Find God’s will for your life…or else!

Find God’s will for your life…or else! August 23, 2011

You know what will drive you absolutely bonkers?

Trying to find God’s will for your life.

Or maybe it’s just me. Maybe your Bible has a built in GPS with a direct line to heaven that tells you, in a creepy robotic voice,”Turn right in 300 feet.” “Go to Grace College in 2 months.” “Marry Dave now.” But I know mine doesn’t.

I grew up hearing sermon after sermon, reading book after book, about finding God’s will for my life. The idea was that God has a list of things that he wants me to do, and I had better figure them out or I might end up miserable and/or in the belly of a whale. Is God going to tell me what’s on that list? Don’t be silly! That’d be too easy.  But God does give us hints if we read our Bibles and pray.

And until we figure that out, we had better wait on God.

But we have to be careful- or Satan will trick us into wanting something that’s not God’s will.

So, basically, the message that I took away from high school was this:

If I can’t find it in the Bible, it’s probably not God’s will. But the Bible obviously isn’t going to tell me point blank. I have to read between the lines. It’s like a spiritual scavenger hunt!

If I don’t hear God tell me something, I better just do nothing because I supposed to wait on him. And if I do hear something, I better make sure it wasn’t just Satan talking. How should I know the difference? Well, I don’t know but if I had to guess, I’d say that God’s voice sounds a little like Morgan Freeman’s. So, just make sure it’s not Morgan himself whispering in your ear and you’re good.

And if I actually want to do something, it’s probably not really God’s will. In fact, I should probably do something that I hate and ask God to change my heart.

And if I get it wrong, my life is going to suck forever.  

Complicated, huh?

In fact, it’s kinda the stuff of nightmares and panic attacks and probably also part of the reason I grind my teeth and like razor blades a little too much

Because I’ve never read my Bible and thought, “Willikers! This verse in II Chronicles seems to strongly suggest that I become a music historian. Jolly good.” (I always feel like I should talk like this in a British accent when I read the King James Bible. Am I the only one?)

When my boyfriend asked me on a date, I didn’t hear either God or Morgan Freeman yell down from heaven, “SAY YES!”

But I became a music historian anyway because I…gasp…LIKE music history. And I said yes to Abraham (wow…my boyfriend’s name is Abraham. This kind of kills my whole point, doesn’t it?) because I thought he was attractive and because he liked Queen. And I haven’t been struck by lightning yet.

Here’s the thing: I don’t think God’s will works like that. Not at all.

Do I think the Bible and prayer can give us direction in life? Yes! They are great things that God gave us.

But you know what else God gives us?


Common sense.


Spiritual gifts.


And a way for all of us to live, regardless of who we marry or what college we go to or what career we have.

I don’t think we have to bend the Bible out of shape in order to find God’s will. It’s God’s will for us to love and to forgive and to help others. It’s God’s will for us to live purely and selflessly. We know that.

And I can do that whether I join the Peace Corps or work at Taco Bell.

I cna do that whether I marry Abraham or Isaac or Jacob.

I can do that at Ohio State or at the University of Michigan.

Finding God’s will isn’t so much about what we do with our lives. It’s more about who we live our lives for.

So, wherever you end up in life, serve others.

THAT’S God’s will.

…And if Morgan Freeman is whispering in your ear giving you life advice, well, I really don’t know what to tell you.

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  • YES. Thank you! I grew up thinking the same things you did. It can be so ridiculously confusing to try to figure out God’s will like that. I think there are certain cues we can take from the Bible and from circumstances in our life, but we don’t have to bend ourselves out of shape trying to figure it out the way some Christians expect everyone to do. It’s much simpler than that. Love God, love others. That’s really all you need to know.

    Thanks for posting this. I really needed to be reminded of it!

    • I do wish that Morgan Freeman really gave us all the answers, though.

  • Very Interesting… I had a similar blog in mind. I may need to think some more. But my ponderings were based around Proverbs 16:9. Where is says: ‘In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.’

    And yes, even as a Scotsman I occasionally feel the KJV deserves an English accent.

  • Well, I didn’t necessarily grow up with that mentality, but I *have* often tried to force God to tell me which decision was the right one…whether to stay overseas or go back to a “normal” life in America, whether to go to Singapore for two years or wait a few months before going anywhere, etc. etc.

    I think there’s something in each and every person that wants to know exactly what to do. I think that’s why, even in this day and age, astrology and TV psychics still make so much money. No one likes being uncertain about the future.

    But nowadays, my viewpoint is a little more like yours….much to my chagrin. 🙂

    • hah! I’ve definitely tried to force God to tell me what to do too.

      And I think you’re right. I think everyone wants direction and certainty and so we treat God like a fortune cookie or a magic 8 ball when that’s just really not how he works (unfortunately…it would make life easier, wouldn’t it?)

  • I certainly think that God often gives us hints in the right directions, and that it is important for us to listen to him, but it’s rarely obvious, and I often find that God needs to tell me things multiple times for me to get it through my head. But I really liked what you said about how if you want something then it probably isn’t God’s will and we should just surrender our life to God’s will. And I think that we should…but I think that deep down, God wants what’s best for us, and that very often God’s will is similar to our will, or what our will will be later and that we want things for certain reasons as well and often those passions or desires come from God as well. I know that I’ve loved to write for years, I’ve written thousands of pages and spent hours of time imagining and working. I also have felt a call to serve and to be in the ministry and to dedicate my life to others. Earlier this year I found myself putting aside my desires to write and my passions to write and my dreams around this, out of the idea that my writing was a selfish endeavour and not part of God’s plan for me to serve and I’d have to put that passion on a lower place in my life. But I’ve realized that my gifts and my love of writing also come for God, just as much as my love for service, and that there is a reason for that gift and that passion and that denying that piece of myself is denying a piece of God’s plan as well, even if I don’t quite see how it fits in yet.

