Graduation and Knowing God's Will
As the calendar page flips to May, the thoughts of many high school students (and their parents) turn to graduation. In just a few short weeks, their high school career will have ended and they will begin a new journey into adulthood, fully equipped with a purpose, a plan, and the means to accomplish both. Ok, so maybe that is a little bit of a stretch. I know that the moment those students walk across the stage to receive their diploma can be filled with as much anxiety as there is relief. Their thoughts are now on what they intend to do with their lives. They have to field question after question from friends and family, “where are you going to college,” “what are you going to study,” “what are you going to do with the rest of your life?” And in a few years the questions become, “when are you going to get married,” “who are you going to marry,” “are you going to have kids?” Trying to answer those questions can pose quite the challenge.
For the Christian student, those questions take on a different dimension. As they think about their college plans, or what career they would like to choose, the question is added to the mix, “What is God’s will for my life?” These students, and their parents, have likely spent a great deal of time in prayer, trying to discern what God’s design is for their lives. It can be a very confusing thing, trying to figure out what God’s will for your life is, so I want to provide you with a few statements about God’s will that I hope will help you on your journey.
1. God has a plan for your life.
That might seem like an obvious statement but sometimes it can tend to get overlooked. Sometimes we need to be reminded that God is in control, he does have a plan for us, and nothing ever catches him off guard. There are a several passages in Scripture that remind us that God knows the details of our lives and knows how things will work out. We are told this in Ephesians 1:11, “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.” We are also told how much of the details God knows in Matthew 10:29-30, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered” (emphasis added). God knows the smallest details of our lives, and he does have a plan for us. That should give us some comfort.
2. You will not always know God’s plan.
This is the part where the anxiety kicks in. We pray and pray and ask God to reveal his will to us, to answer questions, to give us direction, but need to understand that God will not always reveal his will to us in this way. Certainly, there are parts of God’s will that he does choose to reveal to us. Many of those are found in God’s decrees in scripture. If you want to know whether or not it is God’s will that you put false information on your college application to make yourself look better, you can be assured that God’s will is “You shall not bear false witness” (Exodus 20:16). Those things that God has commanded us in his word, are part of his decreed will for our lives.
We can also know God’s will by hindsight. This is probably the most effective way, outside of God’s word, to know what God’s will is. If someone were to ask me if it I thought it was God’s will that I marry my wife, Allissa, my response would be, “Of course it was, because I married her.” If it happened, it was part of God’s will. Did I know that it was God’s will before we got married? I don’t believe that I can say that I knew that it was without a doubt, but I was trusting that God’s will would be revealed through what he allowed to happen.
There are not any formulas in scripture that give us the answers to questions such as “should I choose college X or Y,” or “should I pursue career A or career B,” “should I marry this person or that person.” The best that we can do is to search God’s word for the answers to questions we can be sure of, such as “Does God give each us of certain gifts?” 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4 tells us that he does. “Does God tell me what type of person to marry?” We know that it is God’s desire that we “marry in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:39). So, our focus shouldn’t be on what we don’t know of God’s will but on what we can know of God’s will.
3. God’s will cannot be thwarted.
I give you this truth to try to put your mind at ease. For many, they wrestle with the notion of finding God’s will for their life, and they stress over making sure that they don’t do anything that would be outside of God’s intended will. I want to give you some peace by telling you that you can do nothing that would put you outside of God’s intended will for your life. Now, I should clarify that statement by saying there is nothing you can do, outside of immoral choices, that can put you outside of God’s intended will. To speak to that, I want to share with you an excerpt from Kevin DeYoung’s book, Just Do Something, in which he says:
“We spend most of our time trying to figure out nonethical decisions. When I say nonethical or nonmoral matters, I’m talking about decisions between two or more options, none of which is forbidden in Scripture. Choosing between a career in biology and a career in politics is a nonethical decision, provided—and this is a big proviso—that your motives are right and what you’ll be doing is right. So if your career in medicine means you work as a doctor who performs abortions, that would be wrong, as would a career in politics in which you slander and cheat your way to the top. But if you are motivated by right and doing right, then your career choice is not a moral decision. The Bible simply does not address every decision we must make.
Of course, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be thoughtful in choosing a career, nor that we should ignore how God has wired us or the command to do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). My point is that we should spend more time trying to figure out how to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God (as instructed in Micah 6:8) as doctor or lawyer, and less time worrying about whether God wants us to be a doctor or lawyer.”
So, my point here is that, as long as we are walking with God and seeking to please God, we will not be out of his will. We are told this in Job 42:2, “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” So, our focus in trying to make sure we are in God’s will, should be to remain close to him and know that we always will be. Let that thought be a great comfort to you.
Soli deo gloria,