Posted: October 22, 2014 by Joshua Knott
What’s God’s Will For My Life?
On October 17th 22 teens and 6 adult leaders traveled to Barboursville, VA to Kerith Farm for a weekend retreat. We feasted, we gamed, we mad-lib-ed, we laughed, we hiked a trail up a waterfall, we worshiped with brothers and sisters at Trinity PCA in Charlottesville and we even got some sleep. In all these things it was truly a joy to spend time with the teens in our congregation. For me, as a pastor, my greatest joy always comes from opening the Word of God and discussing it with our young people. This weekend our focus was on the question, “What’s God’s Will For My Life?” and I wanted to share with you, in brief, the three answers we shared from the Scriptures, with our youth.
Answer #1 – That you know Him, love Him, and become more like Him every day in every way. There’s a tendency for us all to spend more time trying to get things from God than trying to know, love and follow God himself. This desire to get God’s things more than God himself is at the heart of all idolatry and, at times, what lies behind boredom with God’s revealed will and the endless pursuit of God’s un-revealed “plan for my life.” What does Paul say? Philippians 3:8-12 “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith - 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.”
Paul is someone who knows that God’s will is that we know Him and become like Him. Instead of endlessly pursing God to get God’s things, he is heeding Jesus’ admonition to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” What’s God’s will for my life? It’s clearly revealed in God’s word. It’s that we know Him, love Him, and become more like Him every day in every way. As Paul puts it in 1 Thessalonians 4:3, “For this is the will of God: your sanctification.”
Answer #2 – That you be with Him, in glory, forever. If the first answer was related to God’s will of desire, what He wants from us, the second is related to God’s will of decree, what He has done for us. What has he decreed for those of us trusting in Christ? Romans 8:28-30 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” All things includes the suffering of struggling against sin (Romans 6-7), the suffering common to fallen creation (Romans 8:18-23), and the suffering of all those things threatening to destroy us (8:35-39). If God’s will is that He is for us, working all those things for our good, who/what can indeed be against us?
One of the traps common to us all, but especially to young people today, is feeling as though they need to have absolute certainty of the absence of trials and presence of God’s “blessing” before making a decision. With that sort of pressure to figure out which option will be “trial-free” (falsely assumed to be the same thing as “God’s will”) some are understandably paralyzed by fear and inaction. But, if God is working all things, including our struggles, failures and sufferings, for our good, and if God has got our salvation secure in Him, then we are free to fail, to take risks, and to make wise decisions without over-spiritualizing them. God’s will of decree frees us to live bold and decisive lives as disciples and disciple-makers.
Answer #3 – That we have a different aim and ask different questions. If the first is God’s will of desire, the second God’s will of decree, the third is God’s will of direction. Our aim as believers, when given a choice between two equally valid directions is to do either one of them for God’s glory. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Yet, in this, Christians acknowledge they don’t make decisions in a void but in a web of relationships with God, family, church-family, neighbors and self. This means that we ask different questions when making decisions. Here are some of the questions we suggested the youth start asking to help them better discern God’s will of direction in light of God’s will of desire and God’s will of decree.
God Questions. Which of these two
,…will bring God the most glory?
,…will help advance His kingdom the most?
,… “do you want Lord?”
Family Questions. Which of these two…
,…are my parents pushing me towards?
,…will help me most honor my father and mother?
Church Family Questions. Which of these two…
,…will bring me closer to the local church?
,…help me better serve the people of God?
,…do my pastors and elders think is best?
Neighbor Questions. Which of these two…
,…will help me better love and serve my neighbor?
,…will result in my neighbor’s good?
,…will be a better witness to my neighbor?
Self Questions. Which of these two…
,…helps me better provide for myself and those around me?
,…best fits with the way God has made me?
,…would best help me keep the great commission (make disciples of all nations) and the great commandment (love the Lord with all your heart, soul, strength, mind, and to love your neighbors as yourself)?
Perhaps, like our youth, one of those three answers is more challenging or helpful than another. Perhaps, like many of our youth, you have significant decisions weighing on you and now you’ve got some better questions to ask. As you reflect on the answers, questions and truths we discussed on the retreat, please take a moment to pray for the young people in our congregation. Pray they’d be driven to pursue God and His revealed will, rest in His decrees and live wisely for God’s glory in all the directions they take. Once you’re done praying for the young people, pray all those things for the rest of us!
For more on God’s will of direction, read Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Kevin DeYoung’s Just Do Something.