Are You Supposed to Know ‘God’s Will’ for your Job?

Jerome_doors_squareThe other day my friend asked a rather blunt and personal question: “Do you think it is God’s will for you to be at the company you’re with right now?”

What I wanted to say was, “Well, duh. I’m working there, aren’t I?”

In other words, how else could I have possibly ended up in this place unless God had somehow greased the wheels? I don’t know how all this stuff works, theologically speaking, but I have to give him some credit for my current life circumstances.

I am not one to obsess about these kinds of things, but truthfully it is difficult to know minute by minute whether or not we are in that exact bull’s eye of what we think of as “God’s will.” When you start unraveling the layers of choices and chances and serendipitous events that lead us to any particular decision, the thought that we each are supposed to have only one magic track to be riding on can become oppressive. Especially when things are not going so well. Then it becomes much more convenient to consider that, well, perhaps God had a much more fulfilling and happy plan in mind for you. Suffering isn’t supposed to be part of God’s will, is it?

Sometimes it seems rather presumptuous that any of us could claim an inside track to understanding God’s universal omniscient plan. I mean, once you start parsing out those judgment calls, when does it end? If you know his will for your job, then what about your plans for the weekend? The church you attend? The cup of coffee you just poured? Was that in his will? The danger in searching for God’s predetermined will behind every rock becomes a never-ending trail of second-guessing.

That being said, I must admit there have been moments of clarity in my life . . . specific situations when I knew—absolutely, beyond a doubt, at the deepest spiritual level—that God had me in a very specific place doing the exact work I was supposed to be doing.

This does not happen very often.

I remember, while working for a time as a consultant with a business in leading the owners through a particularly delicate issue, I’d be sitting at the airport at the end of the week waiting for my flight home, thinking, “This is exactly where God wants me right now.” I felt I was contributing to a greater purpose beyond myself, doing work that would impact this business for years to come. I was riding a wave of momentum, the divine energy of a billion decisions and circumstances and molecular orbits that led me directly to that specific situation. It was electrifying.

But soon enough, the gig is up, and it’s back to the usual routine of not knowing, groping in the dark, making it up as we go. Moments of spiritual lucidity are great, but all that in-between time? Well, I guess it’s up to us to figure it out.

“I believe God’s will is more about our character, our relationship with him and with other people,” I finally answered. “Not so much about slogging through the details.”

I think God would be fine with my choice of any number of job situations as long as I retain a sense of delighting in Him and perservering and being faithful and trusting—these are the things that we can know for certain.

Perhaps there are multiple paths of “God’s will.” Truly, there is no way of knowing how all of the small moments and huge decisions work their way into this tapestry of goodness and sorrow we call life. We can, however, be grateful for those few points of light along the way, and the grace that carries us from clarity to clarity. That is enough for me.

Image by Jerome. Used with permission. Sourced via Flickr.

About J.B. Wood

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