While many people ask why God does not show them His will for their lives I have come to a simple conclusion. He does not need to.
He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? Micah 6:8
When I was four years old, I remember sitting in church, knowing – not wishing or hoping – knowing I would be preaching the gospel one day. However, as I became older, it was unclear to me if my preaching would be as a paid pastor or as a lay pastor.
Each spring, as high school graduates contemplate their future, I hear the question, “What does God want me to do with my life?” Regardless if they are planning on college or going straight into the work force I sometimes hear them say, “I wish God would tell me what He wants me to do.”
After one year of college I was not sure if I was really “supposed” to be a full-time preacher or gospel worker. I mean I knew I loved Jesus and wanted to share his love with others, but doesn’t every Christian do that? How do I know if I had been called? My life was in a fog.
I started working for a business forms company, and I started dating a young lady who attended a small Adventist church outside of Tulsa where I lived. I left the larger church in Tulsa to be with her. Things did not work out between us like I dreamed, and she moved away. Something told me to stay at the small church instead of going back to the larger church. I have to admit I did not know why I was doing what I was doing. It may have been that I did not want to admit she was the only reason I came there to begin with. Not long after that, two literature evangelists joined that small church, and invited me to join them. I left the business forms company and became a literature evangelist. Soon afterwards, a new pastor came to our church and asked me to be his Bible Worker. Soon after, he moved to Texas and hired me down there. Several times I thought about finishing college but the time just never seemed right.
After I had been a Bible Worker for a few years in Texas, a friend got me hired on part time at UPS for some extra income, and so that I would have health benefits for my fiancé. Well, once again things did not work out between me and my love, and she politely broke up with me. The next morning when my 2 AM alarm went off to go to UPS, my first thought was, why go in? The person I got the job for has left me. For some reason, as much I hated getting up that early, I did it anyway. (Never mind the fact that I also had a broken heart that morning and severe depression.) I was in a fog and had no idea why I was still working at UPS. I had no idea, but God did. A few weeks later, the church in which I was a Bible Worker had to let me go due to lack of funds and other financial obligations. UPS became my only job!
After working my way to supervisor at UPS, my sister sent me a notice of a church in Tampa Florida needing a Bible Worker. I had no interest in moving to Florida. I had sunk my roots in Texas. However, one night I emailed my resume to Tampa, just to hush my family who kept asking me about it. I figured by now they had already filled the position. But I got a call from Tampa the next morning, and less than two months later I was a full-time Bible Worker in Tampa.
While many people talk of glory days gone by, I must say my current years have been the best years of my life. As I look back I see God has brought me to where He wants me to be without me even knowing what His plan was. God did not tell me why I was staying at that small church after my girl friend left me, but He knew. He never told me, “Stay,” but looking back I know it was His plan. The morning after my fiancé broke up with me, I did not see any reason to go to my second job at UPS at 2 AM any more. I only got the job so she would have benefits. Looking back, I know God had me get that job because He knew my Bible Worker job was coming to an end. He never told me that. He didn’t need to. He had it all under control, without me knowing what the plan was, while my head and heart were still in a fog.
Now some people have taken a much easier and shorter route to get to where they are today. They just went to college and straight to their lifetime career. Do I regret taking the longer road? Not at all! Sometimes the shorter, easier route is not the best way to go. Does it sometimes seem like you took the long road to get to a goal in your life? Before you blame yourself for your mistakes, consider that it may have been the exact road God wanted you to take.
“When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea. Thus the Israelites left Egypt like an army ready for battle.” Exodus 13:17-18 NLT
Do you feel like your head is in a fog now? Do you feel like you have no direction? I say that as long as you do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God, don’t worry about it. You may be exactly where God wants you to be. God can make it all work out without telling us at all what is going on. I knew at an early age I would be a preacher one day, but did not know exactly how it would all work out, or that I would be preaching and sharing the gospel as a paid Bible Worker, with the title “lay pastor” tagged on. I also never knew, while sitting in the church pew, as a four-year-old in the 1960’s, that sharing the gospel would also include writing articles for a Sabbath School blog on something called the Internet! Its not exactly how I pictured it while I sat in church as a little boy thinking about it. But God worked it all out on His own. And while it is not exactly how I imagined it would be, it is exceedingly more wonderful than I ever dreamed it could be!
