“Dear Fr. Anthony, my name is ________ and I need your help. I have a problem and I need to decide between option A, option B and option C. And I don’t know what to do. I need your help. How can I know God’s will for my life?”
Believe me, if I had a dollar for every time I received a question like that, I’d be a rich rich man.
That’s because it’s the most common question we ask: HOW DO I KNOW GOD’S WILL?
How do I know which job to take?
How do I know what major to choose in school?
How do I know which city to move to?
(and of course, everyone’s favorite) How do I know who to marry?
We all want to know God’s will and we wish we had some type of formula that allows us to know exactly what we should do in every situation. But is that possible? Does such a formula exist? Is it really possible to know God’s will in every circumstance that comes my way? Or is this just something that preachers made up to keep people coming to church?
Before I answer that, I need to first address the underlying assumption by which many of us operate when it comes to God’s will – an assumption that if left uncorrected will make it almost impossible for you to know God’s will. Here goes…
God’s will is not meant to be a MYSTERY; it is meant to be REVEALED.
We often think of God’s will as a cosmic game of hide and seek – a game where God knows all the right answers, but He likes to keep us guessing. We treat the search for God’s will like some kind of Indiana Jones movie – where we search and search and search for the hidden treasure, only to find it narrowly escaping us whenever we get close.
We make God’s will out to be something that only the “spiritually elite” can ever reach, while the common folk like ourselves are just left playing the odds.
Is that how it works? Is God’s will supposed to be hidden? Are we supposed to be frustrated in our search for it? If you ask St. Paul, the answer is a big fat NO!
“Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:17)
As a father, I can safely say that God wants you to know His will. That is the deepest desire of His heart. It’s not supposed to be frustrating and this isn’t a game of hide and seek.
In fact, given that the New Testament repeatedly commands us to view God as “our Father who art in heaven,” I think we can safely come to the following conclusion:
God wants me to know His will more than I want to know His will.
We aren’t talking about a game here; we’re talking about the will of your Father in heaven – His desire, His dream, His perfect plan from before all eternity for your life. What kind of father would hide that from his children?
If your son came to you and asked, “Dad, what class should I sign up for?” or “Which job should I take?” or “Should I marry this person or that person?”… would you hide your will from your child? Would you make him jump through hoops to hear your answer? Is there any dad who would?
“If you then, being 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 7:11)
There are two parts to knowing God’s will: DESIRE and TECHNIQUE. Desire is 90% of the process and technique is only 10%. We however spend 90% of our time discussing technique and only 10% of our time focused on desire. This is why we struggle.
I can address the issue of technique and share some tips another time, but if you don’t get the first part right, no technique will ever work for you. You have to believe that God wants to reveal His will and you must seek it out diligently with that assurance in mind.
God is your Father and His greatest delight is to reveal Himself and His will to His children. You have to believe that.