Tag: God’s will for your life


Upon conversion the believer begins his or her walk of faith in the self-assurance that God’s operation in his life will be predictable, safe, and subject to certain human standards. The opposite is true…


Before someone out there burns me at the stake for making such a heretical statement, I want to declare that after decades of living under my own profession of faith, I still believe that God is always faithful, that he is always good, and that he is always right.

I wrote a post a few years ago titled “What Is God’s Will for your life-Really?”* It was in answer to a claim I’d heard many times in the first few years of my Christian life, usually made by Christian ministers, to the effect that God does indeed have that “wonderful plan” for each and every believer, and it’s just up to us to discover what it is and then get to work on it.



I spent I don’t know how many years attempting to find out what that divine plan for my life was. After all, if you’re not careful, you miss out on the whole deal-right? I learned the hard way that God’s will for us is to walk in faith and obedience, and to do what’s on our heart to do, what he’s gifted us with, and what we are best at-so long as it doesn’t conflict with his word. He will then steer our lives, whether we know what’s supposed to happen or not. And even when we get things wrong, somehow God is still at work.

God’s will for your life, most fundamentally, is that you be conformed to the likeness of His son Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). Though he may have a specific plan, it’s not necessarily going to be anything like what you expected or wanted, and it may not always seem all that wonderful. Just think of all those poor Christians recently martyred or driven from their homes in Iraq and neighboring countries.

The worst thing to do, the worst way to think, is that God must or will arrange the parts of your life just as you think he will or should. You may be heading for paralyzing disappointment if you wait for that to happen. When he doesn’t make life happen the way we want it to, we’re prone to being frustrated with him, to losing faith in his goodness or his love for us, or even to lose faith and hope altogether.


Perhaps the most striking Biblical example of this, shall we call it, “difference of opinion”, between His will and ours is seen in the account of the life of Job. Job’s life was going smoothly and very successfully, until Satan requested to test his faith. God granted that request (Job 1:12). We could discuss the possible reasons for God’s permission some other time: the interesting fact for our subject is that God did allow Satan to test Job-and that very severely. Not only so, but we might wonder if God actually instigated the test in the first place, since Satan wasn’t interested in harassing Job until God said to him:

“Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” (Job 1:8).

An interesting New Testament parallel is Jesus’ observation that Satan had “asked” to sift Peter like wheat (Luke 22:31 NIV. The word is translated “demanded” in the ESV; “desired” in the KJV). In other words, Satan wanted to cut Peter down to size and to see if his professed faith really had any substance. It’s not clear whether Satan was granted his request concerning Peter, though Peter certainly went through plenty of trials in the rest of his life. Notice that in both cases Satan had to make the request-he isn’t a loose cannon doing whatever he wants to do.


In the events following Satan’s request to test Job Job’s life was turned upside down, and before long he’d convinced himself that God didn’t care for him, and worse, that God himself had thrown Job’s life into turmoil out of spite.

However, there was one thing that Job was right about, as God himself later pointed out: God had his own mind and he did his own thing without any reference to Job’s will or plan. Finally he acknowledged that God knew what was best for him and for the entire world. He recognized that God knew far more than he could hope to understand, and that essentially he knew nothing.


For the first few years of my Christian life I looked to the Bible to try to understand God. More recently, while I still read my Bible knowing that it’s His message to us, I’ve also been attempting to see how God acts by looking at how he’s been at work in my life and in others’ lives. Most of you will know that we can only understand God to a limited extent. Attempting to understand all that God allows and all he does is as futile as trying to walk to the sun: it’s impossible. And why would it not be? He’s eternal, omniscient, omnipotent and uncontainable, and we are most ephemeral, and extremely limited in knowledge and power. Earth

Scripture gives us the clearest view of God’s nature and character that we can have in this limited existence. I can see from scripture, as played out in my own life that God is indeed Love. He is faithful, he’s merciful and he’s all-knowing. He’s patient and kind. On top of that, scripture gives a powerful explanation for the problems and suffering that all humanity faces. It tells us why we’re here, what the meaning of life is and why we die. It tells us a little of God’s plan for the future, and how we can be a part of it.

But sometimes, as poor Job found out, and as we all find out sooner or later, our questions go unanswered. While Job suffered perhaps as much as any human has ever suffered, we all get a taste of that very same bewilderment and sense of complete impotence that he suffered. It’s at such times that we have only two alternatives: we can either stop walking with our Creator, or we have to let God be God. In those moments, days or years we learn, as I believe God wants each one of us to learn, that He is God, and we are not. God does what he wants, when he wants. He has every right to be who he is, and there’s nothing we can do about it.

