Our new blog series for the year will follow our Wednesday night Engage topics again. The topic for this year is: Your biggest questions about life, faith, and Jesus. We’ve gotten ideas from students about the questions they wrestle with in these areas and will write blogs on them as we go through the series. Some include: suffering in the world, faith and science, and how to share faith without being abrasive. We hope this series will be helpful to you as you continue your spiritual journey. Please add ideas for future posts in the comment section!
How do I discern the will of God?
What career should I pursue? Who should I date? Where should I live? What should I do with my time? Everyone struggles to make decisions in life. Doesn’t it sometimes seem even more difficult to make decisions as a person of faith? There can be a sense of even more pressure to not only figure out what you want to do, but also, and even more critically what does God want you to do! We can fear making a wrong turn, believing that God won’t be there if we make a wrong decision. In working as a campus minister and in my personal life, I’ve seen how heavily this question can weigh on us.
So what is God’s will?
Talk about a huge question! Of course, won’t be able to break down this entirely in a blog post, but here are a couple points I find helpful. First, fundamentally God’s will is not specific to us individually, but common to all of us. God wills for us to love one another, receive his grace, live in the world as he designed it, etc. These are things he wants for all of us and things anyone of us can learn from the Bible.
Second, we put too much pressure on ourselves to figure out the will of God in some situations. Some choices may be amoral. Can you do the will of God as a nurse and an engineer? Of course! Sometimes God doesn’t make some of our choices completely clear. I think God gives us true choice in the matter rather than these always being a right or wrong decision.
Finally, even when we make a wrong choice, God isn’t done with us. In all of my short sightedness, I still make secondary plans in case something doesn’t go how I think it will. God in all of his wisdom certainly continues to work even when we don’t make the right decisions. That’s not a reason to not do a good job discerning! It is a good reason to give yourself more grace. God loves us and he wants the best for us.
3 ways to discern God’s will:
1. Commit your life to Jesus.
Paul says in Romans’ chapter twelve: Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
When we worship God through giving your lives over to God, He transforms our minds. And by the transforming of our minds, we can then better discern His will. It’s simple, if we’re only partially committed to Jesus, then we’re going to really struggle to understand his desires for us.
2. Ask the people around you.
God speaks through the people around us. Who are your trusted mentors and friends? They probably know you better than you even know yourself in some ways. We need others to help affirm who we are and what we’re good at. This helps us think through many of the questions we face. If these friends and mentors also know Jesus, then it’s even better! Then their minds have also been transformed to know the will God so they can more faithfully help discern your life circumstance. The life of faith is a community affair. We really need each other.
Have them ask you questions, affirm you, and challenge you.
3. Fast or do another spiritual discipline that’s out of your norm.
The people of God have always turned to spiritual disciplines in times of confusion and disorientation. Fasting, prayer, Sabbath, and others are ways God gave us to seek out his counsel. They help us create space in our lives for God to speak clearly. We prepare our hearts to listen and trust that he will make clear what needs to be clear.
Discerning the will of God can be scary and difficult. Practicing these things will help you better open yourself up to what he might be saying to you!
Join in the discussion in the comments, what do you think?