recovery in Christ when life is broken

How Do I Know God's Plan?

Knowing the will of God has always been a bit of a mystery for me. I recently shared a struggle with a group of friends. One of them told me immediately that he “received a word” from God on what I should do. I wish that I could hear God’s audible voice, but He has not communicated with me in this way. As with my friend, many people have varying opinions on how to discern God’s will.

I am not convinced that God talks audibly to many people, but I am convinced that He has already revealed much of His will through “His Word,” the Bible. I also believe that through His Word, prayer, and His people, God reveals His sovereign plan for our lives over time.

We can and should know God’s revealed will through the Bible. To know His plan for us, we must pray (Proverbs 3:6), study what God has already said, and trust Him to orchestrate the rest for our good (Romans 8:28). God’s sovereign will for our lives today will never contradict what He has already revealed through Scripture. He tells us to meditate and memorize His Word (Joshua 1:8, Colossians 3:16), so that we can internalize how He wants us to live daily. If you are like me, I sometimes have difficulty spending any time in God’s Word, let alone committing it to memory.  

While God sovereignly directs the course of our lives, He does not always immediately reveal the specifics of our path (like who to marry or which house to buy). Why not? Because He wants us to learn how to trust Him when things are not clear, and to rely upon the resources He has provided to grow our faith and character.

Can we know His specific direction for our lives today, if there is not a clear biblical answer? Yes, and no! God wants us to pray, pouring our desires, fears, concerns, and frustrations to him (James 1:5). He wants us to search His Word for answers, and to follow His will even when we don’t understand (Romans 11:33-34). He also wants us to open our lives to other Christians so that the Holy Spirit can work through our like minded relationships (Proverbs 18:1). Through prayer, His Word, and His people, God sovereignly directs our daily decisions while teaching us to trust Him in authentic fellowship of other Christians.

Without prayer, knowing God’s Word, or the wisdom of other Christians, it is easy to make bad decisions based on feelings (like marrying a non-Christian or amassing debt by falling into the trap of materialism).

God’s plan for my life is more peaceful when I spend time with Him in prayer, study His Word, and seek godly counsel from my Christian community. His path for me is clearer when I remain focused on doing what He has already revealed in Scripture. I may not have an immediate answer for every decision, but through the resources He has provided, I have come to know God deeper and trust His character.  Ultimately, He is the source of my joy and satisfaction in life.

 

God wants the best for His children (Romans 8:27-29). Each decision we make in life may not turn out perfect, but if I avoid the patterns of the World, pursue God with all my heart (Deuteronomy 6:5-6, Romans 12:1-2), seek godly counsel to avoid blind spots (Proverbs 15:22), and trust Him with the final decision, I like my probability for God’s blessing as I live daily in His sovereign plan.

-Shawn P.

How Can You Know God’s Will in the Midst of Recovery

I remember the feeling of desperation during the first couple of months of alcoholism recovery. I felt like everything, literally everything, was changing. I was going through a divorce, living on a friend’s couch, owned only two boxes of clothes, and my sales job became unappealing because I was only there to try to get rich. But the LORD had suddenly changed my heart and identity. I was even questioning if the city in which I was living was best for me given my unhealthy relationships and addiction patterns.

When I told my sponsor, “I feel like I need to quit my job and move, once the house sells,” he said, “We don’t recommend any big life changes during your recovery.” I responded with something like, “I don’t understand how I can not make big changes in my recovery. I have been living as ‘lord of my own life’ for the past 12 years. I am self-destructing. I feel desperate for big changes—especially to follow God and His will for me.” I searched for articles on how to know the will of God. I had lived by my own selfish, sinful wisdom and was afraid of making more decisions apart from knowing God’s direction.

God says that if you lack wisdom, He will give it to you if you ask (James 1:5). He wants to lead you. God knows what is best. The following Seven Cs will help you know God’s will according to His word. Try to place your situation through all seven of these principles. If you focus solely on one principle, you may misinterpret God’s will. God’s answer becomes clearer as you filter your situation through all seven. For instance, if you just go off conviction—knowing that the heart is deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9)—your personal desires might cloud your decision. But, if your conviction lines up with God’s Word, the counsel of other Christians, capabilities, etc., you can begin to have a confidence that you’re following His will.

Seven Cs of discerning God’s Will: 

  1. Communication with God (prayer to know His will; Psalm 139:23-24)
  2. Conviction (a sense of right and wrong from God that aligns with His word; 1 Corinthians 2:12-16)
  3. Church (leaders of your local church; Hebrews 13:17)
  4. Community (counsel through those committed to helping you grow spiritually; Proverbs 15:22)
  5. Canon (God’s word, the Bible; 2 Timothy 3:16-17)
  6. Circumstances (Is this decision even a possibility? Paul felt called to return to Thessalonica but circumstances—as organized by Satan—prevented him 1 Thessalonians 2:8)
  7. Capabilities (Are you able according to your gifts? For example, you may feel passionate about being a worship leader but you are unable to sing; 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, 1 Peter 4)

When I was considering quitting my job and going into a one-year discipleship program, I unknowingly used the steps listed above. I pleaded with God to direct me (1). I felt in my spirit that I was done chasing money to get rich (2). My pastor and his wife thought the discipleship program sounded like a great option (3). Christians close to me thought it was a good idea (though some coworkers and drinking friends thought it was extreme) (4). Proverbs 16:16 says “How much better to get wisdom than gold.” (5). I tried some business interviews and they didn’t progress; I applied and interviewed with the discipleship program and they gave me a full scholarship and a work-study job (6). I eagerly desired to know God’s word and to be discipled…I sensed I was going to be in ministry the rest of my life (7).

All of that combined, I made the decision to enter the discipleship program and it was one of the best decisions of my life. I had peace, joy and confirmation as I followed that road. It was so freeing to trust God and not lean on my own understanding like I did in the past. Though the process of discerning God’s may take some time and wrestling, the result is so good and freeing.

God loves you. He wants to help you make big decisions and small decisions. He has a divine plan for you and has gifted you for a purpose in this plan. If your desire is to honor God in all you do, he will show you the path to take.

Romans 12:1-2, I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

-John E.

recovery in Christ when life is broken.