As people are committing to New Year’s resolutions, Christians especially might reflect on aspects of their faith that need improvement. The new year seems to serve as motivation to create a clean slate and improve the unhealthy parts of our lives. Reflecting on the past year, I realized one vital area of my faith that needed change includes how I seek God and His plan for my life. Last year, I developed a habit of treating God like a genie. Whenever I had a pressing concern, I would seek God’s counsel in prayer; however, my approach was wrong. I expected Him to answer my prayers in a time-sensitive manner and hoped things went according to my will, instead of His. In response to some prayers, God confirmed the next plan of action. Yet, some prayers He did not respond to at all. With unanswered questions, I was frustrated with God for not telling me what I wanted to know when I wanted it known.
This year, I am challenging myself to try various ways of patiently discerning God’s direction for my life. I found a guideline for my challenge as I scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed. Greg Darley, Director of College and Millennial Mobilization for International Justice Mission, wrote an article entitled “God Has Already Revealed His Plan For Your Life,” which provided some insight on how Christians might seek God. In Darley’s article, he shared his experience of praying and asking God questions for years with nothing but silence in return. Through his journey, Darley learned how to discern God’s will through His Word, meditation, and prayer. This point was crucial because sometimes I focus so deeply on prayer that I neglect the other tools of discernment that God offers. The Bible is a wonderful resource, since the majority of our problems are addressed in the Word; sometimes the solution to my concerns could be easily found in a parable or psalm. Meditation is another useful tool since it is dedicated time spent with God to listen for His guidance.
Humans have a need to know everything, and this doesn’t change when a person becomes a Christian. Discerning God’s plan for us is complex because we can’t see the future. Nevertheless, discerning God’s will can be simplified if we wholeheartedly trust Him. Trusting God does not mean giving your concerns to Him in prayer and then worrying about the same issues afterwards. Since God knows everything, what’s the point of being stressed anyway? Likewise, it’s difficult to trust God with your future if you aren’t being present in the now. If we can’t understand the current problems we are facing in our faith, how do we expect God to allow us to move on to the next stage of our lives?
So take time to pause in your thoughts about the next chapter of your life in order to allow God to reveal how to finish the current one. This involves developing the ability to squelch our self-doubts and stress about the future with these discernment tools: the Bible, prayer, and meditation. Since the answers are within our reach, we need to open ourselves up in order to find them.