I was sitting in my office at The Bridge Community Church many years ago, and in walks a young man with a big question. He was old enough to have a “real job” but young enough to wear clothes that made him appear homeless! It was a question many Christians ask and that is, “What is God’s will for my life?” If you aren’t a Christian you may simply ask, “What should I do with my life?”
He obviously didn’t think I could answer the question for him, but he wanted to know how to determine what direction God would have him go. I was sympathetic to the question then, and all these years later I find myself asking the same question. The answer I get at my age is, “Just take your baby aspirin daily, get your prostate checked yearly, and reduce your salt intake.” I think that means I just need to keep breathing? However, in my younger years it haunted me! I wanted to fulfill my destiny!
A Christian may seek God’s will when considering a relationship, a job, or even when making a major purchase. And you may hear a Christian end their prayer with, “May your will be done.” I realize to some it may sound mystical, and thats because it is in a sense, but it’s hoping through faith that something much bigger than yourself is guiding you. And it’s also a way of saying, “God I want you involved in every aspect of my life.” I look at God’s will a little differently than most pastors.
I believe that God guides everyone regardless of their beliefs. We are all God’s children, and his love is no different for the atheist as it is for a Christian. And sometimes God leads even when we aren’t aware of Him. Let’s go back to the young man’s question about how to determine God’s will for one’s life, because it can be a slippery slope!
It was 2009 and I felt like God wanted me to move to Seattle. I was helping cohost Fitz in The Morning on 100.7 The Wolf from a home studio in Texas, but when I would go up to visit my heart and soul didn’t want to leave. I just felt this deep connection to the people. I love them!
Yes I know, I’m conservative and sound a little like Matthew McConaughey and a lot like Jed Clampett (ask your parents), but I loved the Pacific Northwest. There was one problem, I was married to a Texan! So I began praying that if God wanted me in Seattle…He would have to tell her. I was seeking God’s will and direction, but I’ve always believed that both husband and wife should be on the same page. God doesn’t call a marital couple in two different directions.
I came home one day, and looked at my wife and instantly knew that either I was in trouble or something had gone wrong! She looked at me and said, “I’m going to tell you something, and then I have to leave…I can’t talk about it!” No man wants to hear his wife say those words, but then she continues with tears in her eyes, “I think God wants us to move to Seattle” and then the flood gates opened! She had visited Seattle with me one time, and it rained 24 hours a day and looked a lot like Gotham City. This was a miracle right? An answer to prayer? God was at work?
I share that story because our time together as a family in the Seattle area was the worst time of our life. We were broke, we quit the ministry, we lost hope, and we lost our marriage. There was no doubt in our mind that we were following God’s will for our life! So, what do we do when we feel as though we are on the right road, and then suddenly we realize the bridge is out or its a dead end?
I’m going to say something that you may not want to hear, but here it goes…just because we think or even “know” something is God’s will or direction doesn’t make it true. When I hear any anyone start a sentence with any of the following I tend to get skeptical: God told me, the Spirit is leading me, I don’t feel like God wants, or I feel lead to.
I am not saying that God doesn’t speak to us or lead us in various ways, but I am saying there is a fine line between hearing from God and hearing what we or others want us to hear. For example, while attending seminary I realized that nearly every man felt lead to pastor in the hometown of where his wife’s momma lived! Many times it isn’t God leading…it’s hormones or the easier path. Sorry, I’m getting a little snarky, but you get my point.
So, maybe my now ex-wife didn’t feel called to go to Seattle. It could have been me manipulating or steering us that direction. My heart was in the right place, but despite how much I love the Pacific Northwest…I don’t believe God lead us. Based on what happened to our family…I just can’t say He was in it. However, He can use us anywhere we go, and when we screw it up…He often helps us clean it up. I’ve managed to find my way back to my faith, and my ex-wife is doing very well, is happy, and serving others. God is still good and at work even when things don’t go as planned.
So let’s attempt to answer the question, “How can I know when something is God’s will” or “How do I know God is speaking or leading?” I’m going to just give you my opinions and feel free to let your heart and/or pastor guide you:
- Look where God is already moving and jump in!
- Look for open doors and don’t try to push open the ones which are closed.
- God does not lead us to manipulate or lie.
- God does not lead us to hurt or abuse others.
- God does not lead us to stay with someone who is abusive, neglectful.
- God often leads us to do things that take us out of our comfort zone.
- God usually leads us to do things we are gifted to perform, but sometimes you may not know you have that gift!
- Often times the greatest desire of your heart is exactly what God is leading you toward.
- Sometimes you’ll be miserable doing what God has asked you to do, but you shouldn’t be miserable the entire time.
There is an incredible song called, “Into The Mystery” and I think it is perfect for this topic. God is a mystery! God’s will is a mystery! Following God is a mysterious adventure! And yes, the life of Jesus and the Bible are full of mysteries! And for me, I love it!
I realize it seems as though pastors, scholars, and many others have the answers, but they do not. There are more questions about God than answers, but He wouldn’t be God otherwise. If He could be easily described and understood then He would not be God. Following Him doesn’t make life easier (in my humble opinion), but there is something very special about it. It is in Him that I have found direction when I was lost, peace when I was in pain, and He has always stayed when everyone else finds it easy to leave. I encourage you to follow me into the mystery!
I love you,
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