I have spent several years working with middle schoolers, high schoolers, and college students. A lot of changes happen from twelve to twenty, and many of the questions that are important to a middle school student are completely irrelevant to a college student. However, there is one question that pops up in lives of sixth graders and seniors alike. It also seems to be a question that can drive a young person (and many adults too) crazier than almost any other (read more about that here). That question is: What is God’s will for my life?
The will of God is an interesting theme in scripture. Compared to other scriptural ideas it is not a particularly prevalent theme. And when it is discussed, it rarely applies to the question what is God’s will for my life, at least not in the way that we tend to use it today. The bible talks about the decrees of God (they will certainly come to pass), and the commands of God (those things are up to you and me). Both of those speak of God’s will. The bible also talks about individual callings. But you cannot find a scriptural example of one of God’s people asking, “What is God’s will for my life?”
So, when you are haunted by that question you might want to first understand that no matter how much you want that questioned to be answered, it does not seem to be a very important question on God’s list. Before you get overwhelmed by the sting of that realization consider the following. You are both precious and unique to God. He values you more than any of us can really understand. At the same time, whatever it is that he calls you to do could be done by anyone else that he so chooses. That is because God’s will for your life has very little to do with what he is calling you to do, and almost everything to do with who he is calling you to be.
Go and read some of the handful of scriptures that deal with the phrase will of God (Rom 12:2; 2 Cor 7:9-10; Eph 6:6; Heb 10:36; 1 Pet 2:15, 4:2, 4:6, 4:19). Take the time to read the surrounding verses and see if you notice what I notice. There is nothing there about vocational callings. Instead, they all talk to essence of the Christian life and the fruit that it bears. These are the things that are described as the will of God in those verses: having your mind renewed, having godly sorrow and repentance, striving to please God instead of men, endurance, submitting to human institutions (even ungodly ones), not living for the lusts of your flesh, to live in the Spirit, and to suffer.
So, if you really want to know what the biblical answer is to the question, What is God’s will for my life? Look no further. He wants you to live a holy life. He wants you to treat others well. He wants you to be submissive. He wants you to suffer. And he wants you to endure. Encouraging, huh?
Perhaps we wrestle so hard over the question because we don’t want to know what the biblical answer really is. We have replaced the scriptural idea of God’s will for our life with questions that center around our individual comfort and importance, and that’s what really makes us struggle so hard over the question in the first place. Here is the irony. Our struggle with that question is a sign of just how far out of God’s will we are in the first place.