God is The eternal being. In stark contrast we are mortal dust, created by Him and for Him, totally fallible, and totally dependent on him. Any other attitude is a sinful attitude, and stops us from discovering the truth about our existence.




Many of us fail to live our lives to the full. Countless people reach old age wishing they had done things differently, and that they had made more of their time on earth…


Here’s the second half of my rant on the subject of boredom. It’s the biggest half (joke). I wrote in the shortest half that I’m convinced vast numbers of us are bored, and this boredom drives us to attempt to fulfill our lives in many ways, some of which are wasteful or wrong in the eyes of our Creator.

Our society has reduced the human mind to a manageable size in order to maintain a controllable populace, while at the same time convincing us that life is getting richer. As I wrote last time, our modern world seeks to profit from the problem it creates, taking natural freedoms and real, free, God-given paths to fulfillment from us, and then providing endless forms of what it calls “entertainment” at our expense to fill in the gap.

Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10 ESV).

What did Jesus mean by “abundant life”?



We tend to expect that a “real” and a “loving” God should be at our disposal twenty-four hours a day, like some supernatural Jeeves, fulfilling our every desire, fixing all our problems and just generally facilitating our own idea of happiness. This, according to our carnal minds, would be abundant life. However, you only have to look at the lives of some of the richest people around, who have all the time in the world to enjoy their wealth, to see that money and privilege don’t automatically provide happiness, contentment or a trouble-free life. And to make it worse, “The eyes of man are never satisfied” (Proverbs 27:20).


When it appears God has failed to deliver all the goodies we think a loving God should deliver, and failed to perform all his duties as we see them, we’re prone to giving up on him. I’ve written extensively about this subject, particularly as it relates to the whole question of suffering. Here we’re being more specific and considering fulfillment and the enjoyment of life.

What did Jesus mean by “abundant life”? When we read the gospels and particularly the letters of the apostles, we don’t read about a Church having a swinging time, overcome by ecstasy and euphoria. In fact, if we look at the life of Jesus himself- our example-we see that he was “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief”. Then he was crucified. Perhaps this “abundant life” we’re promised doesn’t necessarily include all the good things we want out of this world: perhaps it means something else.


I think abundant life in this context means that we have an inner joy of communion with our God, with the peace and hope it brings, and a spiritual life which will never end. It could be the subject for an entire series of posts. I just want to make clear here that the Christian life is not always one of earthly delights and delirious deliciousness in the way people who don’t know God would expect. It may instead be one of suffering and persecution, as it is in many parts of the world. Our consideration today is about whether, and if so how, we who are (in theory) free to pursue life, liberty and happiness should actually go about doing the same.


The first answer must be a scriptural one, because we’re told that we are to “die to self”. We’re supposed to pick up our cross daily and follow him, and to serve our brothers and sisters. Paul said, We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up” (Romans 15:1-2 NIV).

The Christian life isn’t about fulfilling our own needs, but how we can minister to each others’ needs. In that way we fulfill our obligation to our God, we express the love we’re supposed to be expressing, and as a result we find deep meaning in life for ourselves.

Having made that priority clear, I’m convinced that God doesn’t expect us to sit around groaning and sighing for the rest of the day in order to “die to self”. Dying to self doesn’t mean we have to be miserable, morose and moribund to be a good Christian, or that we have to be straight-laced, bored and boring: it means we put God and others first before ourselves. And don’t forget that joy is one of the fruits of the spirit: it’s for the believer (Galatians 5:22). We gain joy (the real thing-not that elusive stuff the TV waves in front of our noses) by knowing Him and being in a proper relationship with Him. However, on top of that God has provided many ways and possibilities for us to enjoy life.



When I first became a Christian I was so intent on parting myself from my former way of life and all that I perceived to be “of the devil”, that I purged myself of almost everything I possessed, everyone I knew, and all I had previously enjoyed. I cut myself off from all my former influences and pleasures. Friends thought I had been brainwashed by some American cult (cults from anywhere else in the world were acceptable). They were so “concerned” that they avoided me like the plague (a little irony there)…perhaps a hint that I was actually on the right track, because:

What fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14).

Having been a bass player by profession, I sold my bass and my amp. I detached myself overnight from my musical and theatrical contacts. I disposed of all my books, memorabilia, photographs, and my entire record collection-all the music I had loved, enjoyed and been musically influenced by for years.

