What should I major in? Who should I marry? What job should I take? Where should I live? What should I do? The list of questions we ask God are endless. Inquiring minds want to know. At every stage in life we ask a new set of questions. I am asking, should I go to seminary? Where should I go to seminary?
How do we know which path to take? How do we know whether it will honor God? How can we be sure it is the will of God?
The short answer is: we can’t! The long answer is that we can use the Bible, community, prayer, and history to help us figure it out. What do I mean by that? Let’s take a closer look at each of them.
Let’s begin with the Bible. I’ve been studying Romans. Romans has a whole theology lesson for us in chapters 1-11. In chapter 12 Paul changes directions and begins to give us some application. Verses one and two give us what the will of God is. Check my previous post for what that is. The short answer is to obey his commands and love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Paul spends the rest of chapter 12 and 13 explaining how the will of God is lived out in daily life. In verses 3-8, Paul explains that part of the will of God is to build up the church. In verses 9-16 he encourages us to love each other. Verses 17-21 encourage us to live at peace. Starting in chapter 13 in verses 1-7 we are told to respect the law. Finally in verses 11-14, Paul tells us to give up the sinful nature. Biblically we have five questions we can ask ourselves about God’s will in relation to our question.
- Will this weaken or strengthen the church?
- Does this demonstrate love for my brothers or sisters in Christ or does it promote self interest?
- Does the decision promote peace or strife?
- Is this consistent with the law and authorities I live under?
- Is it morally right or is it sinful?
Using these five questions we can determine if it is within God’s will but it still doesn’t mean that it is God’s will. We also need to invite God’s people to help us determine if it is indeed good for us. Seek council from a several different sources. What do your friends think? What do your spiritual mentors think about the decision? Ask them to pray with you and that God would reveal the same answer.
We can also look to history for help. We can ask ourselves if this is consistent with what God has been doing in my life? Is there an obvious pattern that seems to be presenting itself. In my own life I have always been a builder. I loved building with legos when I was a child. As a teenager I turned my creativity to computers and as an adult I am still building but I am now a part of building the kingdom of God.
Finally we should be seeking God through prayer during the whole process. God may say something to us, but we need to make sure it passes the test of scripture, the test of community and finally that it seems consistent with what God has done in the past.
Even with all of these helpful tools, God’s will is still a mystery. We really can only determine his will in hindsight. A good reminder for us is Psalm 119:105 which says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” God wants us to follow him in the next step. He rarely gives us the whole picture. He wants us to follow him daily in obedience of the next step. Let us seek God instead of the plans that God may have for us. Instead of searching for a highway light unto your life, look for lamp unto your feet where you will take your next step.