Before we discuss certain precepts, let’s note two important ideas that necessarily undergird a discussion of the will of God. I don’t think that everyone is conscious of these two ideas, but I think that thinking over them will help us understand the importance of the matter of God’s will. That is to say, God’s will does not simply relate to where we go to college. Rather, it relates to the way we understand ourselves—and the way we understand God.
The first key idea is that the way we understand God’s will determines the way we live. It’s a simple matter, really. If you think that God’s will is hidden and difficult to discover, you will naturally live in confusion. Your confusion won’t simply surface in frustration over decisions, but will trap you in a pattern of fear and tentativeness that is certainly damaging to your spiritual life. You will think of life as a confounding journey, a perplexing quest to a destination you do not know and cannot find. The days you are given will not present themselves to you as opportunities for exploration and growth, but as little time-sealed prisons. Much of the joy that the Bible promises the hungry Christian will evade you, or rather, you will overlook it. It’s not a pretty picture, and it may be a bit dramatic, but it is nonetheless realistic for many Christians, I think.
On the other hand, if you think of God as a revealing God who does not wish you to live in a swamp of confusion and disarray, you will find much joy. If you remember that God is sovereign, you will know that your life is not ultimately dependent on you and your decisions. You will see instead that while you are responsible for making wise and faithful decisions, God has the creation in His palm. He loves it, and He loves you as His child, and He will work all things out for your good. That idea doesn’t simply apply to the end of life, when everything “works out for good” in the ultimate sense (being heaven), but on a day-to-day basis. Instead of being perplexed by the days and their options, we can see them as gifts from God in which we discover His goodness. And so we see that the way we understand God’s will determines the way we live.