How to Know God’s Will

“WHAT SHOULD I DO?…How do I know I am making the right choice?…What is God’s will for my life?…” At some point or another every Christian comes to a point of decision, a crossroads, or an identity crisis that sends him or her seeking for divine wisdom or a revelation from above. Sometimes they stand before different entryways in a labyrinth without any clue as to which way to go. Often, uncertainty prevails, and the great mystery of God’s will remains just that- a mystery.

But it does not have to be this way!

“Oh no,” you say, “not another article on how to know God’s will! I have heard it all before. Entire books have been devoted to this subject, but still the problem remains- how can I learn God’s will for my life!”

Very simply, I say.

God’s will is not a puzzle that He wants you to figure out. He is not dangling direction in front of you to see if you can somehow grasp it while blindfolded. Yet that is how some people believe.

The truth is that God plainly and clearly reveals His will to those who follow Him. The first step is to understand this and rest in it. Sometimes we have to wait in faith for Him to reveal some specific direction, but it doesn’t have to be with anxiety.

God clearly reveals His will

If you want evidence of this, all you need to do is look at the Bible. The Bible is a record of how God has revealed His will to mankind throughout history.

Take Noah, for example. God told him to build an ark. By faith, Noah “prepared an ark to the saving of his house” (Heb.11:7). He did not have to scratch his head and say, “I wonder if God wants me to build an ark?” It was clear. Noah KNEW.

Look at Abraham. He may not have known where he was going, but he KNEW he was to go: “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed” (vs.8).

The Lord gave Joshua specific instructions about marching around the city of Jericho, and “by faith the walls of Jericho fell down” (vs.30). Joshua was not thinking, “maybe we should march around for a few days and see what happens.” Joshua KNEW.

And so the Lord can be trusted to clearly reveal His will. Even the example of Jonah can be inspiring. Jonah disobeyed the Lord’s call to go to Nineveh, and he suffered for that. But again, the call was very clear- so clear that Jonah claimed responsibility for the storm that came to the boat he was on: “I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you” (Jon.1:12). It was not that he was trying to decide God’s will for his life, it was that he disobeyed what he clearly KNEW.

Rather than leave man alone to grope about and look for the way of salvation, God spoke His holy words to the prophets and apostles. If we have truly been born again, it is because the Holy Spirit opened the eyes of our hearts and gave us a clear understanding of God’s will for us in Jesus: “Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself” (Eph.1:9). If God would clearly reveal this in our fallen state, how much more can we rely on Him to reveal His purposes for us now?

God has revealed much for us already in His Word. Scripture is filled with clear callings and directions on how to live by faith. We don’t have to ask, “I wonder if God is calling me to love my neighbor?” We KNOW.

In the same way, we can know God’s will for the important decisions in our lives. When I first came to understand the Lord’s plan of salvation for my life, I knew I had to respond. When I first tasted of His goodness and life, I thought “how could I ever turn back?”

Afterwards, I wasn’t sure how to find out what God wanted me to do with my life. He was gracious to keep me from making some BIG mistakes.

But then at certain turning points in my life it was very clear to me the direction I should take. Though He did not speak audibly to me, I knew in my heart that I had to move in a specific direction. “How could I not do this?” was the confirming feeling.

The apostle Paul knew beyond a doubt that he was called to preach. “For necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel”(1Cor.9:16)! This is the same feeling: “How could I not do this?” Paul was even warned by the brethren not to go to Jerusalem, because the Holy Spirit had revealed that he would be taken and bound by gospel antagonists. To this he replied, “I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13)! How could I not go? And the others realized that Paul knew his calling and gave up trying to stop him: “And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying THE WILL OF THE LORD BE DONE” (vs.14).

What is the passion in your life? Maybe that is a signal from the Lord.

Jeremiah had made a decision to give up his position as God’s prophet. It was a very trying job to say the least, but at last he just couldn’t quit. “Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones” (Jer.20:9). The passion welled up inside of him according to his calling.