While my head was in a fog, God led the way. I did not need to know if God wanted me to be a paid gospel worker or just a faithful Christian in the secular work force. All I needed, was to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God. And that, my friend, you can do in any line of work, anywhere.
25 comment(s) for this post:
- Elaine Benjamin:
14 May 2013
Amen! Now you are touching more lives than just the members of your local church. Imagine, you touched me.
- Lourdes Vargas:
14 May 2013
Thanks for sharing your story! I just love the pict of that little boy in his little pulpit, how sweet of your father to make you one.
It is true, life is what happens to us on the way, I wonder how surprised we will be in heaven to see the behind the scenes stories of our lives when we thought we were in the “wrong” place!
- Siddell Bloodsaw:
14 May 2013
Honestly, William! I dont know WHERE you get your ideas to write from, but i praise God all the time for you! Gotta meet you in person! I asked this question loads of times, and wow this is just something i will share!
Awesome stuff 😀
- Tyler Cluthe:
14 May 2013
Soren, below is a quote from Ellen White that may help you to decide what to do with your life. Often times we become too narrow in our thinking about what God allows us to do. She opens that up just as the Ten Commandments only tells us what not to do while giving us freedom to do anything else.
Dear youth, what is the aim and purpose of your life? Are you ambitious for education that you may have a name and position in the world? Have you thoughts that you dare not express, that you may one day stand upon the summit of intellectual greatness; that you may sit in deliberative and legislative councils, and help to enact laws for the nation? There is nothing wrong in these aspirations. You may every one of you make your mark. You should be content with no mean attainments. Aim high, and spare no pains to reach the standard.
The fear of the Lord lies at the foundation of all true greatness. Integrity, unswerving integrity, is the principle that you need to carry with you into all the relations of life. Take your religion into your school-life, into your boarding-house, into all your pursuits. The important question with you now is, how to so choose and perfect your studies that you will maintain the solidity and purity of an untarnished Christian character, holding all temporal claims and interests in subjection to the higher claims of the gospel of Christ. You want now to build as you will be able to furnish, to so relate yourself to society and to life that you may answer the purpose of God in your creation. As disciples of Christ, you are not debarred from engaging in temporal pursuits; but you should carry your religion with you. Whatever the business you may qualify yourself to engage in, never entertain the idea that you cannot make a success of it without sacrificing principle.
Balanced by religious principle, you may climb to any height you please. We would be glad to see you rising to the noble elevation God designs that you shall reach. Jesus loves the precious youth; and He is not pleased to see them grow up with uncultivated, undeveloped talents. They may become strong men of firm principle, fitted to be intrusted with high responsibilities, and to this end they may lawfully strain every nerve.
But never commit so great a crime as to pervert your God-given powers to devil and destroy others. (Fundamentals of Christian Education, p 82.2-83.2)
- William Earnhardt:
14 May 2013
Sammy, I know that opportunity will come. Don’t worry. God does not give us gifts without also giving opportunity to use them. Right now your gift of parenting is the most important job in the universe!
- William Earnhardt:
14 May 2013
Thank you all for your encouraging comments. It is encouraging to know we all want to be in harmony with God. He has nothing but the best planned for us.
- goran bosanac:
14 May 2013
In my country there is a saying: man is dreaming but God is determining (or predestinating).
Against will is not in strict sense. Of course there is deep harmony between God and man’s will but is not right away recognised. Yes, you said right that it is because I (we) go astray and did some major sins. Even Paul said He is not preaching from his will but woe to him if he does not preach. If he preach from his will there will be due pay for him but he said he was chosen in his mother’s womb for this. Even he wanted to kill Christians and participate in murdering Stephen!