All I had left was a bed and a Bible, and I was considering getting rid of the bed…



GREY AREAS (UK spelling)

Two years later I began to swing back the other way. Now, many years on, I find myself, without any feelings of guilt, enjoying things which some Christians would consider unacceptable, ungodly, far too worldly, and maybe even damnable. I regularly thank the Lord for what he allows me to enjoy and blesses me with.

No, I’m not one of those people who gets high every day and has a string of live-in lovers. Such things are among the “black and the white” as far as I’m concerned, the things we can know are wrong in the eyes of God, and as Paul said:

“…those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

I’m speaking of things which are not forbidden or perhaps not mentioned in the Bible, but which some people think are out-of-bounds for Christians: things sometimes called “grey areas”:

“Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves” (Romans 14:22).

That’s a verse some people would like to have removed from the Bible. But grey areas do require some thought and prayerful Biblical consideration. We shouldn’t allow anything which will control us or harm us:

Everything is permissible for me-but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me-but I will not be mastered by anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12).

Paul counseled the consideration of others as our ultimate guide in those grey areas:

Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak… “…so this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge” (1 Corinthians 8: 9, 11).



I believe in raging against the mold our own society attempts to squeeze us into. We all have different DNA. We’re all different in character for a reason: let’s tap into that difference, and use it for God’s glory first, and then for our own satisfaction. This applies to our careers, our pastimes and hobbies, our relationships, and to all of life. Some people are so busy trying to be different in the way they think the world will be impressed by that they’re actually all “different” in the same ways. They completely miss and mask their own, true characteristics. For goodness’ sake-for God’s sake-be yourself.

Who gave humans the capacity to laugh, to run, to see the world’s beauty, to make love, to read, to create, to imagine, to play, and to do so many other things? It wasn’t the devil, and it certainly wasn’t Charles Darwin or the process outlined in his theory. God made man (men and women) in his image: we’re able to do what we can do because of His loving, incredible design.


Look for the things you love to do and which are not ungodly, and do them to the best of your ability. This includes your career. Don’t spend years trying to discover “God’s will for your life”. His will is simple: that you be conformed to his Son. He may well have a specific plan for you: he will make it happen without you having to know in advance what it is. He has given you talents and gifts. He has given you a love for something-a passion. Do it to the best of your ability, and God’s will will be manifest in your life.

Life is to be lived: family; love, romance and sex (in its proper place and form). Adventure: why would God tell man to “fill the earth” if he didn’t want us to explore it? Challenge, learning, friendship…it can all be within his will, and it can all be enjoyed to the full. The world is a big, beautiful place, and life can, at times, be amazing: make the most of it.

If the Bible doesn’t condemn it; if doesn’t hurt you or anyone else; if it doesn’t damage or neutralize your faith-do it, and enjoy it.



I saw a sign which read:

Am I being over-cautious by weighing this statement before taking it to heart? Is it really a good idea to jump at every opportunity?


I can easily recall many occasions when I’ve taken the plunge and regretted it, sometimes for many years. I also remember many incidents of hesitation and inaction for which I’ve later punished myself repeatedly. Yes, I’ve literally kicked myself for not taking a golden opportunity (a response just as foolish as self-deprivation through timidity). “He who hesitates is lost” they say-whoever “they” are. I used to be indecisive but now I’m not so sure…

I’ve made some gigantic mistakes in my life because I acted impulsively. That’s a polite way of admitting that I was stupid. More recently I’ve taken an over-cautious approach to opportunities out of fear of making another blunder.
I think the secret to this conundrum is the cultivation of wisdom, through the one who invented the stuff:

“Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).

Take this wisdom, as found in the Bible, to heart. Couple it with faith, and when those golden opportunities come you stand a good chance of making the right decision and never regretting it. After learning from any past mistakes forgive yourself and go on.
And what about the “godly counsel” we hear so much about? If only it were a dependable option! If only all those people who are so quick to tell you what to do, or what they insist the Lord told them to tell you to do, had actually sought that same wisdom we need to be seeking! Yes, listen to them and weigh up what they say. But far more importantly, compare your options directly with the word of God, and judge what your own heart tells you by the truths you find there.

I’m convinced-I know-that God is not a killjoy: listen to the birds, watch the clouds blowing around the mountains, tickle a baby, and look at the beauty all around us. God is far from boring. He doesn’t require his followers to live dull, uninspiring, uneventful lives. So if the proverbial plunge seems like a good option, and if it doesn’t contradict his wisdom, and if it isn’t going to hurt anyone…take it!



In the list of the top ten things Christian ministers say which I would argue with is this one:

“God has a wonderful plan for your life”.