When we know what we are supposed to do, we KNOW! A friend of mine knew he was called to be a missionary to a far away country. He barely had any money, except enough for a one-way plane ticket. By faith, he left, never knowing if or when he would ever return. But he was not going to let a lack of money keep him from what he KNEW the Lord wanted him to do. He has been able to travel many times since. He testifies that God has always provided for his needs.

“But I don’t KNOW! I don’t have any of these ‘special feelings’ you talk about.”

I am not saying that God’s will is known only by feelings. His will always lines up with His Word. Usually circumstances and the counsel of others will fall in line to confirm, but not necessarily always. All that I am saying is that it will be clear to you.

If we get anxious because it has not yet become clear, it may be because we are not willing to wait. God has a perfect and appointed time to make His will known regarding our different circumstances. If we are unsure about His call in our lives, it is probably because He has not called us yet. If and when this is the case, we have to trust Him and wait.

Waiting on Him in faith

These days, waiting is something of a lost art. With every new day, technology and computers are contributing more and more to the universal goal of instant gratification. The transfer of information gets easier and easier and the speed of life quickens. Waiting has become something only to be done when necessary.

God does not always operate according to our timetables. Look at the amount of time involved in the preparation for the Messiah. Consider the years that elapsed from Adam’s time, when the promise was given of the Messianic seed that would bruise the serpent’s head (Gen.3:15). Consider the prophecies of Christ in the Psalms, and how long it took before they were fulfilled. And we are still waiting for the King’s glorious return. These are just but a few examples that should remind us that God is not enslaved by the same instant impulses that govern man.

So it makes sense that one of the fruits of the Spirit should be PATIENCE (Gal.5:22).

We wait because the Lord waits. He knows just what we need and when we need it. His delays are not meant for our trouble, but for our greater good: And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him (Is.30:18).

Do you believe that God will make it abundantly clear to you what His will is for your life? Are you willing to wait? Remember, Jesus did not start His public ministry until He was thirty years old. There were thirty years of preparation! Moses was an old man by the time he received his call at the burning bush. This does not mean that you will have to wait as long, it just means that God’s timing is everything. It may be that now He is preparing you for something in the future. Faith will accept that and wait patiently. In the meantime, keep watch.

Waiting may be difficult, but it is more difficult trying to figure out God’s will when He hasn’t clearly revealed it yet. You may not like your present circumstance, but God can use you in it. If He is not using you in it, He is using it in you! Now is the time to give thanks for the peculiar work He is performing right where you are in life. God has revealed His will clearly that we should always be thankful: “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1Thess.5:18).

While we wait

Don’t make the mistake of slipping into idleness and doing nothing just because God hasn’t revealed anything yet. Until He reveals specific direction, be faithful to serve Him with what you know now. “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much” (Lk.16:10). If we are faithful to Him in the present situation, then He will entrust us with more. But why would He call us to greater works if we are idle with what we have now?

This doesn’t mean that someone has to feel trapped in a present situation if there is a strong desire to leave. I believe God reveals His will to us through the desires He places in our hearts. If there is an open door, go for it. But while the doors are closed, encourage yourself by believing that God will open them when the time is right.

Door number 1, Door number 2, or Door number 3?

What about the times when there are open doors, but no clear leading? Or the times when a decision must be made before a certain date and there is still no leading? In these times, it is wise to seek the advice of others: “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Prov.11:14). If there is still no leading favoring one choice over another, try to find at least a 1% leaning in your heart for one and go with it. Fret no longer and commit your choice to the Lord: “Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established” (Prov.16:3).

I believe the Lord uses our desires to move us, but our desires must first and foremost be Him. If our main desire is to delight in Him, He will give us the desires of our hearts (Ps.37:4). Eventually His will will be revealed. And while we may not know at the moment which way to go, it is comforting to know that He is going with us. “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matt.28:20).

2 thoughts on “How to Know God’s Will

  1. Good article Rick. Really helpful & encouraging as always. I would add one more piece to the waiting game. You said don’t sit around and do nothing while you wait. It is worth remembering 1 Cor 58 which ends by saying, “…always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” Whatever we do in the Lord’s name has value and is not in vain…while we wait to find out His will.
    God bless.

  2. Thanks John. Agreed. That makes it extra special- to know that even the waiting time is significant, and that nothing is in vain.

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