- Racheal Hamoonga Mafu:
15 May 2013
Thank you for the encouraging words. I have a 6 year old son who sometimes seems not to understand the plans I lay down for him for the week. However, when time has passed and he sees the outcome of the plans, he comes back and says thank you, you meant well but I didn’t know. It’s a lesson am still learning that we need to totally Trust God, His plans are always perfect unlike mine to my son, yet my son doesn’t lose trust in me. As parents and guardians let’s trust God and this trust will overflow to our little ones, remember we are all God’s little children. Thank you
15 May 2013
Dear Heurtar, thank you for sharing your experience with a common situation that I think many of us can relate to. Twenty-some years ago when I was going to college, I wan’t sure I was making the right decisions and it felt like my entire future would be riding on the course/career I took. But I have found that this is not actually the case. One can change careers completely at any point in life, and even if you do, it doesn’t feel like “a waste” or “having to go back” at all, just taking a new turn on a path of life. As Robert Frost said, “way leads onto way” [Road Less Travelled], and the truth is, most of us do find fulfillment in whatever our careers as long as we are “serving God and keeping his commandments”.
Personally, I have enjoyed the career I chose way more than I ever expected; I feel really blessed and consider it a big part of my Ministry for God. But Our ministry can always be bigger than any specific career. Yet Jesus did carpentry for many years and I expect he enjoyed his work and did it well and blessed others in the course of it. Sometimes one’s most satifying impact is in the thing we earn at, and sometimes it’s through something that one volunteers at. I suspect that Paul found that both his training and his ability to earn independently through tent-making gave him a sense of confidence, a freedom to act and speak as he was impressed. Sometimes in the middle of your life, even though you are serving God, He calls you to do something unexpected, and the thing is that you are ready for it and the preceding experiences contributed to that readiness, perhaps in a way that only He understood at the time.
I have found that when I feel like I must make big decisions it is good to just pray frequently. My best experience has been when instead of praying narrowly, focused on a specific outcome or a clean answer (what career/course should I take? Is this the person I should marry?) I have just expressed my feelings – fears, anxieties, anger, sadness, happiness – and desires to Him without reserve, opening my self up to God, while also reading his word and being still. There is a peculiar peace that one experiences then – the comfort that He has it all under control. Sometimes the “still small voice” simply says, “just keep going and keep your ears open – if you are veering off, I’ll let you know”, (Isaiah 30:21). To me,”waiting on the Lord” doesn’t mean just folding your hands but trusting Him, listening to Him, and keeping an open heart and mind. Phil 4:6-7 and Psalm 139:2 , Isaiah 26:3 are some of my favourites now. Our Creator truly knows us better than anyone, including ourselves: the deepest desires of our hearts that we cannot even articulate, even the deepest-buried subconscious beliefs, fears and wounds that we are not even aware of and that need healing. And as far as we allow, as long as it is our deep desire to serve him, he will take care of us and will give us exactly we need (even if it is what we feel like we need at the time)to keep growing and to serve Him better, which is happiness.
Practically speaking, I think that as long as the course you are doing now is an area that interesting, that you would feel comfortable with doing or working at, at least for now, you can go ahead and just complete your course, especially if it includes some useful skill. You will have a sense of accomplishment and something tangible that may at the very least come in handy in the future.
You mentioned that you felt you might be depressed. In that case I would definitely encourage you to see a Christian professional about it. If you are experiencing sadness most of the time, or anxiety, sleeplessness or oversleeping, changes in your appetite, feeling hopeless or worthless, not enjoying things that are usually pleasant for you, and difficulty concentrating or making day-to-day decisions, these may certainly be symptoms of depression. This is, the seratonin-levels or other neurotransmitters in the brain may be a bit down. Many students experience this, often induced by the daily stress of college and life in general. But it is quite treatable – talk therapy, meds, rest, exercise, even some foods are very effective in getting things in balance again. You may be amazed to see how your perpective can change when you are feeling better.
Thanks again for sharing; I am praying for you that you will feel better soon and that God will continue to guide and bless you!
