“I’m totally confused. How in the world do I find the will of God for my life?” I cannot number how many times through the years I have heard that query.
I could probably record at least ten ways that God leads His children today, but I shall restrict myself to the four that I think are the most significant procedures of God’s leading.
1. God leads us through His Word.
As the psalmist said:
The word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)
Whenever you find the phrase”That is the will of God” in Scripture, you can depend on itthat’s God’s will. You also understand that to disobey would be to deny His Word.
Precepts are clearly marked statements, such as “Abstain from sexual immorality.” Anything over 35 miles an hour. That’s a precept.
Then there are principles in Scripture, and all these are general guidelines that need discernment and maturity when we are to grasp them. Paul writes of”the peace of God” guarding and directing our hearts and our heads (Philippians 4:7). That’s similar to the indication that says,”Drive Carefully.” This may mean 40 miles an hour to a clear, uncongested road, or it may mean less than 10 miles an hour on an ice-covered curve. However, it always means that we must be alert and aware of conditions… we have to be discerning. There’s not any hint large enough to list all the choices you have when you’re behind the wheel. So you must know the rules of the road, follow the signs that are there, and use all of your best judgment combined with discernment.
You may never, ever go wrong in consulting Scripture. Just be sure you pay careful attention to this context. Do not use the”open-window process,” allowing the wind blow across the pages of your Bible and then closing your eyes and pointing to a verse and saying,”This is God’s leading on that.” Should you do that, you could end up using”Judas went away and hanged himself” as your verse for the day! Do not go there.
2. God leads us through the inner prompting of the Holy Spirit.
So then, my dear, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; therefore it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
The inner workings of the Holy Spirit gives us a sense of God’s leading, although that leading is not always what we could call a”feel-good” encounter. In my own life, my choice to accept the presidency of Dallas Theological Seminary was not an easy one. Ultimately, it was an”at-peace” conclusion, but it was not what I’d have wanted or chosen. I found all kinds of ways to resist when the place was first offered to me. I wrote the president and the chairman a two-page letter, well thought through, carefully stated, and full of Scripture. It should have positive anybody that I was the wrong person for the job. Except that God was active forcing them–and, later, methat I was the ideal individual. Although it went against my own wishes at the time, I couldn’t resist the persuasive, all-powerful prompting of the Holy Spirit.
So I can testify from personal experience that you can believe you really know God’s will, and you may be dead wrong. But in case you are, the prompting of the Holy Spirit will be nudging you inside.
The mind of man plans his way,
But the LORD directs his steps. (Proverbs 16:9)
It is easier to steer a moving car–only get the car rolling and you can push it to the filling station to get the gas. Nonetheless, it’s hard to get it going from a dead stop. So you’re in your way, you are making your plans, you’re thinking it all through. In the process, stay open. In so doing, you may well feel inner promptings from the Holy Spirit steering you.
That internal workings is crucial, because much of this time we just can’t figure it out.
Man’s steps are ordained from the LORD,
(I love that!) When all is said and done, you are going to say,”Honestly, I didn’t figure out this thing. It must have been God.” The more I live the Christian life, the less I understand about why He leads as He does. But I am absolutely confident that He leads.
3. God leads us through the counsel of wise, qualified, trustworthy men and women.
This doesn’t mean some ace in Tibet or a serious-looking stranger at the bus stop. This pertains to an individual who has proven herself or himself wise and trustworthy and, thus, qualified to advise on a particular matter. Usually, such individuals are older and more mature than we are. Furthermore, they have nothing to gain or lose. This also means that they are often not in our immediate family. (Immediate family members usually don’t want us to do something that will take us away from them or cause us or them distress or worry.)
At critical moments in my life, I have sought the counsel of seasoned individuals–and they have rarely been incorrect. That’s been my experience. But you must choose your counselors quite carefully. And just as the top counselors are usually not your family, frequently they are not your best friends . Wise and trusted counselors are persons that want for you just what God wants. Such persons will stay objective, listen carefully, and answer slowly. Often they won’t give you an answer at the moment you ask for this. They want to sleep on itthey want to believe and pray about it.
4. God leads us into His will by giving us an inner assurance of peace.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,” Paul wrote to the Colossians,”to which indeed you were called in 1 body; and be thankful” (Colossians 3:15). God’s inner assurance of peace will act as an umpire in your heart.
Although peace is an emotion, I have found it wonderfully reassuring as I’ve wrestled with the Lord’s will. This deep-seated, God-given peace comes despite the obstacles or the chances, regardless the risk or danger. It’s almost like God’s way of saying,”I’m in this choice… press on… trust Me .”
The will of God for our own lives isn’t some high-sounding theory; it is reality. We have looked at some of the ways God leads us into His will. Now comes the bottom line: we have to live out His will in the real world.
Doing God’s will demands a choice. And that decision requires faith and action. You can’t find the end, so you have to trust Him in faith and then step out. You have to act. Faith and obedience are like twins; they move together.
Hebrews 11:6 tells us that”without faith it’s impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek him.”