"I don't know what God wants me to do."
That's something I hear quite a bit. We'd love God to give us clear direction about the big and small decisions we face everyday. Trouble is, that's not exactly what most of us experience. In fact, if we're honest, many of us struggle to discern the will of God in our daily lives.
Dr. Emerson Eggerichs—of Love and Respect fame—has a relatively new book that's just has life changing as his marital classic. It's called The Four Wills of God and it deals with this exact issue: "the way He directs our steps and frees us to direct our own."
Read the book, but in case you never get to it, his basic point is this: if you follow the "universal" will of God, you'll be more likely to hear His "unique" will for you personally. What is this universal will of God? Eggerichs uses the acronym BAGS to help us remember:
1. Believe. "For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:40). If we believe in Jesus, and trust Him for our life and salvation, we are doing the will of God.
2. Abstain/Avoid. "It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable..." (1 Thessalonians 4:3). Abstaining from the things that harm our bodies goes a long way in doing God's will in our lives. We don't have to look very far to see how the exact opposite wrecks havoc on families, relationships, and careers.
3. Give. "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Gratitude is a huge part of God's will for each of us: it changes who we are and how we see the world.
4. Submit. "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men...for it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men" (1 Peter 2:13-15). Submission is another one of God's big deals; learning to submit to authorities doesn't come easy but grows us in Christlikeness and keeps us right in the middle of God's universal will.
Following God's universal will in these ways ensures we'll be open to hear His unique will for each of us. If I'm staying in His universal will, making a mistake about His unique will for me shouldn't totally derail my walk with Him. This framework helps us to not over spiritualize decisions that don't need to be so fraught with worry.