- Uche Ajike:
15 May 2013
Hello Tyler, I love your comment. God has different ways of revealing himself and his purpose for us. He makes it very simple that we most times tend to ignore it because we have “THE POWER OF CHOICE”. Our abuse of the power of choice is the problem we have today. The truth is God never forgets His creatures. He spends his time taking care of us and teaching us lessons that would be useful for us anytime we come back to track.
I love Him most because most times after lots of negligence by us, like Saul(Paul) and Jonah, God does it by force. That usually come with mark or pain for remembrance sake.
- Uche Ajike:
15 May 2013
Hello William. Am proud to share this to anyone and everyone. We all need this type of testimony for continuous encouragement and faith.
Just want to add this favorite quote of mine.
“Life incidence are no coincidence; Its a divine orchestration implemented by choice”.
I came up with this quote when I was asking myself this same question you just gave us a response to. I realized from my research and findings that God has a final fulfilling purpose for us here on earth. But He is a great God that create ways where there seems to be no way. He is the master planner and all his plans is to get us to our hope expected end where we would be and the rich would say we are strong and the poor would say we are rich. The only issue is that there are lots of ways; some are short, some are long, some are crooked, some are smooth and some are a mixture(divine orchestration). All those ways are perfect if we only realize that God is with us through it all and we must consistently put our trust in Him. The so many paths or ways now leaves us with a decision on which path to follow. The decision to follow a path is our CHOICE. The type of choice we make now lies in the level of our relationship with God. Abraham made the choice, Cain and Abel made the choice,Jacob too, David and Saul too made the choice.
I would end with the bible text William referenced Micah 6:8. This should be our guide. God helps us all.
- Lurlyn Murray-Tull:
16 May 2013
This testimony is just what I needed. I have completed University about two years now, and I have not gotten a permanent job as yet. Sometimes it is daunting and frustrating, especially because, like the author of this blog, I had it all worked out in my mind. I dreamed that when I was finished studying I will get my dream job soon after, but God had a different plan for my life. I have been working in temporary jobs ever since, however, it has been reinforced in my mind by reading this blog, that though I am not seeing or knowing what God is doing, He is working ALL things out for my God and one day I will see clearly.
- Josphat bitok:
17 May 2013
Hi,happy sabbath,as 4 me i feel lyk am da most confused young follower of christ,am saying this from ma hrt.the whole thing is i feel lyk God has a plan 4 ma lyf which is in dark 2 me.ma spirit is flactuating always:lyk whn i pray hard i feel closer 2 God bt atimes the secular lyf takes me unawearly till ma spirit lands on a rock,i admit this coz one day i was gven an opp 2 preach n members told me am good @ dat,dat was whn ma spirit was up! Am a student persuing accouts.i hope God wil shw me what he wants me 2 do.
- Horace Brady:
18 May 2013
I remember growing up in Jamaica there was a strong man of integrity who wanted to go into politics and he did; however after three months he had to resign because he recognize that he could not change the corruption of it and he was never willing to give up principle for politics. I would recommend you asking GOD for direction in ways that you can be of greatest good to society. My suggestion to you is in evangelism.
- Robert Whiteman:
18 May 2013
Josphat, read Psalm 37:3-7 and follow that. Pray for God’s leading, claim Psalm 32:8 and follow the instructions as He brings them to you. He will bring them, often in mysterious ways. Ask Him to open and close the doors for you and He will. Proverbs 3:5,6
Yes, there are up days and down days in the Christian life. It is a fight of faith every day. God will prove us at every step, with the intention of leading us onward to stand in His presence one day soon.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart.
- tom howard:
19 May 2013
Tyler, why would you say that God did not chose Paul? If any man was chosen by the Lord, it was Paul Acts 9:15, “….for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name,,,”. Galatians 1:15,”But it pleased God, who separated me from my mothers womb and called me..” He knew he was chosen,so much so that he said it was a ‘necessity’ to do so. 1 Corinthians 9:16. Only a chosen vessel could receive the Gospel by the “revelation of Jesus Christ” himself.Galatians 1:12.
