DISCOVERING GOD’S WILL FOR OUR LIVES - Trevor Hudson
Some time ago I spent time with a middle-aged man engaged in a struggle to know God’s will for his life. After a lifetime of church attendance, he had accepted God’s outstretched hand of friendship, become a follower of Jesus Christ, and began to live as God’s beloved. But the honeymoon phase of his discipleship-journey was over, and he was wrestling with his first real faith questions.
For more than three weeks he had been praying for God’s guidance about a possible career move. Decisions needed to be made and time was running out. Must he change his job or stay where he was? No specific word seemed to be coming from the Lord. There was a quiet sense of urgency as he described his predicament.
‘What must I do next’? he asked me in his usual down-to-earth no-nonsense manner. ‘I speak every day with God about this decision. I really want to do what God wants. But I don’t seem to be getting any answers. Either from the Bible or from the sermons I listen to on Sundays. Sometimes I really don’t know whether God speaks to us about our decisions. And if God does speak to us, how do I know it is the Lord speaking to me?’
Can you identify with his words? Certainly, I do. When I first committed my life to Christ as a teenager, I was constantly told that by my new Christian friends that I must now let God guide me. They would tell me how God had spoken to them and led them when they had to make decisions in their lives. Listening to these confident testimonies usually left me feeling a little out. God certainly didn’t seem to speak to me in such a clear and unquestioning way. Right from the beginning of my Christ-following journey, discerning God’s guidance became a challenge for me.
It has continued to be so right up to the present moment. Countless times along the discipleship-road I have sought God’s guidance for my life. In all kinds of matters including those relating to the use of my time, where to work, how to respond in conflict situations, what to prioritise in my life, what invitations to accept, how to engage the immense challenges facing us in our country, and many others, I have wondered how the Lord may be leading me into my next step. These moments have raised many different questions about God’s will for our lives to the surface.
As I wrestled with these questions over the last fifty years some fundamental convictions have been forged in my heart and mind. Let me briefly introduce three of them to you right now.
My starting point is that God has a good purpose for every human being on earth. Consider these striking words in the New Testament. ‘For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.’ (Ephesians 2:10) As God’s workmanship, each of us has been brought into existence by a Great Love. Our lives have a unique meaning. God has a specific calling for you and I through which we can grow and contribute in a significant way to God’s kingdom in earth. We really need to let this astonishing good news sink deep into our hearts and minds: Each one of us is called by name.
Our next step is to realise that God is always present and active in each of our lives. Right from our beginnings in our mother’s womb God is continuously at work in the life of every one of us and is always seeking to draw us into a greater fullness of life. This is the clear witness of Scripture. As one example, consider these words of the Psalmist when he writes, ‘For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb’ (Psalm 139:13) And God has not put those knitting needles down! Right this moment God continues to create us and seek to weave his will into the fabric of our being.
My third conviction is that the God of the Bible is the God who speaks. We can see this throughout Scripture. When we read the opening chapters of Genesis. God gave clear instructions to Adam and Eve and, despite their refusal to listen, continued to reach out to them with grace and mercy. When God entered a covenantal relationship with Abraham, God told Abraham what to do and where to go. Through the flames of the burning bush, God called Moses by name and outlined for him the tasks he needed to take on. We can give one biblical example after another witnessing to the God who speaks.
For a moment I want you to ponder these three convictions in your heart. Let us go through them again. God calls you by name. God is continuously present and active in your daily life. God speaks to you. These staggering biblical truths invite our response. If they are true, and I believe with all my heart that they are, then we have the responsibility of discernment. We need to discern how God may be calling us, how God is working within our lives, and how God may be speaking to us.
As we embark on this discernment-journey, we can be sure that we will not be left on our own. God gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit, the witness of Scripture, the community of faith, our own reasoning capacities, and many other gifts as wonderful aids to guide us along the way.
Discovering God's Will For Your Life: A User's Guide To Discernment – 9781415342756