With the busyness of our lives and society seemingly becoming more and more fast paced to “figure life out”, most of us have this idea to achieve a life of perfection. We all strive for particular goals whatever they may be to create a legacy worthwhile and it all circles back to the same thought/question: what am I going to do with my life? Or as Christians we say, what is God’s will for my life?
All too often we get confused or have certain emotions we try to process towards something whether it be school, a relationship, a job, something we want, etc. we take those feelings and emotions and mistake them for God’s will. Sometimes it’s easy to think of God as a magic 8 ball (S/O to my pastor Rhyan Smith since this came from one of his amazing sermons) where we ask a question and hope we’ll get this divine yes or no answer with the clouds parted and angels singing in the background. He’s not though. He’s the God of the universe and He clearly states in Scripture what His will is for us.
“And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14-24 NIV)
The 4 aspects of God’s will to sum it up are simple.
1). Sanctification- Meaning we are to be set apart from the world in our actions and our faith for we’ve become set apart for our new lives in Christ.
2). Staying Joyful Always- This is a challenging one. (ok, maybe not so simple, oops!) no matter what trials may come we must always stay joyful. People often mistake happiness and joy as being identical. They go hand in hand, but they’re not the same. Happiness is the product of joy. We may not always be happy with a circumstance, but we can always find joy in even the direst suffering by having faith in our Lord. Through constant joy emerges happiness and a humble heart.
3). Pray, Pray, Pray- Sometimes we forget that God can see every little action and thought and though He knows what we need and will intercede, how do we expect Him to answer a prayer if we don’t first ask Him? He wants us to come before Him and lay down our struggles as well as our praises. We need to stay persistent in prayer because it produces in us a heart for relationship for Jesus. He doesn’t need the prayer, but He knows we do.
4). Give Thanks- Not just for the good, but for the bad and the ugly as well. Praises for the good works He’s done for us are wonderful, but we mustn’t forget that in times of heartache, anger, sadness, and grief, those are also times of praise as well. We don’t yet understand what The Lord is doing in our most painful times, but soon we will so better to thank Him now instead of looking back and regretting how you got mad at Him in the heat of the moment later.
Nowhere in Scripture does it say that you can or cannot get that job, you can or cannot put your kids in this activity, or the seemingly popular high school topics (in my observations at least), you can or cannot go to this college, or you can or cannot pursue that relationship (assuming that all these things are being pursued for the right reasons). The beautiful thing about God is that when we’re living for Him, and living to glorify Him, our dreams and His become one. We don’t have to stress out about what we’re going to do because:
1). Whatever God wants for our lives He’ll make happen.
2). We have to keep in mind that what we do isn’t for salvation, to do what’ll make us look like the best person and try to make God love us more since that ain’t happenin’, but to do what will glorify Him.
God gives us these hopes for our lives in our hearts. He WANTS us to dream, that’s why He put them there. If whatever you’re striving for is ultimately for the glory of God, there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t pursue it. Just live with an open hand and realize that no matter, what, his will, will be done.
Problems arise when while trying to pursue what we think God wants for us, we end up trying to control the situation. We get so caught up in thinking about the future that we aren’t even promised tomorrow and NEWSFLASH: that’s called idolatry. Looking at James 4:13-17 it says, “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”
What really hit home for me was when it says, “anyone then who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” God calls us to love others and to love Him above all. He’s given us His will and that should give us peace. The goal is to become more like Jesus every single day and if what we want is a reflection of that, He’ll make it happen either way in His own time.
These are things I totally find myself working through everyday. It’s a balance of making sure we’re keeping Christ at the center and having our dreams left open with an open hand and being open to the fact that God could have something completely different, which, lemme tell ya friends, it almost always is but it’s always so much better. Two questions I ask myself and would like to leave you asking yourselves are (another Rhyan Smith sermon shoutout):
1). Does what you want to do line up with scripture, in other words, is it honoring to God?
2). What are other, wiser Christians saying about it? Are they in support or do they oppose it because of reasonably valid temptations leading to sin?