- Janu Soares:
20 May 2013
Thank you for sharing. such a powerful message.
I was praying this morning and crying out to the Lord, telling Him that i dont want to fail my thesis that is due in 5 weeks times. I am writing my thesis at the moment and since English is like my third language make it even harder. I know that it seems impossible to finish it at the moment but i beleive that through Christ i can do anything, amen!
I have never been this stresful in my life, but knowing that Jesus is there 24/7 make me strong again. I am not afraid of failure now! because i beleive that His plan is perfect and whatever happens in the next 5 weeks i will still beleive that He is control in everything.
Thank you and may God continue to bless the work of your hand.
- Robert Whiteman:
20 May 2013
I like your illustration of the chess board Tyler, but I have a different view of it.
If we study Ezekiel’s vision, we see that God’s hand controls all movements for His purpose, so it is in fact much like a chess board. If those pieces had their own minds and did what they thought best from their view, it would not go well. Unlike the pieces on a chess board, we exercise choice and we must, but our Example demonstrated the choice we must make; to be fully submitted to God’s leading, and He will “direct your path”. If we do not willingly allow God full control we will go astray every time. We simply do not poses the divine wisdom on our own.
I must add that Paul did not follow God’s lead in every instance and his choice to follow his own desire led to his imprisonment and eventual execution, which cut short his service. Still, God used him with the imposed limitations, and had foreseen it long before. God is merciful and is never caught by surprise and has the perfect plan for all who yield fully to His leading at every step. The failure of others to allow God’s complete leading (Gideon, Samson, Saul, David, Solomon…etc) are to teach us the importance of having the faith of Jesus, who was fully controlled by God and finished His work perfectly through the power of God, not His own power. Like a willing chess piece fully submitted to the control of the Grand Master.
It’s our choice to make.
- Tyler Cluthe:
20 May 2013
Tom you ask a question I think most other people who know their Bible are asking, “why would you say that God did not chose Paul?” You then present four texts to show that he was chosen. The question really is did Paul have freedom and if he didn’t, do we?
There certainly are places in the Bible where it seems to say that freedom is limited. The problem with Balaam is one of them but even that story has some twists and turns in it. In Num 22:12 God gives the prophet a direct command, “You shall not go with them; you shall not curse the people, for they are blessed” (NKJV) but that is not what happened. Balaam complied with the command up to a point but his heart was really with God for he said, “Now therefore, please, you also stay here tonight, that I may know what more the LORD will say to me (Num. 22:19 NKJV) as though he didn’t already know what he was supposed to do. Then God backtracked, “If the men come to call you, rise and go with them; but only the word which I speak to you– that you shall do” (Num. 22:20 NKJV). Then the story goes on, “So Balaam rose in the morning, saddled his donkey, and went with the princes of Moab. Then God’s anger was aroused because he went, and the Angel of the LORD took His stand in the way as an adversary against him. And he was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him” (Num. 22:21-22 NKJV). This story is interesting because God seems to capitulate to Balaam’s desire for wealth to a point and actually allows him to go but not without restrictions. A similar situation happened to Paul when he wanted to go into Asia and was stopped by the Holy Spirit. Yet God directed him to go to Macedonia instead (Acts 16:6-10). So, certainly there are times when God will say no but is that the general rule? The question really comes down to whether we are forced into a mold like communist governments do to their people where there is no freedom? Is that the kind of government God runs where we are nothing but robots, slaves forced to do what someone else wants us to do?
The statement I made concerning Paul was, “Even Paul chose to be a church leader – God didn’t choose that for him” which concerns his education and status before the Damascus road experience. Paul was educated in theology according to the church of his day (Judaism) and according to his own testimony, “I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers” (Gal. 1:14 NKJV). Was God forcing him to do that or was it his desire? Was it theologically correct especially when considering Paul’s later arguments against legalism? Would God then have forced him into error?
