- Daniel Klassen
Asking Better Questions Than, "What is God's Will for My Life?"
There are few Christians who have not asked, "What is God's will for my life?" They understand that God has an eternal plan, they understand that their life has purpose and meaning, they understand that they are to live for Him, but what does that look like? How are they to live that plan out? What if they aren't living as they should to fit into that plan? They go to the Bible, but they cannot find what kind of career they should pursue, whom they should marry, whether or not to buy a certain house or car, if they should move or remain where they live, etc. So they turn to prayer and counsel to find the answer to the pressing question, "What is God's will for my life."
Of course, this question refers to the secret will and counsel of God. It refers to the plan that only God knows, i.e., the plan to save the elect (Eph. 1:4), and where each one will live (Acts 17:26). We know about this plan, but we don't know the details of this plan, and that is what we are after.
What if this question is wrong? What if this question is sinful? What if this question is a ploy used by Satan to rid us of our assurance?
Thomas Brooks, the 17th Century Naval chaplain thought so. He wrote,
“[An] impediment to assurance is, men's entering into the lists of dispute with Satan about those things that are above their reach, as about the decrees and counsel of God. Oh by this Satan keeps many precious souls off from assurance. Since God has cast him out of paradise, and bound him in chains of darkness, he will make use of all his skill, power and experience, to draw men into the same misery with himself; and if he cannot prevent their entering at last into paradise above, he will labor might and main to make their life a wilderness here below; and to this purpose he will busy their thoughts and hearts about the decrees of God, and about their particular elections; as, whether God has decreed them to eternal happiness, or chosen them to everlasting blessedness, etc., that so by this means he may keep them from that desirable assurance that may yield believers two heavens, a heaven of joy and comfort here, and a heaven of felicity and glory hereafter.”
The antidote to Satan's ploy to rob us of assurance is "not in disputing—but in believing, praying, and waiting on God." We don’t rely on wisdom, feelings, or experiences to argue our case for assurance with Satan, we rely on God and what He has revealed in His Word. We respond to Satan, not in the way he would want us to respond, but by the means God has given for us.
"When Satan. . . . would engage you in disputes about this or that, say to him, 'Satan, revealed things belong to me,' but 'secret things belong to the Lord,' (Deut. 29:29). . . . say to him, "Satan, you have been 'a liar and a murderer from the beginning,' (John 8:44); you are a professed enemy to the saints' confidence and assurance, to their consolation and salvation. If you have anything to say, say it to my Christ; he is my comfort and crown, my joy and strength, my redeemer and intercessor, and he shall plead for me.”"
However true it may be that this line of questioning is a ploy used by Satan to rob us of assurance, Christians are still left wondering what they are to do in this life? To simply know that God does not wish to answer this question still leaves us in the dark, without direction, wondering which step we are to take next. Furthermore, to simply know that God has a plan for us and is guiding us along still has us questioning what the next step will look like. What are we to do?
Two questions to which we are promised an answer can be asked instead.
1.) What does Scripture command me to believe/do? When you come to the Scriptures, do you first look for the truths you are to believe or the things you must do? Our actions are birthed out of belief; what we believe will be best for us at each moment is the course we will take. Therefore, to focus on what we believe will guide us along the path of life. Proverbs teaches us, again and again, to seek for and gain wisdom. Where is wisdom found? The fear and knowledge of God (Prov. 9:10).
If we follow the teachings of the Bible, we will have much to think about, much to believe, and much to do – so much so that we will have no time to inquire into the hidden will of God.
Ask yourself, have I mastered what is commanded me to believe and do? Is my character displaying the fruit of God's Spirit living within? God has revealed enough for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). God's revealed will is enough for us, let us be content with it.
2.) How will it go with me in the next life? Everyone who lives with purpose and meaning lives as though there is a cosmic judge who will one day judge what they have done. For many, God as the cosmic judge contributes to the angst of failing to live according to plan. However, if we truly see God in this way, we will have much more to think about.
How will it go for your soul in the next life? Has Christ's blood atoned for your sins? Is Christ your righteousness? Is God your Father? Are you pleasing God? Are you displaying the fruit of abiding in Christ? To think much about the next life will give us a better perspective of this life.
There are better questions to ask than, "What is God's will for my life?" Why don't you start with reading God's revealed will, it is a surer guide for your life’s course than searching for His hidden will. God's hidden will is hidden for a reason. It is concealed from us to teach us to depend on God, trust in His revealed will, and humbly submit to Him – these are the beginning of living out God’s will for your life.
 Thomas Brooks, Heaven on Earth. 1660.