“God, what do you want me to do with my life?”
I’m sure you’ve asked this question a million times—well maybe a thousand. Either way, it’s certainly not an uncommon question to ask. When a person submits to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, they’re not just saved from something—their sin and its punishment—but they’re also saved to something.
It’s this second part that so many Christians struggle with. Within Christian discourse, the use of the phrase “God’s will” is all-to-common. It has become devoid of any real meaning and is used in a very flippant manner often leading to confusion and frustration. So, let’s unpack things a bit.
First and foremost, God’s will is seldom something specific. Although it can be, it certainly doesn’t have to be. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Paul tells the local church, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Now, this isn’t an exhaustive checklist on how to discover God’s will. Paul also tells the same congregation, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality…” Peter also exclaims, “For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.”
Not helpful? Confused even more now? Thought so.
Well, these verses pertain to different circumstances and contexts. Alone they may not be helpful in trying to determine what God’s will is. However, when you look at theses passages in the backdrop of Scripture, you begin to see a common thread. They pertain to right living—obedience.
So now what?
Great question! Simply put—be obedient. The will of God for your life right now is to honor God’s word and live a life that pleases Him. This is what we are saved to. As Christians pray without ceasing, abstain from sexual immorality (among a plethora of other sins), and be grateful or content in all things, they are taking part in God’s will.
Don’t get sidetracked on finding what God wants you to do long term. Be obedient to him right now in your career, your relationships, your habits, and your private life. The more you concentrate on living a life that is pleasing to God, the easier it will be to determine which paths to take when they present themselves.
When King Saul decided to spare King Agag’s life after God told him to destroy all of the Amalekites, Samuel confronted Saul: “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22).
Saul focused on the particulars rather than the big picture—simple obedience to God’s commands. Saul was a part of God’s will in regard to his position as king but he certainly wasn’t acting within God’s will by being disobedient.
Whenever you are discouraged or confused, remember these words from the prophet, Jeremiah: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”