Best of Daily Reflections: How Can I Know God’s Will for My Life?
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
As a pastor, I have often been asked, “How can I know God’s will for my life?” This question was presented to me dozens of times when I was a parish pastor. I still hear it from my “flock,” often in the form of emails from folks who receive these Daily Reflections. We want to know what God wants us to do with our lives. We want to know what to do next so we don’t get off track.
Ephesians 5:17 encourages me to answer the question “How can I know God’s will for my life?” in a way that may sound a bit odd. But bear with me, if you will. Here goes: You can know God’s will for your life if you first understand what the Lord’s will is.
When we want to know God’s will for our life, often we’re dealing with very specific issues: where to live, what job to take, whom to marry, where to go to school, and so on. We want to know what God wants us to do in a particular situation, and we want to know it now. To be sure, there are times when God makes his will known without question and in the detail we prefer. But, most of the time, God doesn’t work this way. Rather, discerning God’s specific will for our lives is a matter of wrestling with God in prayer and discovering how his general will ought to be worked out in our lives.
What we need, therefore, is to understand what the Lord’s will is, not just in our lives, but in the whole cosmos. Understanding is more than superficial recognition. It’s knowing the basics and making deep connections among them. For example, from Ephesians 1, we know that God’s ultimate purpose is to unite all things in Christ. You and I can easily know this if we read Ephesians 1:9-10. But do we understand it? Do we really get it? Does this truth expand our minds and shape our hearts? Does it move us? Does this truth begin to give order to everything else we think and do?
The more we understand, truly and deeply understand, God’s will for the cosmos, the more we internalize God’s will for every individual, the more we grasp his will for the church, the more we will be in a position to discern his specific will for our specific lives. Our story, if you will, will be shaped by God’s own story, our purpose by his own purpose, our heart by his own heart.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: How have you discerned God’s will for your life in the past? To what extent has God’s larger will shaped your sense of his plans for your own life? What helps you to understand in a deep way the will of God?
PRAYER: Gracious God, thank you for making your will known to us. Thank you for your revelation in Scripture. Thank you for sharing with us the wonder of the gospel. Thank you for showing us yourself and your purpose in Jesus Christ.
Help me, Lord, to understand your will for all things. May my understanding be more than superficial, more than an ability to rattle off a few Bible verses, no matter true they may be. May I understand you and your will deeply, as your Word takes up residence in my inner being, as your Spirit enlightens me, as the community of your people teaches me. Amen.
Each year, workers everywhere receive an evaluation of their job performance from their employer and, while most evaluations in the workplace don't go quite the way they appear on The Apprentice, those annual evaluations are often the source of everything from disappointment and stress, to surprise and a boost of confidence. How do we approach and receive evaluations as Christian workers? What can we learn from Jesus about giving and receiving words of instruction, correction, and affirmation? How can entrepreneurs and the self-employed remain accountable for doing good work and for keeping an eye on weaknesses and vulnerabilities in the workplace? The series, The Evaluation, takes a closer look.