Can I KNOW God*s Will for My Life?
Life is downright confusing at times. There are lots of options out there. And making the right decision, the right choice, isn*t always easy to do. In fact, doing the right thing – following the will of God – can seem almost impossible at times. Sometimes we face the circumstances of life without a clue, having no idea what we should do. We would like to know the will of God, but the screen of insight and understanding is blank and we don*t know where to turn or which way to go.
The Beginning of Wisdom
At times like this we need to wait, and, while waiting, we need to pray for guidance and trust God to show us the way. That*s the starting point for discerning the will of God: asking, waiting and trusting until God makes His plan clear and His chosen course plain. When we have no obvious, clear and specific guidance, that*s the best and wisest thing we can do.
Dealing With "Impressions"
At other times, we "receive an impression" that perhaps we should do a particular thing, go to a certain place, or make some specific decision. When those "impressions" come, we need to be very careful about them. We need to study them carefully to be certain that they come from God. Here*s why...
Satan has the ability to put ideas into our head just as easily as God does. He has access to our thoughts and loves to put "impressions"into our minds that can cause us trouble along the way.
That*s why we need to check out every "impression" alongside some basic guidelines for knowing God*s will. If God really wants us to do something, He will use several means to show us that the "impression" is true.
Discerning God*s Course
Someone once said that finding the will of God is like lining a ship up with a series of navigation lights when steering a course into a harbor. When all the lights are lined up, and when they*re all showing the same color, the pilot knows that the ship is on the proper course.
Here are five "guide lights" that God uses to show us the course He wants us to follow...
An Inner Witness
First, we will have the thought or impression – "you should do this" – but, along with the thought, there will be an inner witness in our heart – a witness of common sense – that*s it is the right thing to do. This inner witness will show us that the decision or action would be good for us, good for others, and good for God should we decide to do it – whatever it is. (Ask yourself: Would making this decision be good for me? How would it be good for others? How would it be good for God? Would it be the right thing for me at this time? Does it line up with common sense? Would it make a positive contribution to my growth in Christ?)
The Witness of the Word
Second, God*s Word will in someway positively line up with the impression. Basic Bible principles will testify to the fact that following the "impression" would produce positive results. Or, God*s Word will show us that it wouldn’t be a good thing and might produce negative results. (Would this decision, for instance, help you avoid things you need to avoid – "shun evil and do good" – or would it draw you closer to those things? Would this contemplated step bring you closer to Jesus – God wants to conform us to the image of His Son – or would it give you opportunity to drift away from Him? Would this possible course benefit the Kingdom of God or detract from it?)
The Witness of Circumstances
Third, God will always cause circumstances to line up with the impression, so that there is good reason for us to accept the impression as coming from Him. Something will "drop into our lap" that tells us this is the right thing to do
– a wonderful opportunity, an exciting ministry, a powerful possibility for growth, etc. (Has anything like that happened to show you that the possibility you*re considering holds wonderful spiritual possibilities for you that you can*t realize anywhere else, or in some other way? Has God opened some door that He obviously wants you to walk through?)
The Witness of Christian Counsel
Fourth, God will usually bring a witness from Christian friends and counselors that this is what you should do. Therefore, ask the people you respect for their advice. Other believers will clearly state that they believe this is what God has in mind for you. Or, they will tell you that they believe this decision could do you more harm than good. Advice from friends alone (and it should always be from positive Christian friends) isn’t the deciding factor, but when it lines up with everything else – or when it doesn’t – it should definitely be considered. (Has anyone you truly respect suggested that this would be a good thing for you, or given you a list of positive reasons that you should make such a move? Have you received opposing counsel or advice?)
The Witness of Personal Peace
Finally, if a decision or possibility is the thing that God has in mind for you, He will give you an inner peace about it. There won*t be doubts or questions, just the certainty that everything is aligned and that you should step out in faith and discover what God has in store. If that peace does not come, the possibility probably isn’t from God. (Are you confused about the impression? Do you feel down deep in your soul that it is truly the best thing for you to do? If you don*t have a positive feeling toward the possibility it probably isn’t a positive choice. At least, not for you.)
To Discern God*s Will Line Up the Lights
To make such an important decision, align your thinking according to the five "guide lights" by asking these questions:
(1) Do I have an INNER WITNESS that this is the RIGHT thing to do?
(2) Does GOD*S WORD support the decision or stand against it?
(3) Do CIRCUMSTANCES present some special possibility or opportunity?
(4) Do CHRISTIAN FRIENDS AND COUNSELORS support or oppose the decision?
(5) Do I possess an INNER PEACE about taking this step?
If all five questions can be answered positively, then it is safe to trust that God is leading and to step out in faith. God*s answer is "GO."
If one or two of the questions cannot be answered, or must be answered negatively, you should give the "impression" a lot more prayer and careful examination. At best, God*s answer is "SLOW"
If most of the questions must be answered in the negative, there*s little question that this isn’t God*s plan for you. God*s answer is "NO."
Back to the Beginning
Unless you have a clear answer, the best thing to do is wait. Stay right where you are. Keep doing what you*ve been doing. Keep trusting the Lord. And WAIT! He will work in your circumstances to bring everything into line. Keep faith with Him no matter how long it takes. When the time is right, He will show you the way – His way.
When God does have a direction in mind for you, He will make it clear. And it will be more than an "impression." The five tests will line up, the answer to every question will be a "green light" and God*s answer will be "GO."
Once you*re sure that you*ve received direction from God, go for it with your entire being. The will of God is only a step away!