How do you determine God’s desired direction for your life? Oh what a challenging question to those of us who want a cut and dry answer as to what we are supposed to do, who we are supposed to be with, and sometimes even where we should eat lunch!
Back in college, I attended an event hosted by Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) and the main point was the question we are addressing currently. The speaker had us create this outline, and it has been in my Bible ever since (for many reasons, which I’ll explain later).
Let me walk you through it.
First you have to start with The Word of God.
- For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.(Hebrews 4:12 ESV)
- Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
(Psalm 119:105 ESV)
You have to start here, because the only infallible word you will find is the Word of God, and all things can be measured against this. Of course, there are grey areas and things we don’t understand, but you have to have a good understanding of His Word to truly understand His desire for your life. God has spoken to us! Don’t tell me you don’t know what He’s saying, because you already have His words. Read them.
Next, have you spent considerable time in Prayer over the matter?
- In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.
(Luke 6:12 ESV)
- “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8 ESV)
I would add fasting to this as well. I’ll write more about this later, but the purpose of prayer and fasting is not to change God’s mind about what He has for you, but to align your heart to His. The more you seek God, the more you will grow and understand. You have His Word already, so have a conversation.
After (and while) you have searched the Scriptures and prayed, seek Wise Counsel.
- Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.
(Proverbs 19:20 ESV)
- The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.
(Proverbs 12:15 ESV)
I love Proverbs 12:15. Even a fool is right in his own eyes. Isn’t it so true? We can justify anything, Biblical or not, to make it suit our desires. You can even twist the Bible into saying what you want it to say if you take things out of context. Find someone older, wiser, and who has been a Christian longer than you have and talk with them. Ask them to give you their honest thoughts and advice about the situation. And be humble enough to listen!
Next, look at your current Circumstances.
- And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled. (Mark 5:15-20 ESV)
- At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—
(Colossians 4:3 ESV)
This is an important one, but there is a reason it is 4th on the list. In Colossians, Paul was in prison. His circumstances literally made it impossible to leave his home, so he was asking for prayer that there would be other opportunities to share God’s word about Jesus Christ.
Growing up, I always wanted to be a missionary over seas. When I was single, this would have been feasible. But to leave my husband and daughter to be a missionary would be not only unwise, but unbiblical as well. My circumstances literally make it impossible. If you are graduating college with $20,000 in student loans as I was, you also have to take that into consideration as part of your circumstances.
And finally (as in this is the last thing you should consider), look at your Desires.
- Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
(Matthew 7:9-11 ESV)
- Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
(Psalm 37:4 ESV)
There is a reason you shouldn’t consider your desires first. Our desires can be tainted, faulty, and even sinful. But you shouldn’t rule them out. God has given us great desires and passions, and he doesn’t just pick the one thing that you would LEAST like to do and say “yep, you are going to go do that!” If you really believe that, you have a long way to go in understanding the character of our God.