“God has a specific will for my life” is a teaching that has wreaked havoc on countless Christians! It has left believers paralyzed, afraid to make a single decision without a divine sign from heaven. It has led others to quit after failing in what they thought was God’s will. It has even led some to walk away from a God who they think led them down a path to heartache, bankruptcy, and brokenness.
When these broken people come into our offices or our churches we pastors have told them, “Pray harder. Listen better. God has a message for you.” I think this is spiritual malpractice and I’m sorry for the times I’ve done it.
I’m tired of fatalistic faith and poster platitudes. If God is in control, why are there so many choices to make? If it “must have been God’s will” when I failed, why should I even try? If “I can do all things through Christ,” then why can’t I fly? We live in a world that is so real and demands so much from us. Yet, when we come to church we’re told, “Don’t worry - God’s got this covered.” Try signing that on a check.
The truth is this - God has a will, a plan. He wants us to decide to get involved in his plan for the world. He has made each of us unique. He loves us. He knows the number of hairs on our heads! He wants us to use those heads to think, pray, study, and decide.
In our city we have greenways - paths cutting through parks, neighborhoods, fields, and some back alleys. They’re narrow, but clearly marked. There is a map showing which path you must take to get to your desired destination. In order to get to your desired destination you follow the path leading there, you don’t ask for a special path. God’s will is a clearly marked path leading all people to a singular destination.
This desirable destination is heaven. Scripture is our map, showing us God’s revealed path to that place. Jesus calls this path the “Narrow Way” and early Christians were called “Followers of The Way.” They were called this because they were following Jesus’ path to the Father! They weren’t asking, “What’s God’s special path for my life?” because they knew God had one path. There is only one path, only one way; it’s time we got on it and followed Jesus.
This path is straight and narrow, but it cuts through cities, neighborhoods, fields, and some back alleys. It runs through factories and farms. As we walk this path we will encounter others who are looking for the path. Our job is to show them the way. God’s path isn’t a quiet contemplative walk in the secluded forest, but a greenway cutting through cities - my city and your city.
This might be a different way of thinking about God’s will, but it is very biblical. I discovered it when I asked, “How did the apostle Paul follow God’s will?” I read through his biography in Acts and each of his letters. I made note of all the times he made a decision, talked about a decision, or discussed God’s will. Throughout this series I’ll reference my study of Paul’s life and letters as an example. He faithfully followed God’s revealed path to the end. I’ll fill in some of the blank spaces with other scriptures to provide a little more light on this difficult subject. I’ll also try to do my best to be honest about my own walk on this path and the times I’ve strayed. I hold up my own walk not as an example to follow but as a testimony of God’s grace.
First we need to define God's revealed path. We’ll spend some time deconstructing false ideas about God’s will and then reconstruct a better understanding. We'll discover useful tools God gives us to navigate his path. He blesses us with prayer, scripture, brains, hearts, and each other to help us follow this narrow way. I pray this provides us a practical guide to living all of this out.
This is simply one traveller’s notes about the path we are all trying to walk. I hope it helps other travellers navigate life and live with confidence in the will of God. God’s will for your life is revealed as the prophet Micah said, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8) Let us together humbly walk, God’s perfect path of love and mercy. He has revealed it to us and invited us to walk it with him. Let’s get started.