That must have been choreographed,” someone said after my wife and I danced the first dance at our wedding. But our first dance at our wedding was not choreographed. I led, and she followed, which is the key to a good dance.
When dancing, the lead provides the “picture frame.” The dance happens inside the picture frame. The lead plans ahead; is the organizer of the dance; and has control over structure, spacing, timing, and pace. He decides on the movements based on the space available and ensures the follow is not placed in a dangerous position when dancing with other people on the dance floor.
The follow provides the image that sits inside the picture frame. She responds to the lead and interprets his movements. She has to be a good listener and not disrupt the plan. As the follow, she must have patience and skill because she gives the control to the lead, but it doesn’t mean she is passive. She has more freedom to express herself in dance because she’s in the flow of music and doesn’t have to worry about what comes next.
Discovering God’s will and finding direction for your life from God is like the lead and follow of dancers. God’s the lead. You are the follow and must know the lead and respond to him.
But what is the “will of God?” God’s will is often described in three ways. God’s sovereign will is his purpose throughout all time. This sometimes is called God’s secret will or hidden will because it is not always revealed by God. Paul told the believers in Ephesus about God’s sovereign will writing, “Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan” (Ephesians 1:11, NLT).
God’s moral will is what we are supposed to do based on what God has revealed to us. Based on God’s revelation to us—the Bible—we know what we are supposed to believe and how we are supposed to behave. The Ten Commandments in Exodus 2:1-10 is an obvious example of God’s moral will describing what we should and should not do. A New Testament example of God’s moral will is 2 Corinthians 5:16-6:2 which gives the “job description” of Christians to be reconcilers, ambassadors, and partners with God.
God’s individual will is his plan for your life and how you handle the situations based on that plan. There are three things all Christians can do to discover and follow God’s will.
1. Study God’s Word Daily
Billy Graham once said, “The Bible is the constitution of Christianity.” God’s will and God’s voice are in the Bible. We don’t need to hear a voice from heaven when God has given us a verse in his Word. Sometimes we ask, “God, what is your will on this matter?” when he has already given us the answer in the Bible.
In his book, Decision-Making by the Book, Haddon Robinson writes, “Christians have guidance. It’s unambiguous and direct. It’s from God, it’s for us, and it’s found in his Word. . . All the guidance I need to be all that God wants me to be is found in Scripture. To make good decisions I need to be mighty in the Word of God. This is not a peripheral issue. I need to know the Scriptures—the New Testament and Old.”
Knowing God’s will starts with knowing his Word. Are you reading it every day? Are you taking time to deeply study specific books of the Bible? Are you using a study Bible, concordance, Bible dictionary, or commentary to help you go deeper into God’s Word?
The apostle Paul tells us, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
The first step to knowing God’s will for your life is to read and study his Word. Find a good translation that is easy for you to understand and study.
2. Pray to God About It
God is always available to talk when you want to. I’m fond of Warren Wiersbe’s thoughts on prayer, “When God’s people stop praying, they start depending on their own abilities and ideas and begin imitating the world’s methods.” Prayer puts God in the lead. We should go to God in prayer when we know we can’t handle a situation on our own. In reality, we should go to God for every decision. When you talk to God share with him what’s on your heart. Journaling helps me to pray to God about what I’m struggling with. Others might find it helpful to talk aloud to him.
3. Ask Godly and Wise Friends and Family
Find people that are godly and wise. Charles Swindoll writes, “Wisdom isn’t something that is exclusive to those who have exceptional IQs or advanced degrees. Rather, wise behavior in the eyes of the Lord comes as a result of obeying the Lord’s commands.” Resist the urge to think that a smart person with a lot of knowledge is wise. Author Paul David Tripp says there “is a huge difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is an accurate understanding of truth. Wisdom is understanding and living in light of how that truth applies to the situations and relationships in your daily life. Knowledge is the exercise of your brain. Wisdom is the commitment of your heart that leads to transformation of your life.”
Go to people that have your best interest in mind and who are experienced in the situation you face. Proverbs tells us “Walk with the wise and become wise” (Proverbs 13:20). Take advantage of the people you know and believe are wise. Ask them what experiences they have had in the situation you’re facing. What did they do? How would they do things differently now?
As you work through these three ways to discern God’s will for your life, remember God is not limited by the decision you make. In his book, Decision-Making by the Book, Haddon Robinson encourages us to make decisions even though we might not be 100 percent certain they are God’s will. “We need to remember that when we talk about making decisions, God is not at the mercy of our choices. God is not limited to what we decide to do. But in God’s sovereignty, he can work in our choices, through our choices, and in spite of our choices, to accomplish his will.”
We will not always make the correct decision, but God will still work in situations regardless of what we decide. God has told us, “I love all who love me. Those who search will surely find me” (Proverbs 8:17).
Knowing God’s will can be difficult but he’s the lead in your dance called life and to follow him correctly you must know him, be patient, and respond to him. Start by studying his Word. You don’t need a voice from God when he has given you a verse. Pray to God during your quiet devotional time and throughout the day. Ask for counsel from godly and wise friends and family. God’s Spirit sometimes intervenes for us and helps us know his will, but these three elements I’ve shared can be something we start with while we try to discern God’s will and hear his voice.
After doing those things remember that you won’t limit God from working in your life by what you decide. He’s still in charge regardless of what you decide, and he’ll work out the plans he has for your life. Start the dance and see where he leads.