How do I Know God's Will?
Dr. Bill Gaultiere
I'm 20 years old, just starting college. I have dream to be an artist. I think about it all the time. How do know if this is God's will for me? Following God is the most important thing in my life and I'm afraid to go in the wrong direction. What do I do?
I admire your dedication to doing God's will. It isn't easy to know God's will in specific life decisions such as this. I've found it to be a process that usually takes longer than I want!
I can see that you're already heading in the right direction though! You have a dream and your seeking God's will. That is a winning combination. One of my favorite Bible verses is Psalm 16:7, "I will praise the Lord who counsels me, even at night my heart instructs me." In other words, one of the ways the Lord counsels us through our dreams and passions! The dreams of our hearts often connect us to God and His purposes. Indeed, if you can marry God's blessing and your passion you will be sure to accomplish great things and have much to praise the Lord for.
I think that the process of knowing God's will for a life decision such as this is something like climbing a mountain. You begin with a vision of the mountain and a dream of climbing to the top. You might be a little afraid to get lost or to have a problem on the way, but mostly you're excited to get to the top.
For a long hike you may have a map and a compass and all sorts of camping gear and supplies. And yet, as you go along the trail you come across many forks in the path and have to decide which way to go. It can be quite difficult to know which is the better path. And often they'll both get you to the same place, but by a different route.
As you get higher the hiking gets harder and your initial enthusiasm may wane. You see a peak and think you're close to your goal, but once you reach that peak you see that another peak is ahead. You're increasingly subject to the elements heat or cold, rain or wind. And you continue to encounter unexpected forks in the road and still higher peaks until you realize - in wonderful ways and in challenging ways - this mountain you're climbing is so much more than you initially anticipated!
And when you've reached the top and hiked back down the first thing you're likely to say is, "I wonder which mountain I'd like to climb next!"
That's the way it is with finding God's will. You begin with a dream or a sense of calling from God of where you're going to go. You have a number of tools at your disposal to help you choose your path and guide you along the way and yet the way may still seem uncertain and you will surely encounter many unexpected blessings and difficulties along the way. And as soon as you accomplish your goal you need to find another goal to guide you.
Perhaps more than anything else, this process of discovering and accomplishing God's will for your life is what gives life meaning and joy. Proverbs 29:18 says, "Where there is no vision the people perish." They die through wasted opportunities. They die in depression and despair.
You've already taken the two most important steps in your journey. You have a dream and you're seeking to do God's will for your life. Where to go from here? How do you know if indeed God is calling to attempt to accomplish your goal of becoming an artist?
Here are seven questions I ask myself in order to know God's will for my life. I use seven as opposed to just one or two because the Bible counsels us to "test the spirits" when seeking to hear from God (1 John 4:1). When most of these seven line up in one direction then I know that I'm making a good choice. Having the confidence of knowing that I started down a particular path for good reasons helps when, along the way, I am tested by forks the in path, bad weather, and still higher peaks that challenge my resolve.
If you've earnestly sought answers to these questions and still you're not sure that God is behind your dream of becoming an artist then I think you're best to proceed anyway. If you're wrong and your dream takes you outside of God's will then He'll show you. Just remain open to Him and continue to seek His will in prayer. You can even pray that He'd stop you if it is not right. If indeed it's good and right for you to do then He'll confirm it at certain points along the way.
May God bless your dream for you, others, and His glory!