Here are a few more:

“Satan always attacks you at your weakest point” (I’ve disproved that one);

“God wants you to be successful” (I disproved that one too);

“Jesus was a man’s man” (because he worked out at the gym for two hours every day and took protein supplements, of course);

“You can’t go it alone as a Christian”. Unfortunately the truth is that you have to go it alone sometimes in order to keep your faith.

The phrase “God has a wonderful plan for your life”, and others which are related to it, appeal to our selfish twenty-first century human nature, and we immediately begin to rub our hands with glee and think to ourselves, “Oh goody! There’s a cosmic fairy godmother who is just longing to fulfill all my dreams and make my life a wild roller-coaster of fun, success and fulfillment!”

I hate to break this to you who haven’t found out yet, but this assumption could not be further from the truth.

I do not doubt that some people are used mightily by God, that they have remarkable lives and testimonies, and that for some life may even be rich and successful. But for the vast majority of us, life can be very straightforward and uneventful, or even dull. Even if there is a specific plan for you, it may not seem wonderful at all. Many people, including Christians, are just struggling to get by: they work hard in a job which they hate but have to do, or perhaps they can’t even get a job; they struggle with ill health and go from one doctor’s appointment to the next; they are imprisoned unfairly; their relationships are damaged or broken; their spouse makes life miserable for them; their childhood dreams and plans are never realized.

Going even further than that, many people, including Christians, have events or chains of events and situations in their lives which have been so devastating and so disastrous that you could be forgiven for wondering, “Where in the world was God? Why didn’t he show up? Why wasn’t there a happy ending – a miraculous outcome which put everything right?”

In our selfishness we grow up thinking that “if” God is there, he’s supposed to wave his magic wand, to make everything go right for us, to answer all our prayers, to fulfill all our plans and dreams, and to make the world into a beautiful, safe, happy place for everyone so that we can all go about doing just what our little hearts desire. The truth that sometimes only those who persevere in their faith learn is that we are here to fulfill his plans. It is by so doing that we are blessed and fulfilled. We are expected to endure when the going gets tough, not necessarily to expect an easy – out option.

The idea that if God was really there he would automatically fulfill all our plans is false: it’s a lie. Equally false is the idea that God has a plan for each of our lives which will leave us reeling with delight and amazement as we see it unfolding. Even worse is the concept that we have to somehow search for God’s plan for our life, like some needle in a haystack, by divining the signs in a number of ways which are no more Biblical than is the art of tea-leaf reading.

Beware of those who are quick to tell you that the Lord told them what you should do: he’s quite capable of telling you if he chooses, and doesn’t need to go through some self-appointed or organizationally-appointed “prophet”. Sometimes these “prophets” can give the impression that God must be really confused or keeps changing his mind.  Beware also of the notion that if you pray hard and hold your head at just the right angle God will whisper in your ear or send you a letter to tell you which college to go to, which girl or guy to marry, or even which box of cereal to buy. I all but lost my faith in a couple of periods of my life by begging God to give me a yes or no answer on hugely important life -changing decisions: they never came. I later came to realize that God gives us a large amount of free will, and he wishes us – in fact often requires us – to use it. There just may be times, however, when you do sense some guidance – its always good to pray for it.

Also beware of the notion that if things don’t just fall into place in one direction, that must not be God’s plan for you. I once chased a certain girl for over three years, and during that time she made it very clear she had no wish to marry, particularly not me.  We’ve been married for twenty-six years.

Now, I don’t mean to put a wet blanket onto any young fires: keep them burning! Your dreams may well be within the will of God! I don’t believe for a moment that God is a cosmic killjoy. Neither am I saying that God wants us all to go into full-time ministry: he doesn’t. He wants us to “ bloom where we are planted”. There are a million different things you could do with your life. But I do want you to know that you will be far happier in the long run if you don’t make the huge mistake of thinking that God’s will is to fulfill all your desires.

As usual, the way for the Christian to get his or her thoughts straight on any subject is by looking into the Bible. I don’t mean that we artfully snip a verse or a part of a verse out which suits our idea of how things should be: I mean let’s get to the nitty gritty of the matter, to God’s view, and to the truth.


James said:

“Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers…” (James 3:1).

This tells me that your station in life is not pre-selected so that you have to figure out beforehand what God has decided you must do. It sounds far more like a choice of the will, a wise decision based on your character and ablities. Even clearer is Paul’s instruction to Titus that:

“Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives” (Titus 3:14).

This thought is echoed in 2 Thessalonians 3::6-15. We work to pay for necessities and to lead productive lives, not because God has a plan for our personal success or because he has assigned us all specific tasks in building some earthly empire.

There is no instruction to stress and strain to find God’s map for your life.


