A post from John Ortberg

HOW DO I KNOW GOD’S WILL FOR MY LIFE?

I was at commencement at a Christian college this weekend, and it reminded me of the question millions of young people are asking this time of year.

We never grow out of that question: Who is operating out of a wisdom surplus?

But the vast majority of people start at the wrong place.

When I finished college, I desperately wanted to know what I should do next. Find a job? Go to grad school? Where? In what field?

I prayed until I was exhausted (and God was probably a little tired of it too). I was ready to do whatever. Just send me a postcard. Put it in sky writing. But I would have gotten more clarity with a Magic 8 ball.

For a good reason.

Which I did not understand for many years. And its this:

God’s main purpose for you is not what you do. Its who you become.

If I always told my kids what do to–wear these clothes, take this job, marry this person–they might do what I say. Their circumstances might even turn out OK.

But they would not grow into excellent persons.

To grow into an excellent person, you have to make choices, exercise judgment, take responsibility, and learn.

There is no short-cut for this.

So, if I want my children to become excellent people–my will for their life will often be: “You choose.”

God knew that I would grow if I had to make choices in ways I would never grow if I got a heavenly postcard.

“God’s will” is not a way of escaping the anxiety and responsbility of making decisions.

I had a friend–a really bright guy and great New Testament scholar–who was convinced it was God’s will for him to marry the girl he wanted to marry because a certain song played at a certain moment on a certain radio station.

It wasn’t God’s will. It was just a Barry Manilow marathon.

Sometimes a Barry Manilow marathon is just a Barry Manilow marathon.

How do I know God’s will for my life?

–Live this day in an open, repentant spirit.

–Understand that living in God’s will often means I must make decisions.

–Pray constantly, regularly asking for wisdom in small moments, without placing pressure on God to give any particular kind of response.

–”Let your life speak”: Parker Palmer wrote a wonderful book by this title from an old Quaker saying; if you look at the trajectory of your life with simplicity and openess certain patterns will emerge that will help you understand your shape and gifts and longings

–Have wise, godly people speak into your life with love and truth

–Be willing to make mistakes and learn from them quicker rather than slower

–Have a mind immersed with great thoughts from Scripture

–Practice making decisions and learning from them all day long

–Live in freedom and joy. Trust God that He can guide you into His will without your obsessing over it.