A few weeks ago, a student at camp posed one of the most difficult and mature questions with which many of us have pondered and likely struggled: How do I know God’s will? It’s a difficult question to answer for everyone, not just teenagers or the young in Christ. Right now, I find myself in a situation in which I must make a decision that requires me to dive into the center of this very question. So with all the integrity I can muster, I would like to share five thoughts/concepts to sort through that may help you in your journey as you, like me, wrestle with this question.
1 – Spend time with GOD. I know this sounds cliché, but spending time with God is imperative in coming to the reality of recognizing His voice. Let me explain: your relationship with anyone rises and falls on the amount of time you spend with the person, talking, listening, and understanding who they are and who you are to them. Relationships in which people do not communicate do not have any chance of lasting. You have to spend time sharing with and listening to God in order to be able to recognize His voice when He speaks, however He chooses to speak. It’s like that app SongPop. The more times you hear a song, a melodic intro, or an artist, the faster you are able to recognize the song, the artist, or the voice. The spiritual concept works the same way. And please remember!—communication is a two-way street. You have to speak, and you have to listen.
2 – Check the Scriptures. I am absolutely certain God has not, does not, and will not contradict himself. He can’t. If He did, He would not be God. So whenever you feel as if God is telling you something, search the scriptures. He will not tell you or send you to do something that He forbids or that is against His will or the person of Jesus Christ. If that does happen in your journey, in your efforts, or in your contemplation, then you can be certain that what you’re hearing is NOT God’s will.
3 – Keep an eye on the “crossroads.” The “crossroads” in my mind deal with who God created you to be from the beginning. The Bible speaks of knowing you and “knitting” you in your mother’s womb. Your special talents, traits, and gifts that make you unique and special were intricately woven to make you who you are.
When trying to discern God’s will in things, it is often helpful to see if there is a “crossroad,” or an intersection, between who God uniquely created you to be and the journey or path you are considering following. Does everything about who you are align with everything that you feel you are called to do? Let me give you an example of when there is a lack of a “crossroad”: if you feel that God is calling you to be a missionary as a player in the NBA, yet you were born small and have grown to be a 5’2” adult female who is lacking in coordination, then it is likely that God is not calling you to play professional basketball. Though this example is extreme, it does hint at a hard truth. God will call you to that future that He has created in His infinite wisdom for you. Your unique gifts and talents will, for the most part, be fit to your unique calling along the way.
Don’t discount that God is God, and He sometimes does what He pleases, like calling a stuttering Moses to lead. But remember that in this instance, Moses received a burning bush, a conversation, and a stick-to-snake miracle to affirm His calling.
4 – Watch the circumstances and scenarios. There will often, but not always, be things that happening around you pointing or assisting you along the way. Sometimes these things happen prior to your decision; sometimes they will come as affirmation after you take a leap of faith. The point is that God tends to make Himself known and help us out with things when He calls us to do something. This would include providing gifts that weren’t there before, answering questions with unexpected phone calls, or granting opportunities that may have never come up in other situations.
5 – Seek wise counsel. Listen to those who have gone before you. I remember an old song that I sang as a teenager for special music in churches. The words still ring true in my mind:
Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses
Let us run the race not only for the prize
But as those who’ve gone before us
Let us leave to those behind us
A heritage of faithfulness
Passed on through godly lives
Hebrews gives a list of faithful followers for a reason. We are to look at them. We are to listen to them. And there are people who have gone before us in this journey of faith we are following. It is imperative that we seek them out, converse with them, and make use of their love for God, their love for us, and the wisdom they have gained. Please find people you trust and look up to in the faith, and spend time with them. Ask them to help you discern what God’s will is for you.
I hope these points are helpful, and I want to leave you with a final thought: Nothing is definitive. None of these things by itself, however, can really be helpful. Use them all. Run your questions and callings through them as sieves to find the truth and calling in your life. And beyond them, JUMP! Jump in and run, soar, fly into what God is calling you to do without hesitation.
Running with you,