Knowing the will of God

Hi everyone,

Recently I’ve been struggling with different decisions, and how do we know what Gods will is? How do we know when to rest with God or work passionately on something?
I’ve got so many passions such as woodworking which I’ve put on the back burner for many years but recently thought I felt God prompting me to get back into it through unlikely series of events… But how do we know if that is selfish or valid? I work in healthcare which is draining me of all my energy, I can’t even get out of bed without a struggle :confused:

I would love any biblical input into this delemia :blush:
Thanks for reading :sweat_smile:

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Hi Tia,
I’m sorry to hear that work is pretty hard going, I hope it will improve soon.

I won’t try and answer the question of God’s will as I’d like others to join in the conversation too.

I’ve been working for 20+ years (in info technology) and have been through some difficult times. I struggle to get the balance between work/life right, and there are so many competing demands for our time. Work, family, parenting, marriage, church responsibilities seem heavy a lot of days. Honestly, sometimes I’d like to run away from the lot; but I know that’s not the answer (not to mention that would betray the people I love, the responsibilities I have (as husband/father) and talents God’s give me), God gives us enough strength to go through tough times, not escape from them.

This question really made me think; can we work passionately on something (paid work, volunteer, church work, a creative outlet such as a hobby, or whatever else) but leave the results with our work with God? We can’t control what others think of us, how others react to our to our personality, and we can’t control life events, and sometimes our efforts will fail and we can get up and try again and learn from it.

I’ve really enjoyed the book ‘Anxious for Nothing’ by John MacArthur, and have read it about 10 times over the last 10 years to remind myself that God is in control of events, God loves us because of Jesus Christ. yes we work hard, love others and give up of ourselves, but if we loosen control of the outcome of our efforts, it somehow frees us from the weight of our own expectations and the expectations of others. The question: What does God think of us is much more important that what do others think of us. And most importantly God loves us, not because of what we do, but because of who we are; His children. And because of who we are, we can take time out to rest (celebrate and spend time with friends, make time to recharge with a creative outlet because God has made us creative like Him).

One of my favourite passages to help me to rest in God’s love when I’m feeling burnt out and need to stop and recharge is in Romans. maybe it will encourage you too. I especially find comfort in verses 38 and 39.

God’s Everlasting Love

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Have you heard the funny old story about the two woodchoppers; the one guy who chopped relentlessly and the guy who stopped and sharped his ax. The guy who took time to rest/reflect and recharge won in the end. :slight_smile: it’s just a secular illustration, but i think there’s a little wisdom in it. We need balance in our lives. (https://screeble.com/blog/2017/03/07/story-of-two-woodcutters/)

The other thing I’ve learnt is to try to live in ‘day tight compartments’; at the end of the day stop and rest and think to myself, the day is over, tomorrow will have it’s own problems but I will worry about tomorrow when tomorrow comes (Jesus’ instructions to us to do this is in Matthew 6:34; but be sure to read the whole chapter as this verse is the conclusion of Jesus’ teaching). It’s not very productive to pull tomorrows problems into today and worry about it. At the end of the day, I think ‘it is what it is, I’ve done what I could with what I had’ and just stop. (I refuse to look at work related emails in the evening and on annual leave, and enjoy an occasional ‘digital detox’ on weekends)

just a few thoughts, hopefully a little helpful. looking forward to others perspective as well. :slight_smile:

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Hi Tia,

A very common question among believers. You definitely are not alone in questioning what God’s will is. I remember agonizing over this question as a new believer (@ 38). I thank God for the older, mature brother who have me very simple advice. He said, “if you have been praying about it, take that step of faith that is before you. You are in God’s will.” (Phil 2:13 is good to read.). We are God’s children, He is our perfect Father and we know that He works ALL things ( Rom 8:38) for the good of His children.

It is important to remember that being in God’s will doesn’t mean that everything will go well. In fact, it is safe to believe that we might struggle! Rom 5:3-5 among many verses about struggling as believers.

Tia, remain in prayer and trust your Lord.

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@Tiab May the Lord give you strength and opportunities to rest from work :slight_smile: Regarding your question, I believe that as long as we make decisions prayerfully, seek wisdom, and obey God’s Word we are free to make the best decisions that we are able. God generally does not give us the exact details of what we are to do, but rather guides us through circumstances, deeper self-understanding, and engagement with the Body of Christ.

As far as woodworking goes, that is more like a hobby than a major life decision. I would ask myself some basic questions:

  1. Do I have the time in this season of my life to start this hobby and do something meaningful with it?
  2. What should I be doing in this season of my life?
  3. What value is this hobby adding to my own life and to my community? (In your case, maybe it is important to consider if this hobby will help you find rest and rejuvenation)
  4. Am I the type of person who picks up a hobby and sticks with it for 5 or 10 years? Or do I tend to start a hobby and not follow through? If the latter, how will this be different?

Hobbies can certainly be a valuable part of life and there is nothing wrong with having them as long as they do not keep us from other responsibilities in God’s Kingdom or in daily life. May Christ grant you wisdom :slight_smile:

Making Wise Decisions

What follows are some things that have proven beneficial for me in seeking to make wise, Biblical decisions as I trust in the Lord to lead and guide.

General life advice that has helped me is:

  • know your strengths and weaknesses - what you are good at and what you are not good at - have an honest self-assessment
  • ask for input from older, wiser mentors who have known you or even friends on what they feel your gifts are or where they see God working in your life
  • think about what tugs on your heart strings - what issues really make you want to get out there and do something - helping orphans, teaching the Word, prayer - this may be something that really motivates you
  • set specific goals - try to use your gifts in small ways and improve upon them - if your gift is teaching maybe teach under a more experienced person’s leadership for 1 year and then plan to teach on your own the next year (while still getting feedback) - that is a specific goal to help you grow and discern your calling
  • serve, serve, serve - we discern our calling as we actively seek to serve in the Body. We may find out we are not so good at some things - that is okay. It is a process to discover where we are really gifted. So take the time to serve and discover your gifts and then set goals for using and bettering those gifts.

Advice when making big decisions:

  • pray persistently and wait long enough for God to alter circumstances - give it some prayer and time if possible
  • seek wise council from people who have clearly made wise decisions in this area in the past
  • be aligned with Scripture
  • when it comes time to make a decision, go for it - make the wisest decision you know how to

I really like this book on discerning God’s will - a pastor friend pointed it out to me and it was very refreshing. Best one I’ve personally read yet.

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Thank you Matthew, that is a very helpful perspective :slight_smile: I’ll look into Anxious for Nothing, sounds like a very good read!
Thank you

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Thank you for the encouragement Peter. That advice sounds very sound, I’ll take it to heart :slight_smile:
Thank you!

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Thank you for the advice Sean. It’s very rare to have someone encourage you to think for yourself! I love the advice about what tugs your heart and setting goals to pursue it. I’ve got “big” dreams about wanting to help disadvantaged people in my wider country but always been told to wait. That’s refreshing to think about it differently. Also looking forward to checking out the book :slight_smile:
Thank you!

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@Tiab Definitely - may Christ lead your steps as you pursue new opportunities :slight_smile:

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