The very title, "Five Simple Steps to Discover God's Plans for You," likely has some of you already objecting. "You've got to be kidding! Simple? Discovering God's plans?" Others of you are already thinking about your own questions:
- Who should I marry?
- Should I go back to school?
- Is this the place where God wants me to serve?
- Should I start my own business?
- Should I homeschool my kids?
- When should I buy a home?
- When should I retire?
- Where is God calling me?
- Is this job a dead-end?
- What's the next step in my life?
- Which church should I attend?
- Am I really on track with God's will for my life?
Does "Five Steps" sound too simplistic? Maybe. Is it possible we sometimes complicate God's will or God's plans for our lives? How do we figure out those plans? Just what arethose plans?
God's promise in Jeremiah 29:11 gives us a clue: "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (NIV)
Two Things to Believe
From that verse we can believe two things:
- God's plans are always good (not harmful to us).
- God's plans are always designed to bring us good (hope and a future).
But how do we handle the big decisions in life? How do we know if we're making the ones that will bring good for us?
The Five Simple Steps
Here are five simple steps that might help. They're not exclusive, and may appear too simple for you. But I believe they work:
- ASK. You want wisdom? James 1:5 says to ask God for it. But believe God will give it to you. Most of us have a tendency to figure things out on our own. God is saying, "Hello, I'm here. I made you. Trust me."
- BE FAITHFUL WHERE YOU ARE. God will not give you greater opportunities or responsibilities if you aren't faithful with what He's already entrusted you in the smaller areas of your life (See Matthew 25:21). Serve Him cheerfully, gratefully, faithfully, wherever you are, no matter what your lot in life may be right now.
- LISTEN. Continue to study and pray (and even fast), watching for insights from God's Word and the Holy Spirit. Other trusted believers can help balance your perspective. But in the end, God and His Word never change (Malachi 3:6, James 1:17). God will not "tell" you to do something that is against His righteous character or contrary to the principles in His Word. His Word is powerful, bringing instruction, correction, training, and equipping us thoroughly "for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Trying to make decisions without consulting God or His Word is like trying to find our way through a dark tunnel without a flashlight.
- WAIT. Waiting is not always easy. Sometimes God gives you more than one good choice. That happened to us one year when two churches were interested in my husband coming to serve as a new staff member. Both churches seemed like possible fits. We considered both, but had no answers. So we waited and prayed. Before we had to make a decision, God had eliminated one and cleared the way for the other.
However, another time earlier in his life, Larry faced two good decisions. Both seemed great choices: attend college or serve in a missionary program for two years first. He ultimately decided God would have been pleased with either choice. So he ultimately chose one with confidence.
But either way, waiting on God before you act or decide allows you time to think, pray, and listen for that wisdom God has promised.
I confess to being a "show-me" kind of woman. "God, will you please show me clearly what to do and when to do it?" Waiting is not my favorite thing to do. Yet through the years I've discovered that God sometimes delays His clear-cut answers to cultivate our trust in Him alone-and not on our own wisdom. Unfortunately, I often learned that the hard way!
It's not always a matter of us waiting on Him. Sometimes God is waiting on us… for our character to catch up with His desires for us (or for His plans to become our plans).
- OBEY. Similar to #2 above, simply keep doing what you know to do, day in and day out. Stay faithful, keep growing, stop worrying, and obey God with the light that He has given you. If your heart's desire is to please and honor the Lord in all you do and in all your decisions, will that decision really be a "bad" one?
Two More Truths
Still have questions? But what about…. what if….? We'll always have questions. Remember the two things we can count on about God and His plan for us. Then remind yourself of two more familiar truths:
- There is a God.
- We're not Him.
Bottom line: Does God keep His promises? Absolutely. Can we trust a God who never changes? Yes! Is God faithful? What do you think?
Rebecca Barlow Jordan is an inspirational author, speaker, and passionate follower of Jesus who loves to encourage others heart to heart. She has written 11 books and over 1700 other articles, greeting cards, and other inspirational pieces. Her daily devotional Daily in Your Presence is available for delivery through Crosswalk.com. You can find out more about Rebecca at www.rebeccabarlowjordan.com.