Updated: Aug 2, 2019
How do I know that I am following God’s path for me?
I think every one of my clients has asked it in one way or another. Maybe every Christian has asked it. It certainly is a common question.
And, let’s be honest, it’s a good question to ask.
It’s a good question to ask even if our motives are mixed. Sometimes we ask God’s will because we genuinely want to know. Sometimes we ask because we aren’t 100% sure we want to follow His will. And, sometimes we ask God’s will because we really want to try to hedge our bets and mitigate the risk that is inherent in making any choice in life.
Every journey comes with risk. Sometimes we are so scared of making the wrong choice that we want a guarantee that it will all work out. So, we end up seeking God’s will not so much out of a desire to do it His way, but more from a place of being afraid to get it wrong.
But, regardless of our motives—however mixed they may or may not be—I think God genuinely wants to communicate with us. He wants us to seek His will. And, He wants to make His will known!
In most cases, God communicates to us in ways that we are meant to understand.
So, what does it look like to “hear” Him speak to us about our lives? How do we know that we are on the right path, making the right choices?
Generally, the process goes something like this: Inspiration, Affirmation, Confirmation, Formation, Generation, and Opposition.
Let’s take a look at the process in a little more depth:
1. Inspiration—God inspires you with a thought, idea or feeling. You get an insight or urge to do something. Often, we think that these thoughts are our own and don’t realize they come from God. Sometimes we dismiss them outright as being ludicrous or impractical.
Example: One day, seemingly out of the blue, you get the thought that you should move to Denver.
2. Affirmation—As you begin to think about the possibilities of this Inspiration someone or something gives you encouragement to keep considering it as possible. As you step into the idea, you get more reasons to hope that you are on the right path.
Example: You run your crazy idea to start a business by your best friend and surprisingly she tells you to go for it!
3. Confirmation—As you step forward, circumstances come together to help make a way. Life opens up possibilities and opportunities. You knock on the door and it opens a little bit. It’s like when God did the impossible and parted the Red Sea or when He parted the Jordan—after the Israelites stepped in.
Example: You decide to go back to school even though you can’t afford it. You put in an application, and lo and behold, out of nowhere you get a scholarship opportunity that makes it possible to go.
4. Formation—As you continue to walk the path that you are on, it becomes so natural to you that you simply don’t question it anymore. This is simply what you do, birds fly, fish swim, and you do X and no longer question if it is the right thing to do. It is so clearly the will of God. It’s been Inspired, Affirmed and Confirmed so often that it is now ingrained in you and you have been formed by obediently following this path. This has become second nature to you—or more appropriately, this is your renewed nature in action.
Example: You made a decision to volunteer as part of a ministry. Despite your misgivings you felt God lead you into it and you did it. Now you have been doing it for so long that it has become a part of your life—and it gives you life. Every time you go, you just know that this is where you are supposed to be.
5. Generation—Your life with God blesses others. Your journey and the wisdom you got from walking this path now provides Inspiration, Affirmation, Confirmation and Formation for others. You generate new life in others as they seek to journey with God.
Example: You have been following God’s leading in your marriage for years. And, now younger couples are beginning to come around you asking for insight on how to do this life. You get to pass on what you have learned to a younger generation.
However, know that if you are really following God, you will make an impact in this world and you WILL face Opposition.
So, there is a sixth principle to be aware of:
6. Opposition—In this life, you will have trouble. There are forces at work that actively oppose the will of God. As you step into following God’s leading, you will likely encounter some push back. This could come at any point along the journey. You may encounter it as early on as Inspiration. It may come to try to counteract Affirmation. It may create counterfeit experiences to try to tell you that the Confirmation you received isn’t legit. It may come to upend your formation and make you doubt your course. Or it may come to condemn your Generation and tell you that you don’t really have anything of value to offer others.
Example: When I felt God’s call to go to Bible college, I told my mentor who I trusted very much. He dismissed it outright and told me that I was arrogant to even consider college. And, he wanted me to abandon the idea of going to a Christian school. In fact, he said that I had too much baggage to ever consider going into any kind of God-related vocation.
I really valued that man’s opinion. But he was just wrong!
Something else was speaking through him—something negative, something that wanted to keep me playing small.
Opposition often comes from up close. Sometimes it comes from those we love.
But, if we are wise, what often is meant to hurt us can actually confirm that we are indeed on the right path.
No Christian gets through life without encountering Opposition! When it comes try to remember that your battle is not with flesh and blood but with dark forces and spiritual strongholds that stand opposed to the will of God.
Now, just because we run into obstacles or opposition is not, in and of itself, an indication that we are on the right path. But when it comes in combination with the other parts of this process it is a good indication that you are headed in the right direction!
Seldom does something worthwhile come easy. But Jesus promised that the gates of Hell would not withstand the advance of his people.
As we step forward, bringing bits and pieces of Heaven to Earth, we will see trouble. But we will see victories as well! And, even more so, we will see how God can transform our lives as well as the world around us.
I am sure you have your stories about how God has come through for you. Maybe you could share one today. Can you tell someone about a time that God did something amazing in your life?
I’d love to hear a good story. I am sure that you have plenty of them to share.
What are some of the things God has done that told you that you were on the right path?
How do you know when you are stepping into God’s will or following His leading?