“What is God’s will for my life?”
I’ve certainly asked that question my share of times, and I’m not alone. Maybe you’ve looked up into the sky waiting for a message. Or maybe you’ve tried to discern the answer to a specific question based on the songs on a playlist. Or perhaps you’ve dropped the Bible open to a random page and asked God to speak about who you should marry, what job you should take, or what city you should live in.
We have asked. And we should ask. We should, as Christians, care deeply about God’s will for our lives. Further, this question shouldn’t be informational in nature; when we ask the question, it shouldn’t be like we are looking into a crystal ball. Rather, we should be asking with positive intentions. That is, we have already made up our minds that our lives to not belong to us, but instead belong to Jesus, and so we have already resolved to follow Him in whatever and wherever He might lead.
Of course, that’s the greatest obstacle to living God’s will for our lives – the outright refusal to do so. And that refusal comes in much more ordinary ways than just shaking our fist at the heavens. It comes when we know God’s will for us is to avoid sexual immorality and we choose to engage anyway. It comes when we know God’s will for us is to commit ourselves and serve the local church but we rarely even attend. It comes when we know God’s will is for us to be generous but we instead spend selfishly. In all these ways we are refusing to walk in God’s will for our lives.
Beyond that, though, there are other obstacles to living in God’s will. Here are three that come to mind:
Sometimes sheer impatience might keep us from walking in God’s will for our lives. We might be convinced that God wants us to go there, or do that, or be this – and we want to do it all NOW. We can easily become like Moses who wanted to be a deliverer but chose to take matters into his own hands and killed an Egyptian. Or Saul who was named king of Israel but refused time and time again to wait on the timing of the Lord to rule in His way.
We can easily get in such a hurry that we forget that God plays the long game. And in so doing, God is not only positioning us for a certain task or career, but is actually helping us become the people He wants us to be in the meantime. The way of faith is often the way of patience as we trust that God will, in His time, not only reveal but also position us where He wants us to be.
Another obstacle we face in living God’s will is discontentment. We might be asking the question of God’s will, and yet find ourselves doing a job that seems unimportant. Or serving in an obscure ministry. Or watching others meet with worldly success when we deem them not worthy of it. We become discontent with God’s answer to the question we asked Him to begin with.
If we feel discontent as to where God has placed us it’s a good opportunity for us to ask the Holy Spirit to search our hearts and reveal to us if we are truly interested in building God’s kingdom or our own. And for us to actively search out whether we are truly bowing at the throne of Jesus or whether we are worshiping at the idol of recognition and accolades.
While we might not walk in God’s will because of our impatience or our discontent, we also might not walk in it because of our inactivity. We might sense some bigger calling on our lives and then simply sit down and wait for it to happen. We don’t work hard; we don’t learn; we don’t take hold of the opportunities right in front of us.
Sure, God’s will might be for you to buy a one way ticket overseas to share the gospel. But in the meantime, let’s be busy sharing the gospel with our neighbors. Or His will might be for us to be wealthy philanthropists who work for the common good of people through a non-profit but in the meantime we should practice everyday generosity. Or it might be to serve out front in a public ministry setting but in the meantime there are a group of 5-year-olds who need a Sunday school teacher.
Walking in God’s will is not a “someday” thing; it’s a right now thing. And God has revealed more than enough of His will for us to get busy walking in it even while we are still asking the question of His will for the future.