the present, we should ask—IN WHAT WAYS CAN I BE MORE OBEDIENT TO YOU…TODAY? How can you make a difference for God, right now, where you are?
2) We are looking for a bush, instead of to the Bible.
I think we spend too much time looking for burning bushes, watching for lightning from the sky, and listening for an audible voice…when we have everything we need to know “God’s Will” on our bookshelves—THE BIBLE.
It tells us how to treat our spouses, respect our bosses, love our enemies, raise our children, handle our money—and everything else we need to know about life—MOST IMPORTANTLY—How to follow, reflect, lean on, and please God on a daily basis.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” 2 Tim. 3:16
“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5
“ Don’t stop reading this book of the Law, but day and night think of what it says, so you can be careful to do everything written in it; then you will prosper and succeed.” Joshua 1:8
Burning bushes and amazing revelations aren’t bad or impossible, but if you won’t crack open your Bible because isn’t “spectacular” or “sensational” enough for you…then I doubt you’ll be equipped enough to handle a “burning bush” moment (and the grueling assignments that are sure to follow.)
Maybe we should ask the question, “GOD, WHAT IS YOUR WORD REVEALING TO ME TODAY AS YOUR ‘WILL’?”
3) We focus more on what we can DO for God, than who we can BECOME because of God.
We all want to do something “special” with our life. I honestly used to think that if I would walk a straight and narrow path for so many years and not make any wrong choices or turns, then BOOM—out of the blue, like lightening, God would drop this one specific, gigantic, important assignment in my lap.
But, you see, that’s not the point at all.
GOD’S MAIN WILL FOR YOUR LIFE—IS TO KNOW WHO HE IS AND TO HAVE A LOVE RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM.
I promise you, it’s that simple.
Everything else that needs to “happen,” will be an OVERFLOW. When you love God and receive his love for you, you want to read His Word and spend time talking to Him in prayer. When you love God and receive His love, you love the people around you and have a burning desire to serve. You don’t worry about the future, because you are walking with the creator of the Universe. When you love Him and know Him, you will know when He speaks to say “GO” or “STAY.”
“Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left.” Isaiah 30:21
When you know and love God, your grace-given gifts will be employed for His glory so naturally. You’ll get a plethora of important assignments throughout life—not just one! You can be a shining light in your school, a dedicated wife or husband, a parent who raises up Godly offspring, a talented professional, a missionary, a worshipper, a local Bible teacher, an encouraging friend, and much, much more. When you focus on what you should become BECAUSE OF GOD and His love in your life…the possibilities are endless and they last over a lifetime.
When you love God, and receive His love, your life will bring Him glory!
“He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace which he lavished upon us. For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
In him, according to the purpose of Him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will, we who first hoped in Christ have been destined and appointed to live for the praise of his glory. “ Eph. 1:5-12
As a final word of encouragement, I’ll leave you with this thought:
God’s will for your life is *not* a destination to be achieved or a mystery to figure out—but a daily love interaction with him that involves obedience, trust, and staying in the present. It may be hard to comprehend in our human ability, but GOD WANTS YOU TO LIVE IN HIS WILL MORE THAN YOU DO! How wonderful—I believe with God in our heart, on our side, and working it through us….
WE NEVER HAVE TO LIVE WITH A “MISSING IT” MINDSET AGAIN!
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Phil 1:6