I’m not a big fan of New Year’s goals. Every time I’ve tried to set goals for the new year, life happens.
Take for example five years ago when I determined to do everything possible to finish the two manuscripts I was working on and send them to agents and publishers by the end of the year. My ultimate goal was to get one of my manuscripts published. I believed God had placed that on my heart, and it was something I’d put an incredible amount of prayer in. I had a feeling it was going to be my year.
Two months later, my husband’s grandfather passed away. We helped clean-up a farm grandpa lived on for several decades, a daunting task. That spring our area was under serious threat of flooding. We had to move everything we had just packed from the farm, and helped friends and family move belongings to safer ground.
By summer we realized we were safe from the flood, so we moved everything back again. Then that fall my brother had a massive heart attack, and I was left planning a possible funeral. When my brother miraculously recovered, my mother passed away.
Worn-out, confused, and heart-broken, I honestly felt attacked on many levels.
So much for my plans. My insightful, prayerful, and spirit-motivated plans.
Was it that God had said NO? Was it that my plans weren’t God’s will? Could it be that God was telling me not now or to go another direction?
These are questions we as Christians struggle with when our plans get thwarted, sometimes in major ways. There are some things that are black and white: cheating, lying, murder. Other things, things we desire, even when we’ve been prayerful about them, aren’t so clear cut. How do we know what the will of God is?
1 Thessalonians 5:18 “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Micah 6:8 “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Proverbs 16:3 “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.”
I don’t think it’s was a matter of not being in God’s will, but of remaining in His will through those dark days. I had to trust that God was working on my behalf, even when I felt like I was being attacked on all fronts. I wasn’t wrong to question whether my motives overrode God’s purpose in my life. I know Satan can use my desires against me if I let him. I didn’t allow Satan to use those circumstances against me.
In the end I realized that regardless of what I decided to do, whether I finished those books and published them or took another job, what mattered was continuing to do what was good and right in God’s eyes.
Through God’s grace I am self-publishing one of those books I was writing five years ago. The other won a writing contest this past year. It’s a testament to God’s will in my life. It took longer than I imagined it would, but God is faithful to fulfill the promises He has given to us through His word.
So, the secret to knowing God’s will is to know the truth of God’s word. But, you have to trust it and remain faithful in response.
I pray your New Year will be filled with hope and blessings. And if you are having a year like I had five years ago, I pray you will feel God’s presence and love—especially in those darkest moments.
God has plans for each of us, plans that are unique to each of us, roles that each one of us are uniquely crafted to fill. Join us at one of our upcoming conferences to learn how you can live a life of impact and purpose.