Life’s crises can leave us puzzled about God’s leading. Esther Bailey offers some helpful suggestions for knowing His direction for you.
All of us from time to time wonder what God would have us do. Moses had it easy, that is, in discovering God’s will. When God came calling, the stuttering fugitive could hardly miss the booming voice coming from a burning bush. Leading the Israelites out of Egypt was another matter.
God also had a similarly unique way for directing the apostle Paul. A blinding flash of light knocked him to the ground. But at least Saul of Tarsus (Paul’s name at the time) got the message. There, on the road to Damascus, blind and cowering on the ground, Jesus told him to “get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do” (Acts 9:6, emphasis added). In the city, a visitor named Ananias said that God had instructed him to tell Paul that he was His “chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel” (verse 15). Simply put, God wanted Paul to make a 180-degree turn and join the Christians he had been persecuting!
Then there’s you. A lack of such drama in your life seems to indicate that God is leaving you to figure it out on your own. But you’re not entirely on your own. You see, you have the Holy Spirit and the Bible.
First Things First
God wants you to receive His wonderful gift of salvation. “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Before the world even began, God had the plan of salvation in mind, which included you.
On earth, Jesus endured agony and separation from His Father on the cross, and bore the weight of the sins of all humanity just so that He could offer you the free gift of forgiveness. Accepting Jesus as your personal Saviour sets you up to enjoy a lifelong relationship with God.
The Spirit of Christ that lives within you will speak to you when you need direction. It could simply be to do one of the following:
- Writing a cheerful note to a friend who is having a rough time.
- Apologising for speaking sharply to a co-worker.
- Separating yourself at work from the crowd that uses profane and obscene language.
You can discover much of God’s will through your conscience.
Hearing From God
For your conscience to be reliable, it needs to be properly programmed, just like your computer. Anything found in the Bible comes with God’s guarantee of authenticity. The nonnegotiable truth from Scripture applies to everyone. The terms of God’s general will are the same for you as they are for everyone else.
If you’re serious about wanting to know God’s will, faithfully explore God’s Word. In addition to your daily time of reading the Bible, memorise verses and passages to hold in your heart. If you’re having a down day, an uplifting verse may pop into your mind. Another may help you resist temptation. Think of Scripture stored in your memory as your spiritual bank account.
What about specific instructions? Suppose you want to know if it’s God’s will for you to move overseas and take a job you’ve been offered. Unfortunately, the Bible doesn’t have a section that gives this kind of instruction to specific individuals.
In matters not dictated by the Bible, you should follow biblical principles. God may not care whether you live in Auckland or in Sydney, but He will want you to examine what draws you to each place.
Are you moving because there’s an attractive woman in your company’s Auckland office with whom you’ve developed a relationship? Don’t go there! Would you prefer the move to Sydney so you can avoid an unpaid debt? Don’t even think about it!
On the other hand, it’s OK to seriously consider a move that will locate you closer to ageing parents or provide an educational opportunity that is unavailable where you now live. Paul counselled that “whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). When you have the luxury of choice, think of where you can make the best contribution to the kingdom of God. If you put the answer to that question above money or personal gain, you will likely discover God’s will.
Much of your life is built around your work. Whether you’re seeking your first job or thinking about changing career, a voice from a burning bush would be welcome, but don’t expect it. While there’s no blinding light involved in your career choice, it isn’t that God doesn’t care. It’s that He gives you the freedom to choose. As long as you’re loyal to Him, He’s happy with you as an accountant or working on an assembly line in a factory.
The psalmist wrote, “You [God] created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13). God gave you your talents and the passion to use them. His will is that you make the best use of these interests and abilities. What matters isn’t what job you do. What matters is that you choose a career that will allow you to bring the most glory to Him.
If your heart is pulling you in a certain direction (and this isn’t limited to work), there are other things you can do:
- Keep the matter in constant prayer.
- Seek counsel from your pastor or a mentor—someone you can trust to give you good and sound advice.
- Look for opening (and closing) doors that might confirm God’s leading, such as the sale of the home you now live in. “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’ ” (Isaiah 30:21).
A Major Key
While waiting for life’s mysteries to unfold, you can also practise a specific aspect of God’s will and increase your happiness at the same time. It’s called thanksgiving. Paul said, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). A thankful heart crowds out misery.
Let’s say you lost your job. You probably won’t feel thrilled about it, but you still have reasons to be thankful. You can find ways to get along with less. Between job interviews, you’ll have more time to spend with your children and strengthen your bond with them. Also, the loss of your job may provide a way for you to learn a new skill that will open up a new career opportunity. In every situation, you can find ways to be thankful. Paul said that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
You need not be frustrated by a lack of drama in discovering God’s will for your life. Put into practice everything you learn from the Bible. You can’t expect to receive new direction from God until you are doing what you already know you should do.
Pray about all your options and be open to new ideas.
Seek counsel when evaluating opportunities that come your way. Keep in mind how you can best serve God when making major decisions. Do all of this with a thankful heart and you can rest peacefully, knowing that you are living within God’s will.