How many of us have had thoughts or even made prayers along these lines:

“God, if you will just arrange for such-and such to happen, I will love you and serve you for the rest of my life”.

I’m not saying that God will never arrange for such-and such to happen, but in the Biblical scheme of things, this is like putting the proverbial cart before the horse. Scripture has the order the other way around:

“In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:6).

Notice that Solomon didn’t say “…and he will make all your dreams come true”. And don’t forget the qualification: we have to acknowledge him. We have to consider him and his ways in our daily lives and before we make decisions, which should reflect his will and desire.

Again, Solomon said:

“The Lord detests men of perverse heart, but he delights in those whose ways are blameless” (Proverbs 11: 20).

If our hearts (our desires, our will, our way of thinking) are sinful according to HIS standards, he will take no pleasure in our lives or our desires. We may think we are “good”, but does he think we are?

David wrote that:

“…the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish” (Psalm 1:6).

“No good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless” (Psalm 84: 11).

This principle is carried over into the New Testament, where Jesus says:

“…seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6: 33).

Notice that “these things” do not include a Ferrari, the most beautiful girl in the city, or a winning lottery ticket. Jesus was talking about food, drink, clothes: the basic needs of life. That being said, what you may achieve in life just might be beyond your wildest dreams. God has given us talents, gifts and abilities, and imagination. They are there for us to use, but with the right motivation and determination.


Why would God make our paths straight and our lives fruitful if we put him first? The answer is that if we are seeking His ways we will have the right kind of dreams and plans instead of being self-seeking. We will have dreams and plans that He will agree with and be willing to fulfill through us and in us:

“The plans of the righteous are just…” (Proverbs 12: 5).

“…if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask  – we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5: 14-15).

More than that, if we are walking with God in our daily lives, he actually plants in us the right kind of plans and dreams to ask him to fulfill:

“…for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2: 13).

So to get things in the right order and perspective, Paul counsels us to:

“…be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).

Notice that God’s will, his plans and dreams, are “good, pleasing and perfect”. This is in contrast to ours which, if we are not right with God, may be bad, selfish and potentially harmful or even disastrous. Even if our plans are not bad, God might not be be behind them if we refuse to acknowledge him. And it’s not enough to say, “Hey God, remember me? I’m going to do xyz and I need your help so make it work for me”.


Our model is Jesus Christ. What did he have to say about his future and his plans?

“For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me” (John 6: 38).

“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26: 39).

This is the kind of prayer that really gets God’s attention and approval! But look what happened – Christ was crucified, according to the will of God. He didn’t get a Ferrari, or a harem, or a mansion, or executive privileges on the board of any corporation.

And what should be our motivation for doing the will of God in our lives?

“The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2: 17).


Solomon said:

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” (Proverbs 16: 9).

I really don’t think it’s necessary, or even a good idea, to weep and howl and search and scratch and beg for the Lord’s vividly clear guidance in your life. You have a huge amount of free-will and choice, and even if God has something specific for you, you do not have to “know” what he wants you to do before you do it: you will find that if you are walking with him in life, the events, the situations and the people he wants for you will come along anyway. Many Christians want to be modern day Pauls and Peters, and you may hear something like “the Lord told me” from them every five minutes. But If the Lord doesn’t tell you, don’t worry, because from my experience they are no more likely to have a meaningful productive life than you are.

Paul came across such people himself. On one occasion a prophet named Agabus told him that the Holy Spirit warned that Paul would be captured and made a prisoner if he went to Jerusalem. At this warning others begged Paul not to go (Acts 21; 10-12). But Paul had already decided that he was being compelled by the Holy Spirit to go (Acts 20: 22). Listening to wise advice is always a good idea, but in the end, the direction comes from God through you, even if you aren’t aware of it at the time, which leads me to the method by which you can live out God’s plan for your life.

If you seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, your gifts, your passions and your compulsions, carefully aligned with the word of God, will take you in the right direction. If you are gifted or talented in a certain way, see that as a God-given gift or talent, and live to use it and fulfill it. If you have a passion, and it’s not something that’s ungodly according the word of God, then live your life in fulfillment of that passion.

Do not expect life to always make sense – it may not. But if you seek first the kingdom of God, you will be able to look back over it and see that he was there all the time.

If you find that life is not all you wish it would be, then patiently endure, because this is also God’s will.

Most fundamentally, this is God’s plan for you:

Your salvation in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1: 9-11);

Your sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3);

Your witness to the world for Jesus (Matthew 28: 18-20).

God wants you to know his Son and to become like him. This is the plan and the will of God for your life.