When people desire to discover God’s will for their life, they often assume God has designed a personal plan for them. Is this what we find within scripture?
To be sure, scripture is replete with passages outlining God’s will. Passages such as Acts 2:23 and 1 Thessalonians 4:3 reveal God’s intention to provide salvation as well as to determine the general character that should shape a Christian’s life.
However, where is the teaching that God has prepared a personalized plan for every Christian? Should we be concerned over whether God intends us to marry Christian A or B? Or do we have freedom and bear the responsibility for making wise decisions within the general guiding parameters of what God desires for his people?
For those assuming that an individualized divine plan exists, undoubtedly a slew of verses will be launched against my questioning.
Did not God direct the apostle Paul to Macedonia and prevent him from entering Bithynia? Do not verses such as Proverbs 3:6 and Ephesians 2:10 prove that God has a personalized plan for each one of our lives?
Upon closer examination, I would suggest that to conclude such verses demand God has an individualized plan for our lives exceeds the evidence. In fact, an alternative understanding appears stronger. Consider these few representative observations:
While it is true that God directed certain prophets, apostles and key individuals like Cornelius to make specific choices at critical junctures, the Bible is silent regarding God imposing such detailed plans upon the rest of his people.
In scripture, when God did have a speciﬁc path for key individuals to follow, God’s will was revealed by prophecy, dreams, visions, angels or measures like the Urim and Thummin. It was clear and specific. God’s will was not revealed through coincidences, feelings and the type of “evidence” people typically rely upon today.
The language of Proverbs 3:6 ﬁts into the larger contextual theme in Proverbs of walking in wise godly counsel. Whether we should live in city A instead of B is not within view.
Furthermore, to insist the “good works” of Ephesians must refer to speciﬁc details such as evangelize this person, rather than to the general principle of being evangelistic is doubtful. Reﬂect upon the apparent parallel idea that students are a university’s workmanship, created for employment that the university intended beforehand for them to achieve.
Admittedly, this examination is brief. Nevertheless, I have not found either through biblical example nor through teaching that God has created a personalized plan for every believer.
If God does not have a personal plan for my life, what would this mean? To be blunt, I can no longer blame unfavorable life situations upon my difﬁculty in discovering God’s individual will for my life. I am free to use wisdom in making godly decisions. And if I want to live within God’s will, I need to listen to and then obey God’s message.
God’s will for us is not mysterious. We need to open the Bible and read.