GOD’S WILL FOR YOUR LIFE

Many Christians wonder and ask about God's will for their lives. They wish God would send them a dream, a vision or a message in a fortune cookie, anything, just to let them know what their next move in life should be. Some would even like God to give them a play-by-play preview of His will for the remainder of their lives. While the Bible does give us many instances where He spoke to the patriarchs, prophets and others and gave specific directions regarding His will, this does not at all mean that this is, or ought to be, God's usual practice. In fact, like other miraculous events recorded in Scripture, one of the reasons these instances are noted is because they are unusual and exceptions to the rule.

We need to differentiate between God's strategic and His prescriptive will. God has a strategy for carrying out His plans for His creation, including that part of His creation that has fallen under the dominion of sin and Satan. Most of this plan remains hidden to us but the general outlines have been revealed to the Prophets and the Apostles through the Holy Spirit and communicated to us in Sacred Scripture. The goal He is aiming for is the highest good of His creation. God is love and love is not selfish. He has exposed Himself to incalculable suffering by creating beings with free wills. He knows that some of them, in fact, a great number of them will use their free wills to sow discord and destruction, turning His originally "very good" creation into a place where suffering and sorrow abound. But He also knows that He can save a good number of us sinners and the damage we would otherwise do by certain means. Chief among these means is the Incarnation whereby God becomes a human being, unselfishly serves the needs of fallen humans and then yields up His life to atone for their sins. Because God's unselfish love, as well as His loyalty to the Law, is so vividly displayed in the atonement, the Holy Spirit is provided with a powerful tool to move sinners to repentance and God can also safely offer such sinners His complete forgiveness.

The whole point of this plan of salvation is to bring us to full obedience to His prescriptivewill, the moral Law. Sin is what destroys the highest happiness of God's creatures and therefore grieves His loving heart. So if we are asking what is God's will for us the answer is simple: His will is that we fully obey His Law. That is why Christ died for us: "And He Himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed." (1 Peter 2:24) Those who ask the question, "What is God's will for my life?" need look no farther than those precepts God has already revealed in the Holy Scriptures and in their consciences by the Holy Spirit. The will of God is not primarily a set of instructions such as "go to the University of Colorado rather than to UC Davis" or "Bill is the man I want you to marry". God leaves up to us most of these questions. Or, rather, if we are right with God and using the wisdom He has given us, we will be rightly guided even though we have not heard a voice, seen a vision or even "felt a peace about it."

The last mentioned means by which many Christians say they are guided, that is, by feeling "a peace about it" is much abused. In all too many cases it means nothing more than that they feel good about doing something which God has explicitly forbidden, wise counsel has advised against or due consideration of all the facts would determine harmful. It is quite true that God may tell us to do something that to the worldly mind appears foolish. When Jesus told His disciples that He must go up to Jerusalem to "suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed…" Peter "took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying 'God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.'" But Jesus turned to Peter and said, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me, for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's." (Matthew 16:21-23) Peter's mistake was that he had just then succumbed to a worldly spirit that wanted the kingdom to be established on earth without having to tread the arduous, agonizing path of the cross.

We will be rightly guided when we are fully submitted to God, willing to follow His commandments and fully desirous to be as useful to Him as we possibly can be. God, in that case, will not need very often to give us specific guidance about a matter. His already revealed commandments and the wisdom with which He will fill our minds will enable us to weigh the various options before us and come to a good decision. A good example of this was when a man came to Jesus and asked Him to settle a dispute between himself and his brother over their father's inheritance. Jesus replied to that man, "Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?" At first, this appears a very odd thing for Jesus to say for, after all, is He not the Just Judge and Ruler of the Universe? Who better to bring our questions of justice to? But Jesus immediately follows His question with the following advice: "Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions." (Luke 12:13-15) What was hindering the harmony of these two brothers was that they were disobeying the tenth Commandment: "You shall not covet." Were they to comply with that commandment, a peaceful resolution would have been quickly found. In fact, if even one of them had been free of covetousness, peace would have prevailed. Do you remember how Abraham left it up to his nephew, Lot, to choose which of two possible lands on which to graze his herds, even though one was much better than the other? Selfishly, Lot chose the better land and Abraham was content. Later, Lot suffered greatly for his selfish choice but Abraham was blessed. (Read Genesis, chapters 13 and 19 for the full story.)

We need very little in the way of extra or miraculous guidance from God. He has already told us His will: "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8)