In high school, the question I asked the Lord most often was this: "God, what's your will for my life?" I believed in God's sovereignty. I was convinced that every single person had a very specific occupational calling. It was obvious that people had different gifts, passions, and abilities. It was undeniable that each individual had his or her quirks. In light of the things He had entrusted to me, I wanted to be faithful and steward them well.
But here's the thing: I was paralyzed because I was expecting to receive a custom tailored, black and white guide for my life, and it wasn't coming. I wanted Him to clearly tell me the details: go to this university; study in this field; pursue this career. I was puzzled when it never came because I thought, "Lord, I want to be obedient. Why aren't you telling me what to do?"
Maybe this seems silly to you. Or maybe you've been there so you know exactly what I'm talking about – you're wondering, 'Why the radio silence, Lord?" But what if I told you He has already spoken to us clearly, and it's all written down in black and white? Well, He has! The Bible nestled in hotel drawers; the Bible hidden on your shelf; the Bible in the pews in all Protestant churches in America. The Bible is the Word of God – the very words of God.
While I was persistently asking, "God, what's your will for my life?", I had neglected to faithfully study His Word. Sure, I "read" the Bible if you mean I randomly read passages with the goal of finding a quick solution to whatever issue I had at the time. Looking back, I can see how I tried to use the Word of God as a custom-tailored guide whenever I chose verses out of context to apply to whatever situation was at hand. Yes, there are many applications to Scripture; however, there is one, divinely-intended interpretation that we can't (and shouldn't try to) change to fit into our circumstances as we see fit.
This is why I was so struck years later when I learned that the Bible wasn't about me. The Bible isn't a collection of random books filled with morals to help me have a good life. No, there is a grand narrative from Genesis to Revelation, and the main character is Jesus. The Bible is a book about God and His beautiful plan of redemption. By His grace, when we understand this, we are led to worship and awe, and obedience is an overflow of this deep reverence.
This changed everything.
As I began to study God's Word with the correct posture and perspective, I quickly realized that the answer to my persistent prayer was answered in black and white the whole time. The answer to "God, what's your will for my life?" was answered in 1 Thessalonians 4:13, which says, "For this is the will of God, your sanctification." His will is my sanctification. He wants me to grow in godliness. He wants me to be transformed into Christlikeness. He's after my holiness. And this progressive sanctification can happen anywhere. It can happen at any university. It can happen in any career. Every moment is an opportunity to grow in godliness.
Fifteen years removed from my high school days, I now know that God's Word is truly sufficient. Second Peter 1:3a tells us that "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness". Everything we need for life and godliness is given to us in His Word, and as believers, we have the indwelling Holy Spirit who is our Helper. Now, my prayers are, "Lord, how is this moment an opportunity for me to grow in Christlikeness?" We can make decisions with wisdom and move forward in life. We can use our gifts and pursue our passions with the single goal of glorifying God. Our differences – even our unique quirks – can showcase His creativity. Our ability to reflect the various aspects of His attributes would be severely limited without the diversity found in the body of Christ!
Friends, if you are in a place of uncertainty, seek His Word for clarity. Commit to studying His Word with a posture of humility. If you don't know where to begin, here are a few resources to consider:
- Amen Study from The Daily Grace Co.
- Daily Grace Study Guide (FREE)
- Word of Life study on The Daily Grace Co. App (FREE)
- Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin
These are helpful resources in understanding the grand narrative of Scripture and equipping you with some tools as you approach the text. But more than anything, read God's Word for yourself. Pick a smaller book in the New Testament so you will be able to read it over and over again, which is necessary to pick up on key words and themes in the Bible. Through all of this, bring your questions before the Lord. Confess your need for Him. John 15:5 tells us that we can do nothing apart from Him.
He is faithful, and He isn't radio silent. His Word is available to us, and it is sufficient. May we have the ears to hear and the willingness to receive the counsel of the Lord.
For more on God's will for your life, check out Episode 25 of the Daily Grace podcast titled "What is God's Will for Your Life". Also, tune into the interview with Ruth Chou Simons on "Growing in Godliness in Everyday Life", which is Episode 34 of the Daily Grace podcast.