“Finding God’s Perfect Will”
Sincere and devout Christians often wrestle with trying to find God’s “perfect will” for their lives. They have heard that being within this perfect will of God brings the full goodness of what God intends for us. Getting outside that perfect will, however that might happen, means we experience less than what we could have enjoyed. We may conclude that hardship and disappointment have come because we are not within God’s perfect will for our lives.
Often this perfect plan of God is sought in finding the right job, marrying the right person, and other such “major” life decisions. Many agonize over trying to figure out this mysterious plan of God, fearing what permanent disadvantage they will incur if they fail. But if we think of Jesus, whom we must believe was within God’s perfect will, we begin to realize the faulty nature of this reasoning. Jesus did not enjoy a life free of trouble or that seemed particularly blessed! He was a “man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). More significantly, I question the idea that the will of God for our lives is really all that mysterious or hard to discern. In fact, it is quite plain. Here it is stated by the prophet Micah:
He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8).
Jesus himself said it this way, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ and ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-38).
Numerous passages point to exactly what is God’s will for us. Forgive others, love lavishly, be concerned for the weak and vulnerable, and seek God’s kingdom. This is the perfect will of God for our lives and thankfully it is stated clearly. Difficult, yes . . . mysterious, no.
God is less concerned with “what” I do and much more with “how” and “why”. God has not chosen a job for you that you must find. God cares very little about what we do to earn a living, but how and why we chose that work. Was the choice made in faith? Do I intend to practice my faith in the doing of that work, whatever it is? Am I working in a just manner, loving kindness, and acting in humility before God? Am I loving God and my neighbor in what I am doing? There is no divinely appointed career for each one of us, but about which he won’t tell us! There are good works that God has planned for us to do . . . and those he has explained in detail (Ephesians 2:10).
The same is true about our relationships. God has not chosen one individual among the 7 billion in the world for you to marry. Good luck trying to find that person! Instead, God has clearly told us his will in how to treat all people with whom we have relationships. Being in the perfect will of God is a manner of living in all that we do by faith, hope, and love. The perfect will of God is not about getting certain “big” life decisions right, but how we do the smallest things and also undertake the greatest endeavors.
The Christian life does not involve following some preordained path in life that, if you should get off it, leaves you forever doomed to a less than abundant life. Is that Good News? You have one shot and if you miss then you will never experience what the perfect will God had for you! Rather, God’s perfect will is fulfilled through practicing love. The Christian life is a way of living that draws from God’s own nature, and God’s perfect will is that we attempt to imitate Christ in faith. Stop searching for God’s “perfect will” and start living into the new life that has been given to us in Christ!