The biggest challenge you will ever face in life is working out who you truly are and what you’re going to do about it. If you happen to be a Christian, this is compounded by the fact that you want to work out who God says you are and what God wants you to do about it. The tricky part comes when you realise that who you think you are, and who God knows you to be, are very different things, and that your dreams and hopes may be different to what God has planned for you.
You want to go with what God has for you, no matter how scary it may be, because you know that it will be more amazing than anything you can ever imagine. Unfortunately, this means handing over control to someone else; something we are all awful at doing. The idea that “it’s my life, I’ll live it how I want” has permeated into all areas of society.
“‘I have the right to do anything’ – but I will not be mastered by anything”
Sound familiar? Actually these words were written by the apostle Paul in around 57AD in a letter to the church in Corinth. It’s a pretty old idea really, because it strikes at the heart of our identities. Why would anyone want to relinquish control of something that is rightfully theirs?
Well, for a start, that’s not strictly true.
“You are not your own; you were bought at a price” 1 Corinthians 6:19&20
Each and every one of us has been ransomed by God. He bought us for Himself with the blood of His Son. We are not our own. We have no right to our own lives and bodies, yet we are free to choose whether we follow our own desires or God’s. How painful must it be to see someone you love get rescued from certain death, only to continue to tear themselves apart physically and emotionally? Times that by every person that’s ever lived and you will start to understand just how desperate God is for us to follow His plan for our lives. Yet He never forces it on us. We are free to choose.
If I could give anyone one piece of advice, it would be this. Choose Life. And by that I don’t mean choose a job, a career and a family, but choose God, or more specifically, His will for your life. By choosing God’s way you not only choose life, but you choose to live. I mean really, truly live. To experience a degree of freedom the rest of the world will never know.
So how exactly are you supposed to manoeuver your way around study, and work, and relationships, if you’ve decided to relinquish control?
It’s the same as in any relationship. If you want to know what exciting things God has in store for you, you need to do 2 things. Number one, talk to Him about it, and number two, learn to listen. We hear from God in many different ways, but it basically boils down to 5 things.
- Read the Bible – it’s His Word, it’s all good, and He really does speak into our situations through it.
- Pray – actually ask Him directly, don’t just hope for a bolt of lightning from the sky.
- Share it – get some friends to pray about it with you and for you. They will often get insights that you won’t, and are usually able to see possibilities that you would never have considered.
- Talented? – if you are amazing at something, the likelihood is that God is going to use the talents He’s given you.
- Words & Pictures – sometimes we do hear through prophetic words and visions, you just need to test these, get others to pray into them and check if they’re Biblical.
You need to be doing all of these, not just picking and choosing, if you want to be walking down the right path with God, but even then the only way you can truly know what’s right is to try things. Until you take that step of faith you will never know what is possible. And if something doesn’t work out, then you know it’s not right for you and will usually have learnt something in the process. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you were hearing wrongly; sometimes God uses a failed situation to guide you to where you really need to be. This happens to me all the time. It’s how I ended up here in London, about to complete a PhD that I didn’t apply for.
Right where God wants me to be.
At least for now …
What comes next is up to Him, but I’m pretty excited about it.
(If you want to learn more about hearing from God, there was an excellent talk about it at my church a couple of weeks ago)