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I remember one time a year ago…I was feeding the baby oatmeal.

Morning time is our time together. I bathe her, let momma pick out the clothes (‘cause apparently I am physiologically incapable of picking out a shirt and shorts that are supposed to go together), and take the baby downstairs to make breakfast and feed her. We do this almost every morning. We have a rhythm. Anyway…back to my original thought…

There we were having breakfast like normal. At one point she opened her mouth and  I delivered a good sized bite of oatmeal (relax, I was using a baby spoon). It turns out that she wasn’t opening her mouth in an effort to say, My dearest Father, I am ready for more sustenance.” She was merely prepping for a sneeze…

Y                                                         S

U                                                         P

C                                                         L

K                                                         A

!                                                           T

All of which leads me to this little gem: NOT EVERY OPEN DOOR OR OPPORTUNITY IS A SIGN OF WHAT GOD WANTS YOU TO DO! The converse is also true: Not every closed door is a sign that God wants you to give up.

But that’s often how Christians view circumstantial events. I call it “Door Theology.” If the door is open (Christian language for an opportunity has presented itself) then God must want me to walk through it. If the door closes (Christian language for the opportunity is no longer present) then it must mean that God wants me to go in a different direction. Door Theology is huge in the Evangelical church. Every week I hear people espouse this junk. DON’T BUY IT!

Sometimes you will have an open door in your life that God would NOT want you to walk through. And sometimes a door will close that God STILL wants you to pursue. You cannot estimate God’s will simply on your opportunities (or lack thereof).

Well, then, how do we determine and discern God’s will for our lives? Let me highlight three foundational elements that are helpful in discovering God’s will for your life.

1. The Bible – God’s will for you will NEVER contradict his words in the Bible. You never have to wonder if it is God’s will to leave your wife for another woman. It isn’t. It never will be. You never have to wonder if it is God’s will for you. God will not contradict what he has laid out in Scripture. Want to know what his will for you is? If you stay plugged into the Bible on a regular and consistent basis your picture will become more and more clear. The Psalmist writes:

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

A WORD OF CAUTION – DON’T SETTLE FOR RANDOM ACTS OF WILL. Sometimes we go to the Bible and randomly pick a sentence and believe it to be God’s will for us. When we read the Bible we ought to do so intelligently. Some things are meant to be universal and apply to all times. Other things are specific to a time, people, and place and are not meant to be directives for us. Don’t read,” Judas went out and hanged himself” and think that it is God’s will for you to do the same. Be smart.

2. Your Conscience – The non-Christian world calls it your conscience. Those of us in the Evangelical movement understand and believe that God is present in this world through his Spirit (often called the Holy Spirit). It is the Spirit of God that speaks to us if we will simply ask and listen. What is the Holy Spirit trying to tell you? Have you asked? Have you been listening? The Apostle Peter was often directed by God’s Spirit and several times writes:

And the Spirit told me to go with them…

A WORD OF CAUTION – DON’T TRUST YOUR “GUT” ALONE. Sometimes we may “feel” that God is trying to say something to us when it is merely our own desires, passions, or even bad pizza from last night. You cannot trust your own feelings alone as God’s will. I knew a guy in college who decided after one semester that God was “calling him” to leave the school and go to a different university. Okay, how can you argue with that? Within a year he was back from the other school. I guess God was confused? Or maybe my friend was putting spiritual labels on his own desires…. Be careful.

3. Counsel – There is something to be said for good counsel and good counselors. Ask other people what they think about God’s will for your life. Talk to them about what you’ve read in the Bible and what you think the Spirit of God is saying to you. Bounce it off of other people and find confirmation. Or bounce it off others and end up rejecting the idea. The Proverbs say:

Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.

A WORD OF CAUTION – MAKE SURE YOUR COUNSELORS ARE GODLY PEOPLE. If the people you turn to for advice are dirtbags it’s a pretty good bet that they won’t give godly and stellar advice. Find people who care about discernment and doing right by God. Ask THOSE people. Get their input.

And one last word for people who are going through a real difficult time: When going through junk don’t ask, “Is this God’s will?” God doesn’t ever WANT you to go through garbage. Sometimes we go through garbage as a result of other people’s stupidity and/or sinful and evil behavior. Don’t blame God for other people putting you through hell. Instead ask, “How can I honor God even in this situation?”

It’s less about finding the one single path to walk than it is about being a Christ-follower whichever path you may take!