God’s will (or 'calling') for our lives is not meant to be complicated or confusing. Don’t feel like some people who think, “God loves me and has a wonderful plan for my life, but He’s not telling me!”
God’s will is not some secret or hidden formula you need to discover. We like things quick and easy and get frustrated when it doesn’t happen that way.
Sometimes our frustration is based on the belief that God has a detailed plan of our life that He has hidden and we need to discover. We think we must try to find the next step He wants us to take every moment of the day so as to not displease Him. Is His will a circle in which we need to find the “dot” in the middle in order to be in the very 'centre of His will'? Does God have a perfect plan for every one of our decisions, which we need to discover? Big decisions (like who to marry, which school to go to, what career to choose, or which house to buy) and little decisions (what to wear, where to have lunch, or where to sit)?
Let’s look at Adam and Eve. God gave them one commandment – a moral absolute: “Don’t eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” He them gave them the freedom to eat of any of the other trees in the garden. One “No” and dozens of “Yes’s”. God defines clear boundaries, then gives us the freedom to live within them. Adam and Eve were also free to daily decide their work and activity focused on the overall objectives given to them by God (“take care of the garden and take dominion over the earth”).
Gen 2:15-17. The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." NIV
The Bible indicates that God has a general purpose and plan for our lives, which he communicates to us. This includes loving God, loving people, and investing our time, talents and resources in God's work here on earth. He also communicates any limitations or areas that are restricted to us. Within these parameters, we are free to choose what we want to do.
We need to know that there is more freedom in God’s will than we realise. More often than not, there are many options we could choose from, all of which are in God’s will. God’s will is more of a relationship than a set of rules or guidelines. He gives us a compass rather than a detailed road map. It is 'dynamic' and ever changing rather than a 'closed system'. He allows for mistakes. We need to focus on God not just on guidance.
Without this understanding, multiple options produce a lot of fear and frustration at 'missing the dot' rather than gratitude for more than one opportunity. It also results in costly delays because of uncertainty about God’s specific will. We can end up paralysed with fear at missing God's will or calling for our life.
What is your ‘worldview’ when it comes to ‘providence’ and God’s ‘sovereignty’? Do you see everything as ‘set’ (determinism) or is nothing ‘set’? Are we playing in a 'classical orchestra' (where everything is predetermined – we have no choice), a wild 'jam session' (a free-for-all where nothing is planned – we’re totally in control) or a 'jazz orchestra' (where there is an overall plan but with lots of improvisation within it)? Personally, I believe that the latter is a more Biblical concept – there is interaction and interplay between heaven and earth. God has a purpose and plan but within this we have the responsibility and freedom to make choices that have consequences.
As parents, we have general desires for our children and we direct them in ways that are right. But we don’t have a detailed plan for every aspect of their life. That would breed immaturity rather than maturity.
Consider these choices:
- What to eat for lunch today.
- Where to live.
- Which house to buy.
- Which job to take.
- Which career to take.
- Which person to marry.
Except for the clear prohibitions of Scripture, you are free to choose based on the desires of your heart and the wisdom available to you. If God has something specific in mind, then He will guide you toward it clearly. After all, he wants us to know and do his will even more than we do!
The right question may be, “How do I make wise decisions?” rather than “How do I find the will of God?” Thankfully, God has given us principles of guidance and for making wise decisions.
[For more on this subject, see the book, Decision Making and the Will of God by Gary Friesen]