Determining God's will for our lives can feel a little like geocaching, like we're going on a treasure hunt. The hard part is, sometimes the coordinates aren't so clear and we're not sure how to find it.
I have wished that God would speak to me like He spoke to Moses or David or Job. I have also wished that he would write it in the sky or on a billboard or send someone to tell me clearly what I am to do. However God doesn't usually use these ways of communicating with us. Yet, God does want us to know His will and does make a way for us to do so.
How do we find the gps coordinates for God's will for our circumstances?
1. Genuine Desire - Cultivate a genuine desire to know what God wants us to do and a willingness to obey Him when we know. Part of the process of cultivation is to come to a place where we have surrendered our own will and desires and we only want what God wants.
2. Study the Bible - As we search for God's will, a good place to begin is searching Scripture. The Bible reveals right and wrong, truth and lies, God's character, and man's character. As we come to understand these things, they serve as a filter. When we are faced with a difficult decision, we can ask which options are most closely aligned with what God has revealed He desires of us.
3. Pray - Prayer is a conversation with God in which we talk to Him and also listen for His response. What do we listen for? Thoughts He sends to our minds, a prompting of the Holy Spirit through words from the Bible, advice from people I trust that rings true, desires of the heart that surface. In that quiet place of prayer, what is God saying to you?
4. Wise Counsel - While the first people that come to mind might be a pastor or spiritual director, others may have much to offer as well. Skilled professionals may be able to offer advice based on their training and experience. Friends who have learned lessons in the School of Hard Knocks and have gained wisdom from their experiences may also offer wise counsel. Counsel from those who share a love for God is helpful, for they are more likely to understand the underlying desire in our search for an answer. However that does not prohibit God from using the expertise of non-believers to also direct us.
5. Desires, Dreams, Abilities and Gifts - God has created each of us uniquely with desires, dreams, abilities, and gifts. As we search for God's will, we want to pay attention to those longings and capabilities. God can use those to direct our path as well.
6. Consolation and Desolation - Consolation and Desolation are terms used by the spiritual fathers and mothers of Christianity. Consolation is an inner sense of life, peace, and rightness, of God's favor. Desolation is an inner sense of death, unease, that something is not right, that God's favor is not in this. One way to get a handle on these is to make a decision and sit with it. Pay attention to how you feel. Do you have a sense of consolation in your soul after you have made this decision? Do you have a sense of desolation? This is a powerful way that our souls communicate to us.
7. Circumstances - One of the most exciting aspects of finding God's will is seeing circumstances work together in an inexplicable way. We've prayed, we've listened, we've sought counsel, we're aware of what our soul is hearing from God, but nothing happens and we're waiting. Waiting. Then suddenly, circumstances start to come together in a way that goes beyond coincidence or human contriving and we know that God's hand is clearing the path He wants us to walk. And there is confidence that this is the path God has for us.
When have you known you had discovered God's will for you?
What confirmed to you or helped you know this was His will?