”Is finding the will of God for my life difficult?”
This question probably runs though all of our minds at some time. Discovering God's leading and direction can seem mysterious and unknowable. We can feel it is like trying to follow footprints on the ocean. We feel lost and alone and wonder what is it God really wants us to do. Or perhaps we are facing a serious decision and really want to hear the voice of God directing us in the right path. Sometimes the search leads us to confusion or frustration. How do we go about finding the will of God?
”Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2, NIV
As Christians we want to be finding the will of God at all times. We want to please Him and grow up to maturity in the image of Christ. Our desire is to do the right thing, but how can we determine what it is that God really wants us to do? How can we avoid making mistakes that could shatter our lives or the lives of others?
We must begin by realizing that there is the general will of God and the specific will of God. We tend to ignore the general will of God in our search for the specific will of God. Yet, if we are not finding the will of God in the general directions of Scripture, the specific will of God will seem hazy and foggy. We will be more likely to hear direction from voices other than God's voice. If we are ignorant of the general will of God, then we are on shaky ground indeed.
The general will of God has two aspects.
First, the Bible declares the will of God. We must approach Scripture with the attitude that the Holy Spirit is going to use it to reveal the will of God to us. For example, by studying the Bible, we know it is God’s will that we come to salvation, study His word, pray and develop our relationship with Him and others. This is how our mind is renewed so we can look at things from His perspective.
We also know, from Scripture, that it is the will of God that we give thanks in all things. We learn we need to be kind, look after our family, control our emotions, and everything else the Bible declares to be the general will of God. Learning and applying the general will of God is a process we are in from new birth to death. All of us could spend many lifetimes just working on finding the will of God in Scripture without worrying about the specific will of God!
Second, the general will of God is the way God declares things normally work out in life. Proverbs is a good example of this. Another example is the general promise that children who obey their parents will have a long life [given in both Old and New Testaments]. This is the general will of God and shows how things are designed work - especially in a Godly society - but it doesn’t mean that every obedient child will have a long life. The specific will of God may override this aspect of the general will of God especially when our faith is tested or we face persecution. We can; nevertheless, have full confidence that God will work things out for good in the long run.
"So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you." Romans 12:1-2, The Message
When we think of finding the will of God though, we are most often thinking of the specific will of God for our lives. What does God want me to do? What job should I have? Who should I marry or how do I handle the kids? What church should I go to? What is MY purpose in life?
To discover the specific will of God in any situation we must be working at understanding and applying the general will of God. Living the general will of God naturally leads us into the specific purpose of God for our lives. It is important we see this. We cannot be led of God in finding the will of God if we are walking in rebellion to His general will. For example, there is no need to seek the specific will of God about marrying a non-Christian. The general will of God has already declared not to be “unequally yoked.” Begging and pleading to be the "exception" only reveals our resistance to the voice of God spoken on the pages of Scripture. There is no need to seek the will of God about where He wants us if we are not already “doing everything our hand finds to do with all our might.” Most people probably need to worry less about the specific will of God and just do the general will - they might be very surprised where God will then lead them!
However, there are times when we are finding the will of God in the Bible to the best of our knowledge/ability and we need specific direction. What do we do? The more important the decision, the more careful we need to be. There are several steps we can take,
a] as much as possible set our own will aside and have a willing spirit to do whatever God may direct,
b] read the Bible seeing if God is making something related stand out,
c] spend time in prayer and fasting,
d] seek Godly counsel,
e] get all the information you can, making a "pros and cons" list,
f] see if you have “peace” with one decision over another - the peace of God can be a very good director. Make the best decision you can, trusting God to work it out. If you sincerely do the above, you will not go far wrong. And if God needs to adjust or correct as you move forward, He will. Trust Him.