I spoke at a retreat this past weekend for the young adult group of a nearby church. It was neat seeing a different manifestion of God through the unique interactions within that group so I definitely appreciate the opportunity to be part of that weekend. I spoke on living in God’s will for our lives, and it was a good time exploring together our callings.
Figuring out God’s will for our lives isn’t so easy, is it? Even just a couple years ago I wouldn’t have imagined I would be in seminary, preaching, and dabbling in book writing. As Christians we want to live for God. It’d be nice if He made it nice and clear what we should be doing. But perhaps it’s not so clear so that we can become adults spiritually and choose for ourselves to follow after Him, just as parents shouldn’t be planning out the entirety of their children’s lives.
I’m reading Gordon Smith’s Courage and Calling: Embracing Your God-given Potential, and it’s been pretty helpful. He offers three ways to think about our calling (loc 26):
1. God’s general call to follow Christ: God desires no one to perish, but everyone to come to repetance through relationship with His Son Jesus (2 Peter 3:9). This is a calling that we have to respond to first and foremost before trying to make sense of anything else about our lives. Our Christian doing comes out of our being, out of our identity as children of God. If we miss this, then we’ll be trying to find our identity elsewhere, which will turn any good endeavor into an idol that we worship instead of God.
2. God’s specific will for you: Generally speaking, God’s will for us can probably be summed up as “Love God, love your neighbor, grow in Christ-likeness, and advance the Gospel message.” But how that plays out looks different for each person since we are all created and gifted uniquely to carry out God’s kingdom purposes. When we are living this out, then we are living out fully what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Figuring this out is tough, and it involves a good grasp of Scripture, a personal relationship with God, and the input of the faith community. But sometimes, actually carrying it out once you know it is even tougher.
3. God’s immediate will for you: As we wait to finally “grow up” and do God’s will, it’s easy to neglect what we’ve been called to right now. Whatever stage of life we are in there are associated responsibilities that we are to be faithful to. If we are students, then we are called to deligence in our studies. If we have a job, even if it’s an in-between job, we are called to excellence in our work. If we have a family, then we are called to be involved in our kids’ lives and tend to our marriages.
While God doesn’t make clear to us the specific career we should choose, He makes quite clear how we ought to live on a daily basis. Many commands in the Bible have to do with everyday living, how we are to treat one another, and because of what Jesus has done on the cross, everything we do takes on eternal significance. Why? Because everything we do will either bear witness to the Gospel, or malign it, either make it attractive to non-believers, or push people further away from God.
As we are figuring out our future path, let us not neglect what God has entrusted to us now, and that includes a daily growing in Christ-likeness. Some people like Abraham and Paul were clearly called for a certain task. If that’s you, you better obey. But many were simply serving faithfully and God quietly redirected their steps. Like David who was just tending sheep when a prophet came along (1 Samuel 16). Or Timothy just serving at church, catching the eye of Paul (Acts 16). Sometimes through obedience in the small things God will bring clarity to the big things, so let’s pay extra attention now to what we know we should be doing.
How have you gone about figuring out God’s will for your life?