For most of us, it takes some time, some failures, and some persuasion to get to a point where we’re ready to stop trying to do things our way and follow God’s will. Once we get to that point, it’s natural to look back and wish that we had done things differently from the start. It’s natural even to wonder how life might have turned out had we been less stubborn. And we might even wonder: If I’ve been neglecting to follow God’s plan for this long, is it even possible for me to get back on track? How could I even start to make up for that lost time? Have I missed out on God’s will for my life?
Rather than bury the lead, I’m going to start off this article with the answer to the central question. And I want to be very clear on this: You have not missed out on God’s will for your life. God is not done with you. No matter where you find yourself in life, he has a plan for you, and if you’re committed to following it, you can and will reach that point.
So there you go. The question’s been answered, so the blog post is over, right?
If only it were that easy. Because as simple as it is to answer the question, it’s not so simple to actually believe it when you’re the one asking. Committing to following God’s will is a wonderful experience that should be celebrated, but it can be followed up by a good deal of guilt for not doing so sooner. Regret is something that’s difficult to overcome. And that’s why in this article, I’m going to try to spell out exactly why I believe you haven’t missed out on God’s will for your life, no matter how long it might have taken you to get onboard.
We have to start by understanding how God relates to us. Far too often, we think of God as a divine playwright. Back before time began, we think, he came up with a precise idea for how our lives are supposed to play out, and it’s our job to find the script and follow it to the letter. If we at any point stray from the script (which we all do), then we’re messing up God’s plan for our lives and making it harder and harder to get back on script. After a certain point, we’re so far from God’s design for our lives that there’s no way we’ll ever be able to get back, so there’s really no use in trying.
Does any of this sound familiar? Maybe none of us would explicitly say that we believe this sort of thing, but below the surface, this is the general sense we get from contemporary American Christianity. We have this rigid view of God and his relationship with us that basically leaves us on the brink of despair when we realize how far off course we all are. It’s enough to make one want to give up on the whole endeavor.
But the truth is that this isn’t sound theology. It doesn’t reflect the way God has related to his people throughout history, and it isn’t the way he relates to us, either. It’s a lie that holds us back from the amazing life that God has for us, and when we buy into it, we’re allowing ourselves to continue to miss out. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Because God isn’t a divine playwright waiting for us to get back on cue. He’s our partner in this journey of life, and he’s right beside us at every step, ready to show us where he wants us to go. We don’t serve a rigid, static, unsympathetic God; we serve a living, dynamic, loving God who wants nothing more than to do this life with us. That’s what the Holy Spirit does; he dwells inside of every follower of Christ, guiding them towards his perfect plan for them.
Relationality implies flexibility. We all know that when we work with other people, things don’t always go exactly the way we plan, and God knows that, too. But this sort of thing doesn’t throw God off the way it does us. When our plans go off track, we get frustrated and want to give up. God, on the other hand, is patient with us, and he’s prepared at every moment to draw us back. He sees possibilities that we could never imagine. In his infinite wisdom, he is able to bring about his purposes through us despite our imperfections.
In this way, God’s will for our lives really isn’t that different from his will for the world and history itself. We recognize that many of the things taking place in our world right now are not a part of God’s will, but we also know that in the long run, God is bending history itself back towards him and his perfect plan for the world. We can’t always see it in the day-to-day, but in the long run, God’s will is going to win out.
The same can be true in our own lives. Sure, we may look back on our stories and see a lot of things that weren’t a part of God’s plan, but that doesn’t have to be the final word. Because no matter how far you may think you’ve strayed, you are one decision away from moving back in the right direction. If you allow him, God can and will bend your story back towards his story. And there’s nothing better than being a part of God’s story.
I believe that God’s will is less like a script and more like a path. Life with God takes a lot of twists and turns, and there are times when you’ll come to a crossroads that shakes you to your core. But throughout the journey, you have the world’s best partner and guide, and if you’re listening to him, he’ll never lead you astray.
And by the way, the journey isn’t just about the destination. Like we’ve talked about before, God’s will is so much more than just the big decisions in life. It’s the everyday stuff, too. There is so much meaning, growth, and fulfillment to be found in the small steps along the journey to God’s ultimate, big-picture plan for your life, so never downplay the value of making one tiny decision that God calls you to make. You never know how what kind of impact it might have on your journey long-term.
Does all of this mean that looking back, you won’t find places where you could have done things differently? Of course not. Would your life have gone differently if you had made different decisions? Of course. And it’s perfectly natural to look back and wonder. But when we follow God’s will, we can look back on our lives and know that no matter what path we followed and where we ended up, we did it all with him by our side, and he led us exactly where he wanted us to go.
It doesn’t matter what situation you find yourself in. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, how long you’ve resisted God’s will, or how long you think you have left to follow him. No matter who you are, God has a plan for you. That plan involves serving him, loving others, and finding fulfillment in his name. And if you truly commit to partnering with him and following his plan for you, you can follow his will and find that fulfillment.
If you’re tired of wondering whether or not you made the right decisions, if you’re tired of wishing you’d done things differently, if you’re tired of fearing that you’ve missed out on God’s will, I hope this is an encouragement to you. You don’t have to wonder anymore. God has a plan for your life, and you haven’t missed out on it. He’s ready and willing to partner with you on your life’s journey. All you have to do is stop wondering and start listening. Won’t you follow him?
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