One of the questions I’m asked from time to time is, “what is God’s will for my life” or some variation of that question. It’s also a question debated in the public area as we see various groups of people or individuals claiming to act on God’s behalf. The answer is both easy and difficult. First the difficult part.
I think to know the will of God is a lifetime pursuit. It includes a life filled with prayer, contemplation, and reflecting on Scripture.
Prayer: A life of prayer is, in part, speaking; the other part being silence, even if you end up taking a nap. In my life, speaking starts off with thanksgiving because I have so much to be thankful for, and in thanksgiving I acknowledge that all I have is from God, to be used for God’s purpose. After a time of thanksgiving is a time of asking forgiveness, (Sometimes the hardest thing is forgiving ourselves.) And then a time of silence- it’s amazing how loud silence is sometimes.
Contemplation: In my life, contemplation means to reflect on the things of life and nature; the beauty of each sunrise and sunset, the feel of the wind, the smell of the seasons which reminds me that things always change but also- there is a rhythm to life; the interaction of parent and child, the fragility of life and the special-ness of those who we allow to be part of our lives and those who want us in theirs.
Reflecting on Scripture, not the study of Scripture: Studying Scripture means knowing Greek & Hebrew, worrying about syntax, tenses, the origins of words, the study of history & sociology…and arguing about who’s right. Reflecting on Scripture means to ask questions: where am I in the story- if at all? What lesson does this story teach me? Does this passage offend me? Challenge me? Give me comfort or give me grief? And it’s a journey that takes a lifetime.
Seeking the will of God doesn’t mean a person is better or holier than others, seeking the will of God doesn’t give permission to judge or condemn others. When this happens, I think we’ve missed something.
Now the easy part. The will of God is expressed in Scripture: compassion for others, love and acceptance of others, seeing others as created in the image of God, caring for the homeless, loving those that others don’t, seeing and giving respect to those invisible to the rest of society.
What we do for a living, who we marry, where we live- are all important questions because they are the stuff of life. But the will of God is found in Scripture and it takes a lifetime of pursuit to see it in our lives and the questions become- "how is the will of God expressed in the way I earn a living"