Does God have a plan for my life, and will He direct me into it?
I believe a sovereign, Almighty, all-knowing God does indeed have a plan for the life of His children, just as He had a plan for Paul (Acts 9:15). The same God that led Israel through the wilderness with the pillar of cloud and fire (Numbers 9:15-23) is the God that we have today.
Are Christians slaves to the will of God?
Do I need a word from the Lord as to which grocery store to go to today? What believer to visit? Which car to drive? Is every aspect of my life to be a simple adherence to what God places before me? Or is the will of God more than that? I would like to present what I believe is the teaching of Scripture in relation to some of these things– things that I have wondered about in time past.
A Christian is indeed a bondslave of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 6:6), but he/she is motivated by love, not by forced obligation (1 Peter 5:2, 2Cor. 5:14).
I believe God is more interested in developing His likeness in us than telling us specific things we are to do. Having a heart like His heart produces a life that is fruitful and which delights to fulfill His will. When the Lord brings into our circumstances something He has equipped and exercised us to do, it is the natural thing to do it. Also, God delights in giving us things we ask for that are according to His will (John 16:24, 1John 5:14). If we were robots, He wouldn’t want us to ask. Paul had a longing to see the saints in Rome (Romans 1:10). God granted His request, but it was in His way and time. God wouldn’t want us to ask for wisdom if He didn’t expect us to use it (James 1:5). So God isn’t looking for mindless followers, but for children who know Him, grow in His wisdom, and walk uprightly because they delight in His character and Person.
Doing the will of God is directly related to pleasing God. I can ask myself, “would this please God?” (Ephesians 5:10 NASB). God doesn’t need to give me special guidance for things He has already forbidden in His Word.
Guidance from God
That being said, God has directed His people to do specific things in the past. For example:
- The Old Testament is full of specific commands given by God to individuals, often through prophets.
- Failure to ask for counsel and direction brought difficulty (Joshua 9:14).
- God gave direction regarding who to preach the gospel (Acts 13:2) and where to preach the gospel (Acts 16:6-10).
- God gave instructions in regard to Gentile visitors, Acts 10:9-21. Note that God didn’t give Peter all the information all at once. The will of God was made clear to Peter over time in various ways.
- Many examples of today could also be given. Norman Crawford speaks of being without the money to be able to drive to meeting, and that day in the post office, though there was no mail, someone (who had no idea as to his circumstances) walked up to him and gave him money that enabled him to get to meeting that night, saying “the Lord told me to give this to you.” D. L. Moody has accounts of answers to prayer by men and women who obviously were led in some way to send the needed help at just the right time. Darlene Deibler Rose tells of how the Lord spoke and strengthened her through her many trials in prison camps (listen). Many similar circumstances could be related (including some in my own life).
God may not speak in the same way today as He did in past days, but I believe He still directs His people. So, God may choose to direct me to a particular grocery store so as to be able to share the gospel with someone there, but I should not be preoccupied over which one to go to if I don’t have reason to believe God is taking me to one or the other. He will see to it that His will is accomplished in my life if my heart is right before Him. It is good to be on our knees before God for direction for the day, and we can trust Him to do His work through us when the time is right, as we meditate upon His word, attend meetings, and receive His instruction. Chances are, if God wants me to talk to someone at a particular grocery store, He will work the circumstances in such a way that what He wants to take place will happen without my even knowing that He’s doing it. I just have to be in the proper condition before Him to be ready to take that opportunity. If someone comes up to you and asks if you’re a Christian, well, you don’t have to doubt whether God wants you to talk to them about the Bible! Be willing and ready and let God work. Consider the example of Esther. She likely didn’t know God was leading her into the position of being queen, but God put her there at just the right time so as to be in a position to save the Jewish people (Esther 4:14). Being in that position, she was faced with a decision and finally submitted her will and personal fears so as to be a blessing to others (Esther 4:16).
Sometimes circumstances are out of our control, and we have to simply accept them as being the will of God (Acts 21:14). Sometimes things are unpleasant for us, but are still permitted by God for a reason–He is in control of our circumstances (Luke 22:42; 1 Peter 3:17; 4:19).
I do not believe that God wants us to be in constant turmoil over what is His will for me. Rather, He would have us to understand His revealed will from the Scriptures which is plain and simple to understand. Then if we are open to the Spirit’s guidance in our lives, we will be directed into His will in other areas of our lives as well. We may not even know the Lord is directing us at times, but He is able to work all things out according to His good plan, whether I am aware of the details or not, and whether I do everything “just right” or not (Ephesians 1:11; Romans 8:28 NASB). Don’t let the concept of being afraid to do the “wrong thing” paralyze your usefulness for God. Do what you believe God has given you the ability to do, and what is beneficial to others, and you will find that as you are actively seeking to live for Him, He will channel that desire and labor into the areas where it will fulfill His purposes.
Scripture selections from the epistles relating to the will of God for all believers:
Perhaps someone says, “The Bible is lengthy. Where particularly can I read about God’s will for me?” It is with this in mind that I have put together a list of verses that should give every believer a good idea of God’s will for them. You may choose to go through them as part of your daily reading.
- Romans 12:1-13:14; 15:1-7
- 1Cor. 10; 11:24; 13; 15:58
- 2Cor. 4:7-18; 5:6-15, 20; 6:14-7:1; 9:6-15; 12:7-10; 13:11
- Gal. 5:1-6:10
- Eph. 1:15-23; 3:14-6:20
- Phil. 1:21-2:16; 3:7-4:9
- Col. 1:9-12; 2:6-4:6
- 1 Thes. 4:1-12; 5:12-28
- 1 Tim 2:1-15; 4:6-6:21
- 2 Tim 1:6-14
- Tit. 2:11-3:8
- Heb. 12:1-14; 13:1-18
- James 1:27; 4:15; 5:7-20
- 1 Peter 1:13-2:3; 2:11-3:12; 4:1-11
- 2 Peter 1:1-11; 3:18
- 1 John 3:23-24; 4:7-14; 4:21-5:3
Should I be interested about, convicted about, desiring God’s will for me? Yes! Should I be overly worried and preoccupied about His specific, daily plan? As long as I am open and willing, no (Phil. 4:6-7 NASB). We should use the wisdom God has given us and the desires He has instilled in us by His Spirit, while waiting on Him for specific direction when the need arises.
God’s will is good, acceptable, and perfect (Romans 12:2). It is God’s best, though it may not seem best to me or be the most enjoyable. God’s will for Christ was Calvary. It meant hardship and suffering, but ultimately infinite blessing to us and infinite glory to Him. Let us seek to please Him in all respects (Col. 1:10 NASB, 2 Tim. 2:4), trusting Him to work in our lives (Hebrews 11:6).
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).