Some excellent advice from Mark Altrogge on knowing God’s will


“I don’t know what God wants me to do with my life.”  “I’m not sure I’m in the center of God’s will.”  “What if I miss what God has for me?”

Christians often talk about God’s will like it’s the rare and elusive Blue-Tailed Eastern Moon Moth that might suddenly flit out of the forest the moment they set their nets down, and escape them forever.

We wish God would just speak audibly to us.  “Go to art school and become an Abstract Expressionist,” “Move to Mozambique,” or “Marry Lou Lou.”  We want signs in the sky or in the grease stain on the driveway.

But if we pray and trust him, God promises to guide us.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you” (PS 32.8).  “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1.5).

Simple.  Ask and you’ll receive.

We make God’s will so complicated.  Like the young engaged man who asked me:

“What if I marry the wrong person?”

“Are you attracted to her?” I asked.


“Did you pray about the relationship?”

“For weeks.”

“Did you get counsel?”

“From my pastors, parents, and D.A. Carson.”

“Does she have godly character?”

“If she were any more godly she’d be raptured.”

“Then she’s the one for you.”

“But what if we get married and someone else comes along who’s more attractive?”

“It will probably happen.  But the one you marry is the one God has for you.”

God’s will isn’t a deep, dark mystery we have to solve.

He isn’t playing hide and seek or throwing out red herrings to throw us off the track.  “Aha!” we can almost hear him saying, “You thought I was calling you to be a nurse, but I really wanted you to teach music.  Now you’ve got to settle for plan B.”

Here’s how to know God’s will.   It’s sitting on your coffee table.  Or in your backpack.  It’s there in your Bible.

Sorry to be so unspectacular.  But knowing God’s will is just this simple:  Open Bible.  Read.  Do what it says.  In fact, at times the Bible comes right out and says, “This is God’s will.”  For example:

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor (1 TH 4.3-4).

Here’s God’s will: grow in holiness and purity.  Don’t selfishly use others.  Increase in self-control.

But that sounds like effort.  Like raking leaves.  We’d rather pull God’s will from a fortune cookie than do the hard work of sanctification.  Here’s another verse:

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 TH 5.16-18).

Learn to pray and praise God in every situation and he’ll let you know if you should move to Mozambique.  Lay down your life for others and he’ll direct your career.  Take care of the depth of your character and Christ will take care of the breadth of your ministry.  Read your Bible, pray, devote yourself to a local church, serve, share the gospel any way you can.  Jesus won’t let you miss his will.