I recently read Jeremy Treat’s book God’s Will for my Life: A Theology of Decision Making. It is very short, very practical, and, I think, a helpful guide to helping you make decisions in God’s will. Here is an excerpt. He is referring to a graphic in the book which shows concentric circles representing the different areas of our lives. The center-most circle is shaded, and it says, “God’s will.” Treat explains:
In the outer area, we have sinful choices: decisions that don’t honor God or people, that disregard the commands of Scripture, and that are detrimental to ourselves and others. We know such actions are not God’s will. Also in the outer area are choices that are just plain foolish: decisions that don’t proceed from prayer, thought, and counsel. We know what’s foolish by using wisdom, and we know what’s sinful based on Scripture.
In the middle of God’s will: a variety of choices within what God has revealed in Scripture and which aren’t foolish. This middle area is broad, comprising many different life situations. You could be living in Mongolia as a missionary or in Detroit as an engineer, but if you arrived in those places by seeking to glorify God and wisely steward what he’s given you, then you’re in God’s will.
As [another author] puts it, “If we truly seek God above all, then we will always be doing the will of God, no matter where our particular choices lead us, because seeking God’s kingdom first is God’s will.” How freeing! since every decision doesn’t bear the weight of eternally missing the will of God, I can make choices with confidence and peace as long as I’m speaking first the kingdom. As Augustine once said, “Love God and do as you please.” This means that if we’re truly seeking to love God and please Him, then the choices we freely make will be in line with what God wants.
We can make a broad variety of choices and still be within God’s will for our lives. This raises an important question: does God have a specific plan for our lives? Isn’t he sovereign and all-knowing?
Yes, God does have a plan for our lives and, indeed, for all of history (Ephesians 1:11). But as we see in Scripture, there are two aspects to God’s will-his hidden will and his revealed will. God’s “hidden will” refers to the future will that God has for the world and all of us in it. God’s “revealed will” refers to the things God has made clear to us in Scripture, where we are commanded to love God with all our heart, soul and mind and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Luke 10:2).
Scripture does not tell us to try to discover God’s hidden future will, but rather to do his revealed will in the present. God doesn’t expect us to figure out his hidden plan before we make a decision!
We are never told in Scripture to ask God to reveal the future or to show us his comprehensive plan for our lives.
Instead, we’re told to ask for wisdom and to obey God is what he has clearly revealed (Deuteronomy 29:29).
[Jeremy Treat, God’s Will for my Life: A Theology of Decision Making, p.13-14]
More and more, this counsel is probably what we all need to remember. There might be many confusing things in life, but the simple, clear truths and directions of scripture are not confusing–and we know those are true and trustworthy (and eternally binding on us). So stick with that, and you’ll know what to do.