    • So true! I definitely think that God gives us the desires that he does for a reason. Some are obviously helping people- others are just making the world a better place with art and continuing God’s creative process on earth!

  • I agree…this concept was especially confusing when I was a teenager/young adult trying to figure out what to do with my life after high school. But then I got married and started reading all the homeschooling/patriarchy books and they laid out my life for me so I didn’t have to wonder about God’s will anymore–my husband’s will was God’s will for me!

    Now I’ve left that behind (not my husband, just the patriarchy) and have reached the same conclusion you have.

    • It was extremely confusing for me my first few years of college- what do I major in? Now, I’m majoring in something I love and have NO idea what to do with it, but the fact that God’s not going to punish me for just doing “whatever comes along” is relieving!

  • I had a great professor at college talk about this very concept. The idea that there is some perfect will of God out there and we just have to pray/read the Bible hard enough and we will find it. He used an illustration in class that likened the will of God to a playground you would take your child to. Most playgrounds have a fence or some type of boundary. So a parent will take their child to the playground and show them the boundary line (which differs based on age and experience) and says “stay within this boundary” however, the parent does not tell the child “first you must swing on the swings for 10 minutes, and then you may go down the slide but you must go down it 3 times before you cross the monkey bars.” any parent that did that would be nuts. instead they tell their child “here is where you need to stay, here are you boundaries, but within these boundaries play on whatever you want for however long you want to play.”

    His point was that God’s will is like that. There are certain boundaries but within that boundary God is saying “go play!” stop worrying about if you are doing it right or if this is the best way to play…just play! if you leave the playground I’ll guide you back to it but otherwise use the brain and wisdom I gave you and GO PLAY!”

    after hearing that I felt so free from then on. I wasn’t going to make a mistake because there was no such thing as the perfect will of God, and since then I’ve tried to just “play” and not worry about being perfect. Anyway thanks for sharing your thoughts and sorry for posting such a book in response =)

    • I LOVE that illustration! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • You just perfectly described my own issues with finding my purpose in life that I had a couple years ago. I’d heard similar preaching from the church I attended shortly after I became a Christian, and it drove me CRAZY.

    No one else in the Bible seems to be on this “spiritual scavenger hunt”, so where did people come up with these ideas? Especially the backwards logic of “if I want to do it then it’s probably not what I’m called to/ if I don’t want to do it then it’s probably God’s will.” Can God call you to things you may not want to do at first? Sure. But that’s not the general rule, and God is also in the work of changing hearts to desire his will, whether it’s the Peace Corps or Taco Bell.

    When God called my husband and I to overseas missions there was no Morgan Freeman voice whispering in our ears telling us what to do (although that would have been kind of awesome)— we prayed, weighed the options, and made a decision. It was a big decision, so logically we took our time (2 years!), but each day in that decision-making process we prayerfully walked in obedience and sought the Lord, and things just came together. It’s almost like he’s sovereign or something… hmm… 😉

    • God? Sovereign? What?! haha. Thanks for sharing your story. 🙂

    • That’s another thing I’ve found, that often God fills us with a sense of calling or duty, that he can fill us up with love for what it is that he wants for us. I’ve heard a few people say the similar things and I know that I had a conversation with God once where I said that if he wanted me to become a minister, I’d become a minister, but I didn’t want to do it so he was going to have to fill me with love and calling and make it clear to me that this was what I was supposed to do, because I’d find a way to talk myself out of it otherwise. Two years later I found myself thinking of one day going to divinity school, and only afterward did I remember that conversation with God and realized he had done exactly that. While I believe that we still have free will and ultimately make our own choices, I still believe that God guides us and often gives us that which we are in need of or opens our eyes to something we might not have seen before.

  • “I don’t think we have to bend the Bible out of shape in order to find God’s will. It’s God’s will for us to love and to forgive and to help others. It’s God’s will for us to live purely and selflessly. We know that.”


    • It would sure be difficult to bend the Bible enough to get it to say “Sarah, be a music historian with emphasis in the romanticism of the New Viennese School” hah!

  • This was the most reassuring post I have read in eons. That was seriously my exact mindset just a few months ago…distraught and frustrated because I felt God had something specific in mind for me and I was just too stupid to figure out my “calling” or too weak to follow what other people thought it was and that I had messed everything up by choosing to major in something else while wondering if i should be with the person I fell in love with because maybe it wasn’t God’s plan for us to be together and I thought some things were signs about that. Which all sounds really silly to me now. Also, I’d never actually heard someone say that things you think are signs from God could really be signs from Satan to trap you (in terms of major life decisions) but I somehow started thinking that on my own anyway…anyway, reading this was really liberating because I do totally agree with you and the way that you explained things and it’s made me rethink some things about my life. Thank you. I’ve spent so much of my life waiting to be enlightened as to what my next step should be and avoiding making decisions until I was sure and I don’t want to live like that anymore. Anyway, sorry for the massive overshare! Keep up the amazing posts.
    – Jenna

    • I’m glad I could give you some clarity! Good luck taking those next steps in life 🙂