Anyone who dares to broach this topic does so at his own (and perhaps his readers’) peril. The subject of God’s will is just so expansive and complex, who can answer all the questions?
When we ask, “What is God’s will for my life?” we say more about our culture than our God. The question usually arises over career issues. “What major should I choose?” “What job should I pursue?” “Do I move to this city or that city?” Whatever the specific question, the concern often centers around the workforce. The concern is valid, since we will spend a good deal of life as employees. And if God is so intimately acquainted with us that He has the hairs on our heads numbered, then certainly He is interested in our careers. But I wonder if perhaps we focus too much attention on this matter, as if our specific courses in life were the supreme concern of the Heavenly Father.
No generation or society has ever been afforded such luxury of choice. Our country’s founding principles give us basic rights such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But it is our nation’s prosperity which has created this virtual sea of specific freedoms, and has in turn created many of our speculations about God’s will for our individual lives. Do I become a doctor or an engineer? Maybe a minister or a politician? Or both? The options for us are almost limitless. We have the happy fortune of choosing work that is both meaningful and lucrative. Many before us simply worked to put food on the table. Do we then conclude that their work was somehow less meaningful or pleasing to God because it came with no individual choice? One can hardly make a case for such a view.
Perhaps we spend so much time consumed with this issue of God’s will for “me,” that we overlook God’s will for “us.” It isn’t that His will for us as individuals doesn’t matter, but rather that we pursue it to the neglect of His universal will for mankind. Whether we have a clear sense of God’s specific leading, we are not lacking in universal commands that are God’s will for all His people, for all time. We know we are to go into all the world, preach the Gospel to every creature, love God will all the heart, and love our neighbor as ourselves. Simply stated, God has a bigger agenda than just what job offer I accept.
Romans 12 gives us a picture of how universal God’s will can be. Paul writes, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual ferver, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
In just 10 verses, Paul lays down enough instruction to keep us busy for a lifetime. And not one word of it has anything to do with God’s will for us as individuals. Could it be that God is less concerned about what we do for eight hours a day than He is with what we become in the process? And could it be that our excessive concern for our own lives is more a reflection of our narcissistic culture than a reflection of our Creator? Maybe God, while obviously valuing individuals, would have us view this issue of his will in the context of community. Perhaps the proper question is not, “God, what is your will for me?” but rather, “God, what is your will for us all?” If we wait around for an answer to the former, we may never obey his answer to the latter. And God has said much about the latter.
Don’t let confusion over God’s specific will keep you from obeying His universal will. There will be times in life where our sense of direction is less than crystal clear. It is perfectly legitimate to call on God in those times for direction through the fog. But remember too that much of God’s will is not in question.
In his book, The Call, Os Guinness addresses the quandaries we all have about finding and fulfilling the will of God in our lives. But he is quick to point out that “there is no higher or more ultimate passion than a human being ablaze with a desire for God.” That is God’s will.
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