I know the most important component of designing our life is to align it with God’s will. With that being said, how do we know if we are aligned with His Will? I think some people are in a category where they hear or see a vision that is directly from God. But for most of us I imagine it is more subtle.
We are required to engage not only our obedience, but also our faith. If we knew for sure it was a message from Him then our obedience would be fully tested. Without direct communication from the Lord Himself, we are required to first step out in faith and then act in obedience.
I am asked often in both coaching and counseling sessions, “How do I know if it is God’s will for me?” What a difficult question! I think it is probably different for each of us and there isn’t a precise formula.
But, I thought it couldn’t hurt if I shared some of the ways I seek to understand and know God’s will, with the disclaimer that it may definitely be different for you!
Not a Formula, But A Few Ideas
Let me try to decipher a few ways we may know a path or vision is within God’s Will:
1. I believe at times He will put a burden on our heart for an issue, a person or something that burdens Him. We know it burdens God because the bible tells us so. There are examples all through the bible of what is important to our Lord:
- The elderly, widows, and orphans
- The meek
- Spreading the Gospel
- Loving others, encouraging others, being generous
- Feeding the poor
And so on, and so on. I don’t think being able to buy a new boat is an example, unless it is the 21st century’s Noah’s Ark.
2. He tells us for those who love Him and align our lives with Him that He wants to give us the desires of our heart. If we look at what we desire and it is not something sinful, or harmful to others, then there is no reason we shouldn’t pursue it.
3. Another way may be that God keeps opening doors. It could be a crazy path for us individually, but opportunity keeps knocking, so we should answer. Even if it isn’t in our gifting, the Lord can work in our weakness. An example would be my friend Katherine Cobb’s documentary, Jesus Freaks. She said that producing any kind of media wasn’t in her gifts or plan. But God put the burden in her heart and kept opening the doors.
4. I think sometimes we need to even look at what is holding us back. Maybe God’s burden was placed in our heart or we have a latent passion to pursue something, but it never seems to be the right time or you just feel you weren’t gifted appropriately. Satan is the author of lies which can turn into tall and thick walls that keep us from pursuing our dreams. What are our barriers?
- Not enough money to pursue; have to be practical and make a living
- Doors haven’t automatically opened; if it was God’s plan it would just fall in my lap
- So many people are naysayers; it must be a bad plan
The sad thing is that we only live one life and many of us waste it on survival, other people’s priorities, or the easiest path. Are we going to look back from heaven and say I survived this world? I know it is a stretch, but our life is a resource; it is time and energy. Jesus made it clear that he didn’t want us to stash the resources we are given under a mattress for safe keeping until he returns. He wants us to invest it in His Kingdom and multiply it. I don’t want to enter heaven and have God disappointed in me. He provided me with His saving grace and I stashed it safely away until this moment. And at this moment it dawns on me, He wants to know what I have been doing with His gift all of these years.
I Know God Has a Plan For Each Of Us (Jeremiah 29:11)
God’s plans are perhaps different for each of us but I know that a.) He has a plan for each of us, and b.) each plan will be consistent with His nature.
God’s Eternal Life Cycle Curve
If you are like me facing mid-life you may look back and wonder when the fire began to fade. When did our view that we could conquer the world change to “we can survive it” or “it is kicking my ___!” If you ever learned about life cycles in economics you are quite aware that the downward slope becomes a deep decline to the end. The typical economic life cycle doesn’t continue to ascend to the “heavens” above. I don’t believe the economic life cycle of a business or product is God’s plan for His people. Life doesn’t end here on earth for His children. We do ascend to heaven which is not the end; actually it is more like a beginning. With eternity in mind the life cycle is more of an infinite incline building momentum. In view of this new vision where are you? Is your incline more gradual or are you actually on a plateau; maybe stalled out.
Satan Wants Us To Retire, Not God
I think the take away here is that it isn’t God’s plans for us to diminish our passion or purpose in this life. It may be Satan’s! It may be the result of running the race in our own human strength or trying to live in the world. God doesn’t want us to retire. Fortunately, there are those who illustrate God’s plan. Mother Teresa continued to pursue God’s purposes until her death. Billy Graham’s impact continues in his 90’s. Their legacy lives on with the eternal message of the cross. Their legacy continues to save and heal and minister.
What is the difference between Mother Teresa and us? Is it her gifts and talents or is it her faith and purpose? We have the rest of our life. Do you want to save the rest of your time and talents for heaven or do you want to live in eternity starting now and have a life of purpose and passion?