Earlier this week I heard someone (very specific, right?) on the radio say that it is hard to know and do God's will.
Honestly, I don't get it.
Is it really that hard? It doesn't seem hard to me. But, then again, I could be going at this all wrong. So, I decided to do what any serious Bible scholar would do when faced with a deep question like this.
I Googled it.
The first result was from Christianity Today. Ok, let's try that. Not bad. Pretty short, but that's OK. Millenials have pretty short attention spans nowadays. The part that I zeroed in on was, "First, you have to make sure you're seeking to obey what God has already revealed in Scripture. This includes things like obeying your parents. That's a clear instruction from God. It doesn't really work to ignore God's revealed will but yet expect God to answer specific questions like where you should go to college."
If God has already revealed a truth, through His word, then that's His will. He is never going to ask you to do something that runs counter to His written word. It doesn't work like that. Hebrews 13:8 tells us that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He doesn't change with the times and He isn't trying to be cool and trendy. He is who He is, and what He requires of us doesn't change.
So how are you supposed to know what God has revealed?
Read your Bible.
Ok, so, step one. Read your Bible. Not really that difficult. Yes, the Bible is challenging to understand. However, the Holy Spirit will guide you through it and even if you don't "get" all of it you'll get enough to understand what your next steps are.
My go to verses for knowing what God wants from me are Matthew 22:37-39, James 1:27, and Micah 6:8 (among others). The key thing is to use the Bible to define terms. So, we're supposed to love the Lord and love our neighbor? What does that mean? Check out 1 Corinthians 13. Don't allow the world's definition of love, justice, or the world affect how you look at the Bible. It won't work.
So, what's next? Does God give specific instructions?
I believe He does.
To qualify, though, I don't believe its possible to have the kind of relationship with God where He communicates freely with you if you're living counter to His will. Are you chained to money and debt? Sleeping with someone you're not married to? Dishonoring your parents? Your disobedience in these areas could be preventing you from hearing God in other, more specific, areas of your life.
Does this mean God is looking to smash you down the moment you misstep? No. Or, am I saying that everything is extremely straightforward and there are no variances? Of course not.
What I am saying is that knowing and doing God's will means obeying his Word. And, in order to obey His word, you have to read and study it.
Then, God will make other things clear. In the Christianity Today example the article said that if you're ignoring God's clear instructions you can't expect God to tell you where to go to college.
I'll take that one step further. If you're obeying God's clear instructions then it will be pretty obvious where you're supposed to go to college. Where can you keep yourself unspotted from the world? Where can you go that will allow you to remain free of debt and not become unhealthily focused on money? Where can you go that will permit you to love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself? The tricky thing is, the answers to those questions aren't the same for everyone. So, answer them for yourself - don't adopt God's will for someone else and expect it to fit you.
When I believe God is giving me a clear instruction (and, it happens) I rehearse the things I know to be His will. If it lines up with that then great, I'm going for it. If not, it's probably something born of my own imagination.
Has God called me to be a loving mother and wife? Yup. Has God called me to be active and serving in my local church? Of course. Has God called me to honor my parents and my husband's parents? Certainly. Has God called me to be part of the fight against abortion? Yes. Has God called me to obey those in authority over me? Ugh, yes. Has God called me to a life of freedom from debt? It has been hard, but yes.
So, I take God's word plus the things I know to be true and use that lens to discern God's will for my life.
So, no, I don't think its that hard to know God's will.
Sometimes, though, it's really hard to actually do God's will. It can take us uncomfortable, difficult, and even painful places. The good news is this: if He has asked you to do it He will be there with you all the way. I for one would rather do hard things with God than easy things by myself.