How do we choose what path to take?
We have more opportunities than any generation before us. Technology, material wealth, and a global interconnectedness presents the average American Millennial with more potential than our parents could have ever imagined. In this cacophony, we routinely wonder — and worry — what direction our lives will take.
For the believer, we are told to trust God and know that his will is perfect. Pulpit axioms and best-selling books echo themes to the effect of the Lord’s words to Jeremiah: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
God desires good for his children (Romans 8:28). This theme is repeated throughout his word and is true. But Paul has more specificity to add to God’s will for our lives. Paul states it in 1 Thessalonians 4:3, “For this is the will of God — your holiness.”
The Plans You Have for You
I hate everything the prosperity “gospel” stands for, but too often I live like one who believes it. When I think about God’s good plans for me, I picture getting married and raising a family as soon as possible, becoming a mid-level manager by 30, and retiring comfortably at 60. In other words, my way of viewing God’s plan for me looks oddly like the American Dream.
These things are all good gifts, and there’s nothing immoral about wishing for a comfortable life in the right context. In fact, we should pray that God blesses us and his people. The problem arises when we wish for such temporary things more than the ultimate joy received through sanctification.
The reality is that for most of church history — and in most of the world today — Christians have been severely oppressed, marginalized, and killed for their beliefs. Observe the lives of the early apostles; almost all of them were martyred. For most Christians, seeking God’s will doesn’t look like fretting over career decisions, but learning how to live for God’s glory when the stakes are high and the costs steep.