Figuring out God's will for your life can sometimes feel like driving to a new place without a GPS: things look unfamiliar and you can feel uncertain and lost. On top of that is the problem of the backseat driver—a well-meaning friend or family member who nonetheless adds to the confusion, especially when their advice contradicts what you believe God is telling you to do.
Paul experienced this when, heading for Jerusalem after wrapping up his third mission trip, he kept hearing dire warnings everywhere he went. Fellow believers warned him not to go to Jerusalem or he would be imprisoned. They were relaying messages they believed came by the Holy Spirit, but Paul had his own divine marching orders: "I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 21:13).
Paul's experience reveals four components we can use to find and follow God's way for our lives:
1. The guidance principle. When Paul was first figuring out where to go next, he "purposed in the Spirit" (Acts 19:21) to leave a fruitful season in Ephesus and go to Jerusalem. In making this decision, he was walking by faith, not by sight. Faith is what turns on God's GPS, so to speak. Faith gives you access to God's network as you trust that He will guide you according to His will. You may not know exactly where that will lead you, but are you willing to trust Him anyway?
2. The guidance person. You can trust the Holy Spirit to guide you into God's will for your life; Jesus promised that the Spirit would guide us into all truth (see John 16:13). Paul received all the testimonies from the Spirit that told him chains awaited him in Jerusalem, but he didn't let that knock him off the course he believed the Spirit set him on: "None of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus" (Acts 20:24).
3. The guidance predicament. There will be competition when it comes to the voice of God, as Paul discovered. Sometimes other voices won't say what the Lord is saying—but that can still help you confirm what He is saying. Sometimes other voices bring balance and help you adjust your direction. And sometimes other voices clarify God's guidance.
4. The guidance particulars. Paul navigated his predicament by three stars, so to speak:
- His personal conviction: Paul had deeply held beliefs that were based on his experience with God and developed over time.
- Scriptural direction: Paul saturated his mind with God's Word so that walking in God's will was second nature.
- Accountable instruction: Paul sought godly counsel from other believers, trusting God's purposes for fellowship.
To sum up, God's will for your life is less a road map and more a set of life principles. Living by faith and trusting the Spirit to guide you takes a lot of the mystery out of it. It doesn't mean it won't be hard, but it does mean you will discover God's purpose and provision in it.
Someone once said, "Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and then do whatever you want." That's good advice, because as you're loving the Lord with all you are and seeking Him in all things, He's going to put within you the desire to do the things He "prepared beforehand that [you] should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10).