Over the past few months, more than ever before, I have been grappling with the issue of God’s will for my life. There are two reasons for this. First, I am right now at a crossroad in my career. I don’t know whether it is God’s will for me to keep serving in the place where I currently live, or if I should move on. And if it would be God’s will for me to move on, where would He want me to go? Work in another place, or go back to school for further studies? Second, a close friendship that I had treasured for a very long time (and that seemed to be God’s will for my life) fell apart. It left me confused about all those times I was so convinced that it was God’s will for me to stay in it. Does this sound familiar?
Knowing God’s Will
I am like any Christian who would like to do God’s will—which is, following Paul, “good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2). In his book The Mystery of God’s Will, Charles Swindoll points out that “in our most thoughtful, mature moments, we want to do His will.”1 So the issue for me has not been whether or not I want to do God’s will; the issue has been how do I know it with absolute certainty?
This can be a very broad and daunting subject. Similar to my own questions, some are interested in knowing God’s will as they choose a career. Others ask for God’s will as they think about marriage and a life partner. However, I wish to focus on how Christians can understand God’s will for their lives in broader terms. What does it really take in order for this to happen? And, disclaimer first, this article will not answer all our questions related to finding God’s will, because there are not always straightforward answers.
Starting the Search
Scripture provides many references regarding the question of understanding God’s will for our lives. For this article I would like to note the perspective that Romans 12 brings to the discussion. While it is not an exhaustive (or systematic) discussion, it is nonetheless a good starting point.
Through Romans 12 I have come to understand that it is necessary to have a sustained genuine conversion experience before we can begin to understand God’s will. This continuous conversion experience ought to be facilitated by fully engaging our God-given gifts in ministry.
Romans 12, particularly the first two verses, is a very familiar chapter to many. Paul offers two important keys to discovering God’s will. He starts off by inviting his readers to “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (verse 1). Have you ever wondered what Paul meant here? As you read the entire chapter, you will discover Paul is talking about using talents and gifts that God has given us. From verses 5 to 8 he admonishes the church to accept the diversity of the gifts that have been given and to use them in love. He writes: “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them . . . in proportion to our faith” (verse 6).
Therefore, while we are waiting to discover God’s will for our lives, we should not stop using our God-given talents and gifts to advance His kingdom and for His glory. God’s will is not revealed to those who sit and wait. Rather, it is revealed to those who are active in ministry and putting to use those gifts that God has given them. Swindoll affirms this, suggesting that “following the will of God requires faith and action.”2 Ellen White also highlights this important principle, stating that “action pervades the whole creation, and in order to fulfill our mission we too must be active.”3
Second, once we are fully committed in His service, it is in this commitment that we experience a sustained conversion through the transformation of our minds; for Paul continues: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may provewhat is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (verse 2).
The phrase “that you may prove” seems to imply that a condition has to be fulfilled in order for something else to happen. The Greek word that Paul uses for “transformed” is metamorphoo, from which we get the word “metamorphosis.” This term implies a fundamental change. Not one that is superficial, but one that affects the person completely. According to Paul, we get to prove or know the will of God after we have been changed.
Just as a butterfly goes through a metamorphosis from being a caterpillar to being a mature butterfly, our minds need to go through a similar change. This happens as we engage our God-given talents and gifts in service. It is hard to imagine well-balanced Christian growth without using our talents and gifts for God.
In the Epistle to the Ephesians, while addressing the subject of using spiritual gifts in relation to spiritual growth, Paul sought to emphasize this fact when he wrote: “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, . . . till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-13).
In summary, God’s will is revealed to those who are growing spiritually in Christ through the use of their God-given spiritual gifts. Spiritual understanding takes place in action. Action produces the spiritual growth that is needed to recognize spiritual insights.
I remember a program on Hope Channel called Really Living. The program featured a couple who, at that time, was serving in an African country as medical missionaries. I may not remember all the details of their story, but what certainly stuck with me was the fact that they both met there as singles, answering a call of God in their lives. They not only answered God’s call, but also found a suitable marriage partner in the process. While they may have had cultural differences (she was from Europe and he was from the U.S.A.), they certainly found a lot in common by the mere fact that they both had shared interests and a similar divine calling. This certainly may not be the experience of every Christian, but it may well serve as a good example of people who find God’s will while actively using their gifts.
As you seek to know God’s will, there is one question you need to ask—at least according to Romans 12: Are you growing in Christ through fully utilizing the gifts that God has given you now while you seek His will for your life?
1 Charles R. Swindoll, The Mystery of God’s Will (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Inc., 1999), p. 56.
2Ibid., p. 57.
3 Ellen G. White, Education, p. 214.
Obed Onyiego Soire, originally from Kenya, was working as an English teacher in Japan while writing this article. He is a volunteer youth pastor in Coffs Harbour Seventh-day Adventist Church, Australia.
Read 849 times Last modified on Wednesday, 25 March 2015 03:24