Christians talk a lot about finding God's will and following it. We often don't make decisions because we are not sure if it is God's will. So what is God's will and how do we find it? What does it mean to be following his will?
I doubt there is anyone who can give you an exact answer to those questions. It's quite annoying, isn't it?
I had one very old and very wise professor at college who explained God's will in this way:
Imagine there are two lines leading down the path of life. Everything within those two lines is in God's will. So it does not necessarily matter where you go, as long as you remain within those two lines.
That's a very nice illustration. I like it because it seems to give us more freedom, instead of being dictated by some large authority that THIS is where we must go and THIS is what we must do. I like being able to have a choice. Even if I agree with where someone is telling me to go, I will fight to be able to make it my own choice.
So is that it then? We get to choose to do anything, as long as it is something God would approve of?
I don't think it always works out that way.
Sometimes, God gives us options. Like when I first started going to Indiana Wesleyan and I had an interview in the library, right after I had made out a schedule to work in the dining hall. As a newbie, the thought never crossed my mind that I could work both, and so my first week at college I was frustrated by having to make what I considered a major life decision. To work in the library or the dining hall, that is the question.
So I prayed. I asked God which job he wanted me to work. And I imagined him smiling down on frustrated, freaked out little me and saying, "Oh sweetie. You're a big girl; I trust you. You can pick."
Whaaat? I get a choice? Well, yeah, sometimes God gives us several opportunities and lets us pick. It's a pretty cool deal. And just for the record, I did pick the dining hall, and I am eternally grateful for the experiences I had there.
But sometimes God does have something specific in mind for us. Sometimes you just feel incredibly uncertain about everything else, and feel this slight nudging that is always reminding you of that one specific thing. Like when I actually picked to go to Indiana Wesleyan. I wanted to go to Asbury, but while I was there visiting, God wouldn't let me forget about IWU. In fact, I had forgotten about IWU, but they wouldn't let me alone. When I got a message in a bottle from them (No, I am NOT kidding), well that really did get my attention.
I've tried to plan a lot of different paths for my life since I graduated. I came close to moving to Florida, and closer to moving back to Indiana (Yes, the state where my friend hit a PIG on the highway). But I stayed home. And I was not happy, but with a lot of praying and a lot of grudgingly allowing God to lead me, I found myself right back where I started. Living in the bedroom where I grew up.
Sooo...what is there to do now but find a job where I can make as much money as possible, save it up, and THEN move somewhere (like, you know, Florida or Kansas City where they make Hallmark cards!). So here we go with the job applications.
And honestly, I really don't mind food service. In fact, I kind of enjoy it. So I applied at a restaurant. And I had an interview. And the next day I had a second interview. And interviewer #2 told me he would talk to interviewer #1 and then I should call back between 8-10 the next night.
Of course, all this time I had something else on my mind. The after school program run by the YMCA. Because I was looking up what time I could go to zumba and aqua zumba classes, and I learned that employees get free membership. So I checked out their openings, and the only thing was the after school program. Mmmm...no. Not really my thing. Incredibly similar to what I did at camp all summer but still, not my thing.
But this thought wouldn't leave my mind. Is that how you tell if it is God's will...if you can't forget about it? Or maybe if it doesn't make any sense...? But at this point, I was positive that the restaurant would hire me, and since I felt like quite a bum, sitting around my parent's house baking cookies all day, I didn't think the world would look too fondly on me for turning down a well-paying job.
Daddy recently preached a sermon (or was it somebody at camp?)...someone recently preached a sermon about a man whose son was sick, and he asked Jesus to heal him. Jesus told him that if he had faith, his son would be healed. The man replied, "I believe! Help my unbelief!"
In other words, God, I really do believe in you, but in this particular situation I'm feeling a little unsure, so help me to be able to trust you.
So back to me...I literally told God that I did not have the faith to turn down a job offer. Maybe that's pathetic, but that's my life. So when I called the restaurant a little after 8, I was told the manager would be busy until 9:30. So I called back after 9:30 and talked to interviewer #1 who said, "So why are you calling?" Basically, they hadn't talked, so she promised they would later and then she would call me back, but she also told me the orientation was already full. And of course, she never called back.
So I print out my application for the Y. I turn in my application. I get a call an hour later asking if I can come in for an interview that afternoon. And one week later, I am about to begin my training for the after school program.
I'm actually pretty excited about this; I think it will be fun! And work, of course, because you know, it is a job. It's a part time job and I'm still living with my parents, but I can tell you for sure right now that this is where God wants me. And as a follower of God, that is the best I can do with my life.