How do I know what God wants me to do?

What do you like doing? What are you good at? What are you uniquely gifted to do?

I ignored these questions for 25 years. That is to say, I'm sure I wasn't asking them as a toddler in terms of what occupation to pursue as an adult. Rather, in my high school and college years I was too concerned with what other people were doing and what they expected of me, people I really respected.

I'm a rule-follower by nature. Give me a rule, and I will follow it to the letter. But ask me what I want to do, and I become flustered. Surely, God doesn't want me to pursue the things I like. That's so worldly. No, surely He wants me to always choose the hard thing, the seemingly noble thing. Surely, God is a taskmaster waiting for me to mess up so He can scold me. This is a sadistic view of God. This is the wrong view. But this is the view I naturally gravitate toward. And it is the one I must seek Him in order to destroy. The Bible tells us God is a good father:

  • "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows" (James 1:17).
  • "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" (Matthew 7:11)

God Is Not Out to Kill Our Desires

God's Word promises that if I "[d]elight [myself] in the Lord[,] ...he will give [me] the desires of [my] heart" (Psalm 37:4). God has put gifts and desires in me that are good. Not all desires are bad! Yes, we are sinful people, and yes, we need the blood of Jesus to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). But God created each of us with a purpose. He put desires in of every person that are good and need to be accomplished. Sometimes, we just need to pursue what we want.

God is a good father. Hebrews explains how "[o]ur [earthly] fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness" (Hebrews 12:10). If we are off track in our desires, God in His righteousness will bring us back. He is the best father, and He makes no mistakes. We can trust Him to discipline us for our good and correct our trajectory.

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you" (1 Peter 5:6-7). If I want something, I need to ask why. If it doesn't contradict God's Word, I can move forward in it, humbly and confident in God's goodness.

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