How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 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.
Yogi Berra once said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” For some people, this is about as good as the advice gets when it comes to finding direction for their lives. But there is a way to get God’s direction for our lives, and that’s really the best guidance there is, because his will and purpose for us are in our best interests. His plan is the highest there is and the most we could ever hope for.
So how do we go about finding it? The above passages from the Psalms and from Paul’s letter to the Romans give us a good start:
1) The first principle is to have a renewed mind. This is not just a change of mind, but rather a revolution of the mind. It’s a complete change of our frame of reference. It means that whereas we usually tend to think that the entire world revolves around our wishes, our dreams, and our desires, we come to a place where everything revolves around the will of God. We orbit around him, not he around us. This is such a fundamental change that we can’t make it happen ourselves. It must come from him. We can submit ourselves for transformation, but it’s only God who can do the transforming.
2) Get to know the Scriptures—they are the counsel of God. They are a lamp to our feet lighting the pathway ahead. Don’t know where to begin? Start with the Gospels. And then, read the lives of anyone you know who ever did anything important in God’s kingdom. They were people who poured over the Scriptures daily seeking light and life.
3) Pray regularly for guidance and decide ahead of time that you’re prepared to obey when God reveals the way for you. Begin and end your prayer with, “Not my will, but yours be done.”
4) Move forward, searching while you wait (actively) for God’s guidance. Don’t stop and do nothing; keep doing what you already know to do is right until God’s new course for you is revealed. As the old saying goes, “A ship can be guided only when it’s moving.” Columbus didn’t know he was on his way to the new world, but he was guided after he set sail. The Pilgrims didn’t plan on staying on the northern coast of this continent, but the storms (God’s storms) literally put them there and kept them there. If they had reached their intended destination, they would have perished.
5) Consider all the factors: your dreams, skills, God-given gifts, things you love, and what God has blessed and prospered in your life before. Not always, but often, God guides us through what we really love and what makes our heart beat faster in thinking about it. Even when we are led to do the unpleasant or the painful, there’s a good end. Jesus didn’t want to go to the cross, but the greatest event in history took place because of it.
6) Act in faith (trust) expecting God to lead in his way and in his time. Action is the only concrete form of faith. What if you fail or make mistakes in doing so? So what? If we misread his guidance or stumble along the way, he can fix it and grant us a course correction. That’s his job, not ours. Generally, our problem is not in being too aggressive in this respect, but in being too cautious or fearful.
The good news here is that if we look to God to find his purpose for our life, he is more willing to provide it than we are to receive it. And the action for us to take today is to begin actively searching out his will in Scripture and prayer and to prepare to move when the pathway ahead lights up.