If you have an education beyond the mandatory level in most countries did you choose what set of classes you took? Did God force you to go this way or that or into the career you are in? If you wanted to be a scientist witnessing for God through that discipline would God tell you that you couldn’t, that you have to be a toilet cleaner instead? Would that be freedom? Is God’s government a cast society where everyone is stuck in a rut which they hate and forced to stay there? What would Heaven be like if all that were so?
The base question, therefore, concerns whether God is involved in predestination that excludes the freedom of choice. So, here are some articles dealing with the ideas of predestination. Even though they are specifically addressing the issue of salvation it also concerns freedom in general.
Above all remember, “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Co. 3:17 NKJV).
- Goran Bosanac:
20 May 2013
We must not forget our present situation: we are lost sheep and the Shepard is leading us to save us, or we are drowning and Jesus rescue us by grabbing our hair or take us for our chest from our back and by force take us in to the boat.
Tyler is right about Kingdom, but I think we are now in state of lost sheep and in the end it will be a full freedom. I dont see it now. Maybe that is just me…
- Robert Whiteman:
20 May 2013
Tyler…you must read the story of Balaam more closely. It’s very clear what God approved of and Balaam did go according to his own choice, and God made clear again His will. God never back-tracked, but never forced Balaam into any action against his will, and worked with the prevailing circumstances in favor of His people as He has promised Abraham. In all of this, Balak saw the goodness of God towards those that worship Him. Both Balaam and Balak were exposed in their unbelief, though given ample evidence of God’s mercy.
I’m not sure what you are trying to say about Paul, but clearly God chose him for what he would become once converted. He has His will for each of us and will lead every willing soul to fulfill God’s will in their life. John 3:16 settles this question unequivocally. But even when chosen, we can have times where faith is weak and will fail to fulfill God’s will perfectly, but He will accept our repentance and make the most of our circumstances if we allow Him to.
- Mymy Cher:
22 May 2013
I read this and I gain hope. I graduated college 3 years ago. I never have a real job, I got lay off twice, and work merely 8 hours a week, to pay for all expenses. I live off donations. I cry bitterly at times to see how difficult it has been. Funny thing is, some friends, even family member accuse me of not praying. sometimes my prayers are just tears, sometimes screams, other times this unbearable pressure on my chest. All the people I knew moved on to good jobs, masters, marriage, and life is passing me by. I practically desperately plead in prayers for an answer, still it’s the same. I don’t where my life is heading, what to do, and what God wants, in my my human’s eyes things only seem to go from bad to worse. It gets hard for me to pray because the hurt deepens and GOD seems so far, and I feel like a guilt or a sin, or something God wants to accomplish in me before all else, but the hurt in my life and loss of direction is nothing I have ever imagine my life would be nor feel.
- Shaz Giose:
04 Nov 2017
I can so relate to this brother’s testimony. God directed me to this page to encourage me and for me to look back on my life and say He was there all the time, He has a plan for me and His timing is perfect! I have learnt to know that I do not need to know or even understand God’s plan for me as His plan for me is good anyway.
- Christopher Kono:
07 Feb 2018
Really helpful it’s indeed true God works in mysterious ways. My experience in life is somewhat similar to yours, God has a plan in all our lives , we just have to seek him,like it says in the Bible, seek ye first the kingdom of God and all this things will be added unto you,
even though we may stray far from God at times, regardless of all our evil ways and sinful nature God in his infinite love and mercy still guides us back without us realizing to our true purpose in life. It’s really hard to understand how unconditional God’s love is, he walks with us daily even though we neglect him daily, he loves sinners but he hates sin, his love is so great, for while we where yet sinners he came and died for us . I love our God .
Our God is truly great, all knowing and all loving, all powerful .
- Larry West:
07 Feb 2018
I have been there too. It is really hard to be down, discouraged and feeling like God is far away. He is not far away. He is close to you. The Holy Spirit is working on you in ways that you can’t see sometimes. When you are feeling like you are now, it is not because you are not praying. You are praying. Romans 8 says that the Holy Spirit takes your feeling that are not expressed in words and presents them to God. Hang in there. You are doing a good job!
Source: Daily Sabbath School Lessons