Hi, I have a question for you based on what I read from another post. It said, “If the voice is God’s all three will agree: 1. The Word of the LORD in the Bible. 2. The Word of the Spirit in our hearts. 3. The circumstances of our lives, which have been arranged by God. All three must point one way; it is never enough for any two of them to be taken as showing God’s will.” Do you agree or disagree with that statement (scripture references)?
Hey J.S.! How do you know if what you’re doing is part of God’s plan? How am I supposed to know I’m doing the right thing? I just applied for an internship for my favorite company and I’m anxious. Will I get it? Do I simply wait and trust God? Does He approve of it? If not, then how do I know I’m even in the right direction? I can’t tell/feel the difference between making my own decisions and making the ones based on God’s will. Help?
I would say it’s pretty good to have a checklist and it’s certainly not less than those things — but finding God’s Will can be pretty dang tough.
The further I move along in my faith, the more I find that faith is a sticky, grey, messy, murky journey. While God’s commands are obvious (that’s His moral will), His plan is tougher to discern (that’s His sovereign will).
What if there needs to be a snap decision and we can’t survey the entire Bible on the spot? How do we know it’s the Holy Spirit and not our own voice? How do we interpret “signs” and circumstances? What if we come between two impossible decisions? What if both are equally good, or equally bad?
While we could ponder forever on these things, let’s consider some thoughts on His Will. Please feel free to skip around.
1) God’s Will is not necessarily about predicting the future, but about the person you’re becoming.
You’ve probably read Psalm 37:4 before, which says
Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Preachers often misinterpret this to say, “If I enjoy God, He’ll give me what I want!” But actually it means IF you’re delighting yourself in God, He will implant in you His own desires. Try reading it one more time.
When you are pursuing God, your heart will begin to default to Him. To make it simpler: if you follow God’s moral will (His Law) you can be sure you’re following God’s sovereign will (His Plan). If you are becoming the True Self that God has called you to be, then out of who you’re becoming will emerge the doing.
You build a momentum as you follow Jesus, however imperfectly. So if you have an important decision coming up, try to see what is most consistent with your momentum in Him.
This is actually easier than you think. Pick the internship that will be an opportunity to grow and fulfill His mission. Pick the campus where God can best work through you. If you have two equally good choices, pick the one you like! If you have no good choices, wait. Simply ask God, Why this place? Why me, here? Is this truly me? God has an answer.
2) God’s Will is not always comfortable.
I hear Christians in a circle say, “I felt peace about that.” But I’ve never understood what this means. A peace where the stars aligned? A peace in my storm? A peace that feels warm and fuzzy inside?
I actually heard of a pastor who kicked out his wife and shacked up with his secretary, all while saying, “I felt peace about that.” I mean dude, sometimes God’s Will is common sense.
First Peter 4:12 reads,
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.
We should expect that following Jesus means we lose some friends and to be ridiculed and rejected. I don’t mean to go after a “poverty gospel” — but if you love Jesus, it won’t be rainbows and puppies.
Following God’s Will isn’t always a romantic brochure. Serving the homeless and being a missionary in Africa are awesome, but not always pretty. So the real peace is knowing you’re the real thing, that you’re giving your all to Christ, that you’re giving your life away despite what’s happening around you.
3) Look for good mentors who will guide you.
In addition to Scripture and the leading of the Holy Spirit, seek godly Christ-centered people who are already chasing after God and ask for their wisdom. It doesn’t have to be, “Hey you, mentor me.” Just ask questions. Tons of wonderful, annoying, curious questions.
Good mentors will cast big visions for you, always saying, You can do this. God will do big things in you. And if you mess it up, they will be there to say, You’re better than this, so let’s get up and go again.
4) The Holy Spirit doesn’t always “speak,” but He confirms in hindsight.
A lot of us expect God reveals His plan in neon lights the second we pray. But God knows we are time-bound creatures who learn by experience, so God’s Will is often confirmed in hindsight.
Usually the Spirit guides as we are already moving. Galatians 5:25 says “let us keep in step with the Spirit” — and doesn’t say that God will make a yellow brick road.
So if you get started on a path and you discover you’re not wired for it, it’s okay to move onto something else. It’s okay to try a few things until you find the right thing. Sometimes finding God’s Will also means finding what is NOT God’s Will. This doesn’t mean you can just experiment everywhere, which is why Scripture and mentors are important.
The Spirit is most likely NOT going to be an audible voice and won’t be writing on a wall by a glowing hand. Usually you know it’s Him during or after the moment is over.
Notice in Acts 18 that the Ephesians ask Paul to stay, and he replies, “I will come back if it is God’s will.” He sails to other places to preach, but eventually comes back to Ephesus and stays for three years. The way I see it, Paul felt funny about leaving the Ephesians so he came back. That funny feeling was most likely the Spirit’s prompting.
This happened to Paul quite a lot — and it will to you, too. Was Paul 100% sure? Maybe. But he was 100% sure he was called to share Jesus, and 100% sure in hindsight that the city of Ephesus had a great need.
I’ve known friends who went to medical school and hated it, so they quit. They had so much guilt about quitting. A lot of the guilt was from parents and self-doubt, which I understand — but they had to learn it was okay to quit med school after they went to med school. They are happier now doing what God has actually wired them to do.
I hope I haven’t exploded your head by now. Simply remember that just as your parents or mentors or counselors have given you an inner-voice of wisdom, then as you saturate yourself in the Word and fully press into the Gospel, the Spirit will be your biggest voice. And unlike anyone else, the Spirit is perfectly good, perfectly righteous, and perfectly rooting for you.