Surely most of us have looked up into the sky and asked the question, “What is God’s will for my life?”
Generally that question comes at the crossroad of some important decision. Maybe it’s about choosing what to study in college. Perhaps it’s about choosing between this job or that one in this city or that one. Maybe it’s about whether to marry the person you are currently dating. It could even be about whether or not to retire. So we have this crossroad before us, and we want to know if God’s will is for us to choose to the right or to the left.
There are several things that we should do when trying to understand God’s will. We should, for example, look at both of the options before us and ask ourselves which of these choices allows us to more fully embrace what we already know is true about God’s will. Which one of these things helps us, in other words, to live more obediently to Jesus? Which one helps us to be a faithful spouse? Which one helps us to be a more faithful church member? Which one helps us to spread the gospel around the world?
If one option clearly helps us live in God’s revealed will more fully than the other, then the decision becomes clearer. Beyond that, we would also do well to seek counsel from those older and wiser than we are, those that know us and know the Lord. We should pray. We might should also fast. And in the end, we should take all of these things together and simply make a decision and move forward in faith.
But there is one other thing – one very specific thing – that might be helpful to you today if you are struggling to know God’s will for your life.
I would encourage you quite simply to read the Book of James.
That’s it, and here’s the reason why:
James is an immensely practical text filled to the brim with gospel implications. In it you find time and time again the revelation of God’s will for your life:
- Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger (James 1:19).
- Look after those who cannot look after themselves (James 1:27).
- Do not show favoritism (James 2:1).
- Use your words to bless and not curse (James 3:10).
The list could go on and on. True enough, nowhere in James are you going to find the specific answer to your very specific question about God’s will for your life. What you will find, however, are practices that should characterize all of us who have been changed by the gospel. And this is God’s will for your life, too.
In fact, I might be so bold to say (both to you and to myself) that if we busied ourselves in walking in what we know to be God’s will for our lives, then perhaps we would have more clarity on those issues about which we don’t yet know. So if you’re wandering today, read James. He will tell you how to busy your hands in the meantime.
Michael Kelley lives in Nashville, TN, with his wife, Jana, and three children: Joshua (10), Andi (7), and Christian (5). He serves as Director of Groups Ministry for Lifeway Christian Resources. As a communicator, Michael speaks across the country at churches, conferences, and retreats and is the author of Wednesdays Were Pretty Normal: A Boy, Cancer, and God; Transformational Discipleship; and Boring: Finding an Extraordinary God in an Ordinary Life. Find him on Twitter: @_MichaelKelley.