What is God’s will for your summer? Is it God’s will for you to go on the Campus Outreach Summer Beach Project?
Is it God’s will for you to be at GW or transfer or drop out and stop accumulating ridiculous amounts of debt?
How about your major? Are you sure you have declared the right major? Should you change your major?
What is God’s will for you with your career? Should you go to some kind of grad school or law school first?
Is it God’s will for you to get married? And if so, to whom? Etc…
When you think about these decisions you have to make in your life don’t you see your need for guidance? Whether it is from a trusted friend or family member, a consultant or expert in a particular field, or a pastor, counselor, or mentor. We all seek out guidance all the time.
But how can we guidance from God? What are some basic truths from God’s word about guidance?
Truth # 1: God Made Decisions
“The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” (Proverbs 16:33)
Lot casting is a lot like drawing straws or flipping a coin. And this verse says every little detail is from God’s plan.
“The LORD has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.” (Proverbs 16:4)
Nothing happens that is not according to his plans.
“Man’s steps are ordained by the LORD, How then can man understand his way?” (Proverbs 20:24)
“The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.” (Proverbs 21:1)
Truth # 2: We Make Decisions
“The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.” (Proverbs 16:1)
The plans of the heart belong to who? Man.
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)
It’s not 50/50 or 20/80. It’s 100% both.
Your plans are yours, but what actually happens are controlled and fixed by God.
Human categories do not hold these two things together, but the Bible tells us God made choices and we make choices.
This may not make any sense to you. It may make you all upset, etc…But consider this one thing. What alternative would you suggest?
What fool would want to live in a universe that was only one sided?
Do you really want your future to be completely and totally fixed by your choices? Where God could not intervene and all your hope rested on your shoulders alone? Would you really want to live in that world? Are you really that proud to think that is going to go well for you?
Or flip it around:
Who would want to live in a world where you choices have nothing to do with your destiny? Who wants a God who makes us into robots and our choices do not matter or have any consequences?
Maybe you think it is one or the other. Maybe you think that if God is completely and totally sovereign then the only alternative is that we must be robots, but just because you cannot conceive of a different alternative does not mean there is not one.
The biblical understanding does not say that your choices have no connection to your destiny or that your choices determine your destiny. Rather God in his sovereignty relates your choices partially to your destiny but he is the one who fixes everything. Therefore, you are held responsible and yet you can relax.
Don’t’ you see that if your choices were meaningless then there would be no incentive, but your choices are truly yours. Consequences will surely come from bad choices. But on the other hand, since everything is under the control of God you can relax.
These two truths are foundational, but I want to turn now to a third truth that gets to the heart of answering the question “how do I know God’s will for my life?”
Truth # 3: We Must Commit to the Lord
“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” (Proverbs 16:3)
What does this mean? Its not as obvious as you might first think. The proverbs are not the milk or meat of God’s word. They are the hard candy. You have to meditate on it and suck on it for a while.
This is not saying, “commit your plans and then the execution of those plans will succeed.” That is not what it is saying.
It says the exact opposite. It says, “commit your deeds to the Lord and you will become more and more a person who makes successful plans.”
The word “commit” means to roll over and put all your weight on and this is saying unconditionally trust God for all the things in your life and when you do that you will slowly become a person who makes wise plans.
Several years ago Elizabeth Elliott wrote a book on guidance and in it said, “The more we pay for advice the more we are likely to listen to it. Advice from a friend, which is free, we may take or leave. Advice from a consultant we paid much for we are more likely to accept, but it is still our choice. We can take it or accept it. The guidance of God is different. First of all, we do not come to God asking for advice, but for God’s will and that is not optional. And God’s fee is the highest one of all. It cost everything! To ask for the guidance from God requires abandonment. We no longer say, ‘If I trust you, you will give me such and such.’ Instead, we must say, ‘I trust you. Give me or withhold from me whatever you choose.’ As John Newton says, ‘What you will. When you will. How you will.'”
Finding God’s will is not coming to God and saying if I trust you, then you will do such and such. That is the wrong way to read the Proverb. Come to God and say, “I trust you. Give me or not give whatever you choose. ‘What you will. When you will. How you will.’
What does this mean? How do I live this way?
It means from this moment on you will say to God, “I will obey anything you tell me whether I understand it or not. I will accept anything you send me whether I understand it or not. I am not going to bail on you, no matter what.”
The bible is saying that only if we live our lives like this will our plans become wise with more and more success.
In other words, we learn to make godly decisions through experience and by being shown time and time again that God is worthy of our total and complete trust. This is how we learn in life, right? We do not really learn what it means that we are sinner just by being told. You have to be shown. We do not really learn what it means that God loves us by being told. You have to be shown.
So many of you wouldn’t live the way you do if you really believed you were a sinner and that God loves you. You do not really get it.
We will not become wise until we are put in situations over and over and over again where we feel like we were abandoned by God only later to realize we were wrong. When that happens you will become wise.
Commit your entire life to God. Radical and total trust. Then you will become a wise person.
For example, a girl who needs a boyfriend more than anything and has to have a lover, you will date people you shouldn’t and stay in relationships that you should have never gotten into.
But what happens is that as time goes and you commit yourself to the Lord your plans become better and better, wiser and wiser.
In sum, commit your life completely to the Lord and start making decisions.
But what if I do not have peace about it. I need to know God’s will! Which one do I choose? Why doesn’t God just tell us what to do?
Because God wants you to become wise. It does not take any wisdom if you are told to do everything.
Imagine you are 4 years old and you ask your dad to go out and play and he says okay, but only over here and not for too long because we are going to have dinner soon.
Now fast forward the clock and imagine you’re here at GW in college. You call your dad and ask him, “Dad, there are some guys out in U Yard playing frisbee. I was just wondering if I could go out and play.”
And you would say, “What is wrong with you? You know how much work you have. I do not know.”
“But Dad I just want you to make the decision for me.”
Now there are parents out there who want their children to be that dependent on them, but God is not one of them. He wants you to be like him. Make a decision!
Truth # 4: Jesus Is Committed to You
We have established that only those who have made a radically committed trust to him will you start to slowly become the kind of person whose plans are wise.
But who does that? Who really commits completely and radically? Who puts all their weight into God?
Only one person has ever done that. Only Jesus Christ has committed his plans completely and radically to God.
Even when it was the will of the Father to crush him for the sins of his people. Jesus said,
“Ok. Not my will but yours be done.”
Listen to the way John 10 describes what happened.
“For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” (John 10:17-18)
Yes it was the will of the Father, but it was also Jesus’ choice and he chose you.
And his choice not only makes you eligible for God’s guidance, but his choice makes it possible for you to commit everything to him.
He gave up everything and made a commitment to you even when he did not have a peace about it. Do you know this? Do you really know it? Have you been shown it? Have you tasted it?
To the degree that you know (“really know”) what he has done will be to the degree that you will be able to commit everything to him and therefore become the kind of person that makes wise decisions.
As William Cowper, a man who suffered great depression, once put it:
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.
Several of the points made above are from a sermon by Dr. Timothy J. Keller. Preached on December 12, 2004. A free sermon download can be accessed at the following web address: