Which Path is God’s Plan for My Life?
Our lives are an endless series of decisions, each decision leading down a different life path. Knowing that, we often stress over our choices.
Which way do I go? Do I date this person or not? Do I attend this college or that one, or do something else? Do I accept this job offer or not? Should I live in this city or that one? Each decision goes down a different path, and we want to take the best one.
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Of course, Christians add a crucial element to decision-questions: what does God want me to do? That doesn’t always make the decision easier – though sometimes it does – but it at least makes us reflect on decisions with a bigger picture in mind, because our faith heritage is filled with people whose decisions led to God using their lives for His plan:
- Ruth chose to stay with Naomi (Ruth 1:15-17), a decision that would eventually bring her into the line of descendants that would produce King David, and eventually Jesus.
- Esther chose to act boldly in approaching the king, realizing this might be her moment (Esther 4:13-14), and God used her to save the Jews.
- Joseph chose to stay faithful to God when Potiphar's wife tempted him (Gen. 39:7-10), a decision that eventually led to him eventually becoming second-in-command over all of Egypt, saving his family from famine in the process.
We want to be like Ruth and Esther and Joseph, and others, whose decisions led them to the place where God could best use their lives. But we sometimes wonder: what if my decision-moment comes, and I make the wrong decision? Or worse yet, what if I’ve already missed it? I don’t want to miss God’s plan for my life!
“God, which decision should I make?”
Let’s think through life-decision questions for a few minutes…
First, Some Ways Our Decision-Stress Might Be Misguided
1) God’s glory or mine? If we reflect on our own hearts, we might find that sometimes our decision stress comes from worldliness rather than godliness. We often confuse our goals with God’s goals. We might be saying “God show me which way to go,” but what we mean is “God please show where I can get the most life success, or money, or recognition.” For some reason, many of us seem to think that God’s plan for us should involve great worldly success, and we feel cheated if it doesn’t.
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2) I just don’t want regrets! Sometimes we simply want God to keep us from having life regrets. We don’t want the feeling of picking a path and then bad things happening. Well, my guess is that all of us will have regrets at some point – we will look back and wonder if a different path might have been better for us (however you define “better”). So we probably need to accept that some wondering regrets will be part of every life. But we should also remember that Satan can attack us down any life path, so there’s never a guarantee that a different path would have been any better than the one we’re on.
3) Only one path for my life? Even when our motives are right in asking God to help us in our decisions, sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that there is only one path through which God can work in our life. If Satan can work on us down any life path, God can certainly work down any life path also! Examples like Esther don’t mean that there’s only one place at one moment when we can really fulfill God’s plan for us. If Paul had chosen a different route on his missionary journeys, God still would’ve used him in those different places. If Esther would not have been chosen queen, she still could’ve been faithful to God somewhere else, and God still would have used her life for good things.
So if there’s not just one path for my life, what is God’s plan for my life?
God’s Plan for My Life
Whatever life path you take, God does have one overarching plan for your life: your salvation through Christ. Don’t let that eternity-shaping goal sound too simple!
Colossians 3:1-4 is one passage that points us toward God’s plan for us:
1 Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.
From that passage, we see a few things about God’s plan for us: (1) God wants us to be raised up with Christ from the spiritual death of sin (a spiritual raising that happens in baptism, as Col. 2:12 says earlier). (2) God wants us to seek spiritual things not earthly things. (3) God wants us to make Christ our life. (4) God wants us to join Christ in glory when He comes back.
That’s God’s plan for our life. Whether we do that with more worldly success or less doesn’t really matter. Whether we do that in Denver or Memphis or New York doesn’t really matter. Whether people honor us or not doesn’t really matter. God wants us to be transformed through Christ and be saved through Him.
So How Should I Make Life Choices?
1) Make Christ your life. Not just sort of your life, but really your life. Commit to living for Him, through the ups and downs, the regrets and the joys. This will make your priorities and choices different, and better. It will lead you to make decisions through the lens of faithfulness first. It will put you in better places and closer to better people and around better activities. Following Christ is the best path not only for eternity, but for the "present life" also (1 Timothy 4:8).
2) Always choose God’s right over wrong. Choosing between right and wrong will also lead down different life paths. If Joseph would’ve chosen a sinful relationship with Potiphar’s wife, he would’ve missed God’s better blessings. If King Saul would’ve just obeyed God, God said He would have established His kingdom forever (1 Sam. 13:13). Let’s not miss out on God’s plan and God’s blessings because we chose sin’s way over God’s way. Never convince yourself that the sinful path looks better for you! If the decision involves right and wrong, we can absolutely know what God’s plan is – so choose what is right.
3) Pray about decisions. Many decisions don’t involve a right and a wrong. Lay those decisions before God in prayer, over and over again. Don’t act without seeking the blessing of the Lord. Remember that God can work down any path, so ask Him to bless whichever way you choose, for His glory and not for your own. Pray that the chosen path will lead to greater faithfulness, for you and for others.
4) Look for open doors down your chosen path, and act on them. Again, God can work down any path, so as you choose, look for open doors down the path you have chosen. Every path has its own unique open doors: people to encourage, opportunities to serve and grow in faith. When you see those open doors, act on them!
Does God want me in Nashville or in Canada or in Arkansas? Does He want me to be a doctor or a teacher or a stay-at-home mom? Does He want me to be single or married, with kids or not? Does He want me to accept this new opportunity or stay where I am?
What God wants is for us to live for Christ…wherever we go. If we will make Christ our life, God will work out a plan in us wherever our life paths take us.
So don’t stress too much about life decisions. Satan will work down any path, but God will be working too. The big thing is to live for Christ. That’s His plan for us.
Choose your path faithfully, prayerfully, and then boldly, and watch God work as you live for Him, whichever direction your life goes.