Guess what, son, I know God’s will for your life.
Before you start thinking I have some special insight into what college you’re supposed to attend, or I know the name of the girl you’re going to marry, or I can discern what career you need to pursue, let me tell you a story.
About a year ago I was offered a job teaching Bible at a great school in Holland. The only problem was that I already had a teaching job in Lansing that I really enjoyed. Naturally, I wanted to know what I should do. So I asked God.
God didn’t tell me.
As the deadline for my decision approached, I got a little panicky. “Come on God, where do you want me to go? Just tell me and I’ll do it! Any time now would be great.”
I started wondering how this whole “will of God” thing worked. Isn’t He supposed to make it clear to me through a dream, or at least a sign of some sorts? This proved disastrously confusing as I began seeing contradictory signs in every conversation.
“Well God opened the door for you to go, didn’t He? He’s telling you something there.”
“Someone mentioned to me just the other day that you’re having a real impact in Lansing. Interesting that would happen just as you’re making this decision, don’t you think?”
I’d see a quote on Facebook, “Don’t be afraid to move on and start a new chapter.” Next I’d read a magazine article about staying committed to one place for a long time. After a few weeks of seeing “signs” just about everywhere, the only thing I was sure of was that God was messing with me.
I read the way God communicated with his servants in the Bible and become plain jealous.
“You will go on from there until you reach the great tree of Tabor. Three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you there. One will be carrying three young goats, another three loaves of bread, and another a skin of wine. They will greet you and offer you two loaves of bread, which you will accept from them. After that you will go to Gibeah of God, where there is a Philistine outpost. As you approach the town, you will meet a procession of prophets coming down from the high place…” (God speaking to Saul, from 1 Sam. 10).
And on and on. Seriously, God? You gave Saul step-by-step GPS directions and you’re not even going to tell me where to work?
As I became more and more afraid of making the wrong decision and somehow going against God’s will, the Holy Spirit finally spoke up. “Trust Me,” God said. I politely insisted that I’d need more information than that if I was going to make the right decision, but nothing more was said. I was getting ready to bust out some Urim and Thummim (look it up), when a new thought hit me like soaking wet wool fleece (or should it be dry?) to the face: Maybe God’s will isn’t as much about where to be as it is about who to be.
God wanted me to be a man who trusted Him, that much was pretty clear. It was also pretty clear that I hadn’t been trusting. Ironically, I hadn’t been doing God’s will because I was so worried about doing God’s will. All along he wanted me to rest in the assurance that I serve a good God who doesn’t abandon His children at the drop of a hat. So I confidently made the decision to accept the job, knowing that a life surrendered to the Living God could be used anywhere.
I learned that the person I am becoming is often more important to God than where I am going. And this isn’t just a 21st century thing either. God led his people in circles in the wilderness for forty years just to teach them dependence on Him. The Promised Land could wait; their hearts needed shaping first. I think the same is true with us today. Instead of always badgering God about where we should be, perhaps it’s high time we looked to His word about who we should be. We might be surprised by how clear God is about this in His Word.
Son, I can say without a doubt that I know God’s will for your life. God’s will is for you to be humble, thankful, compassionate, joyful, prayerful. He wants you to love Him with all your heart, soul, might, and mind. He wants you to love your neighbor as yourself—even your enemies. He wants you to notice the people others brush past, to care for those who might be hurting, to be salt and light wherever you may be. God wants you to persevere in hard times, to hope in confusing times, and to trust Him at all times. Run after these things and you will be right where God wants you to be.