At the beginning of the 2016 spring semester, I was disenchanted with the whole college thing.
Admittedly, I was only taking online classes. That might have had something to do with it. Regardless, the root of this feeling was the belief that I could get everything I was learning from my courses by reading a book on my own.
I had been thinking that way for a while, but the last straw came when I signed up for a small business/entrepreneur course.
While looking at the course syllabus, I noticed something strange.The course had no video lectures. It consisted only of reading some books and doing some projects.
I had had enough.
I wasn’t going to waste thousands of dollars just to read a book and write some papers. I dropped out in the spring of 2016.
Two years later, I started having different thoughts. Maybe I wanted to get a masters degree. Maybe I wanted to be a professor one day. There was only one problem; there was a pesky bachelor’s degree in the way.
I signed up for one class (still online) in the 2018 winter semester to try higher education one more time. I watched the first video lecture. It was nothing to write home about. It was a dull presentation of loosely connected facts.
Played the second video lecture. Same thing. About halfway through, the professor went off on a tangent. He started talking about God’s will, and things started to get interesting.
He made me think about God’s will in a completely different way. As I was watching the lecture, I thought, “This one lesson might have been worth the whole $2,000.”
Before I get into what he said, I have to lay some groundwork.
Finding God’s Will
In Christian circles, finding out God’s will for your life is extremely important. Christians want to be obedient to God, and they want to be obedient in every part of their lives. They want to know who God wants them to date. They want to know where to go to college and which degree to choose. They want to know which job to take or whether they should pursue full-time ministry.
If they ask a pastor or other mature Christian for guidance in any life decision, they’ll likely be told, “Pray about it.” And so the young believers will pray and pray and pray some more. What are the praying for? They are praying for a sign or revelation from God about what they should do.
They are waiting for a dream, a vision or a burning bush. They want someone to pray for them and give them a message from God or else audibly hear from God himself.
I’m not saying that God cannot answer prayers in those miraculous ways, but what happens when God doesn’t answer like that? How do you make an important life decision when you don’t know what God’s will is in that specific area?
For some, the lack of a personal revelation can be paralyzing. They won’t make a decision unless they receive specific guidance from God. I have experienced this in my own life.
On one occasion, I found myself interested in a particular woman, but I wasn’t sure if I should make a move. I began to pray about it. A lot. By the time I finished praying about it, I had already moved on. I say that in a very real sense; I had moved to another city! That was a missed opportunity all because I didn’t know God’s will for that relationship.
Why do we always expect epic personal revelations like visions and thundering voices from Heaven? I think part of it lies in the way we have been taught the Bible. We are told amazing stories in which God is constantly speaking to people and miraculously moving in their lives. What we don’t realize is that these stories are told in chapters, and each chapter could be years apart from the next one.
Consider the story of Joseph in Genesis. In one chapter, he has a dream about ruling over his parents and brothers. A few chapters later he is practically the king of Egypt. The events in the in-between chapters were 13 years long! Yes, Joseph did have a dream from God. However, the Bible doesn’t say that Joseph had a dream to guide him every time he needed to make a decision during that 13 year span.
What My Professor Taught Me About God’s Will
We need to think differently about what God’s will means for our lives. Maybe it doesn’t mean expecting a personal revelation from God every time we need to make an important life decision. This is where what my professor said in that video lecture comes into play.
Summing up my professor: The Bible provides the boundaries for our lives. We are free to make choices and do what we want as long as we stay within those boundaries.
I found that idea to be incredibly freeing. We are free to make choices. God doesn’t have to outline our entire lives.
If you can’t figure out which career God wants you to pursue, choose the one that interests you. Don’t know who God wants you to date? Date the godly man or woman that you find attractive.
Make decisions, but follow the teachings of the Bible. Love your neighbor (Mk. 12:31 NIV). Flee from sexual immorality (1 Cor. 6:18). Talk appropriately (Eph. 4:29). Don’t lie (Lev. 19:11). I believe this is how we can live the blessed life that God wants us to have.
It’s a simple, maybe even common sense idea about God’s will. We are free to make choices within the boundaries provided by the Bible. With our tendency to complicate things, it’s exactly what we need.
I leave you with this verse to consider:
“Be cheerful and enjoy life while you are young! Do what you want and find pleasure in what you see. But don’t forget that God will judge you for everything you do” (Ecc. 11:9 CEV).
What has been your experience with discovering God’s will for your life? Share by dropping a comment!