I’m going through a transitional season of my life. The kind of season where you’re waiting for clear direction for the what comes next, wondering when it might come, and how you can recognize it when you don’t know what you’re looking for.
I tell myself that I’m looking for God’s Will. Of course, what I usually mean when I’m looking “God’s Will” is what do you want me to do with my life (HINT: euphemism for career decisions). It’s always about finding an answer to a specific question. How secure is my current situation? Is it time to make a change? Should I aggressively pursue another opportunity that I’m not even sure that I want? The list could go on and on. I know you probably have your own list.
Ultimately, I want to make choices that are in God’s will. Choices that will help me accomplish what God put me here to do, be the person I was created to be and bring him honor through all of it. I admit, I often get distracted but I eventually find my way back to that conclusion.
Somehow I manage to forget that God’s will has more to do with HOW I live than it does with WHAT I achieve or accomplish professionally or otherwise.
If we look to the Bible, we find that occasionally people refer to God’s will in scripture as specific direction. For example, Paul says in Acts 18 that he will return to Corinth if it’s God’s will before he leaves for Antioch. He also refers to whether or not it’s God’s will for him to go to Rome even though he makes it clear that he really wants to go to Rome himself.
More often, I find that God’s will is a reference to obeying the law we already know not a revelation of future direction. So seeking God’s will for our lives isn’t some complicated spiritual treasure hunt as we look for randomly placed hints and clues. Instead, Romans 12:2 challenges us: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but 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.” Renewing our mind means getting out of our own head along with it’s preconceived ideas and agendas and putting on God’s way of thinking which in my experience really only comes from reading the word.
Nothing new there, right? I know this. You know this. So, why is it so easy to set it aside and forget or ignore it. When I’m faced with complicated choices, why do I fall back on the assumption that the answers I need are unique and complicated so they must be “out there” somewhere. . .maybe there will be some great epiphany from a billboard as I drive down 65? Surely, it can’t be in a book written so long ago.
I was reading in 1 Thessalonians this morning and was struck by relevance and wisdom in the simple instructions Paul gave them for “how to please God.” These would qualify for the . . . “obey the will of God you already know” category.
1. Exert self control in regard to sexual immorality. We are called to live differently than the world does so that God is honored in our life.
2. Love each other MORE and MORE
3. Make it our ambition to lead a quiet life, mind our own business and work with our hands. The idea being that our boring, ordinary, day in and day out life should win the respect of non believers and further, we should not be dependant on anyone for our living.
4. Encourage one another and build each other up (included: remind each other Jesus is returning so hang in there, warn the idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient WITH EVERYONE, be kind to each other and EVERYONE ELSE.)
5. Love and respect those who work hard in the church and have spiritual authority over us.
6. Live in peace with each other. Don’t pay back wrong for wrong.
7. Be joyful ALWAYS. Pray CONTINUALLY; give thanks IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES, for this is GOD’S WILL
8. Test Everything. Hold onto the Good. Avoid the Evil.
There’s nothing complicated or mysterious about this but we could spend all our time from now until eternity and never perfect them.
Now I admit those instructions for living don’t answer my questions about what to do with my life specifically. Or do they? The only ‘career directive’ is basically do something that you’re capable of doing and do it in a way that is worthy of respect – not respect for our personal benefit but so we draw people to Christ not become an obstacle to Christ. That certainly sets me on a path for finding my answers, I think.
These instructions reminded me this morning that when I’ve been in this position before, I have only found my answers after shifting the focus from my questions without answers to the answers that I don’t question.
I already know I’m to love, be kind and encourage, pray continually and give thanks in ALL CIRCUMSTANCES. Sometimes the only thing to do is live the day that you’ve been given focusing on the things you know and just make yourself NOT focus on the things you don’t. And I’ve found that it is enough, for now. When He wants me to do something different, He’ll let me know but in the meantime, maybe I should focus on basics that tell me to be joyful and let go of the complicated that only brings me anxiety!