It is cliché to say that from the moment we accept Christ, God doesn’t instantaneously show us His specific will for our individual lives. He leads us to that revelation little by little.
In Acts, Luke explains how the misguided, murdering Saul accepts Jesus’s testimony and sacrifice, and then transforms into the Apostle Paul. Ananias explains to Saul that faith and clarity of will is not instantaneous when he says, “The God of our forefathers has destined and appointed you to come progressively to know His will” (Acts 22:14).
Just like Saul, we too have come to know God’s over-arching will for humanity (“not willing that any should parish but that all should come to repentance” 2 Pet 3:9) over time. The Holy Spirit reveals God’s grace to us over time. None of us accepted Christ the first time we heard. It took time and some convincing.
God’s specific will for Saul/Paul to become the Apostle to the Gentiles wasn’t revealed until after he has had been educated in the Christian faith. Likewise, we come to know God’s personal will for us progressively, over time. As a child doesn’t grow into adulthood in a day, so our spiritual growth has to be progressive. We come to know His will more clearly and more accurately as we follow and trust Him.
How is “following and trusting” done? Well, we need to do what Saul/Paul did – learn.
This may also sound cliché and pedantic; however, there just isn’t any other way to follow and trust God but to read our Bibles and spend time in prayer. There just isn’t any other way. There isn’t a short cut.
God speaks to us individually as we read His word. What jumps off the page at me is going to be different than what jumps out at you. Why? Because my life is different than yours. What I need from God (breaking bad habits that cause huge life problems) may be different than what you need from God (comfort and reassurance).
Each time we read Scripture and choose to believe it and act on it, we become more and more persuaded that what God says is true. This process of becoming persuaded is also known as building faith. As God progressively builds our faith in Him, the more we want God to persuade us that we can trust Him. It is a never ending cycle of persuasion and belief (a.k.a following and trusting); however, it can’t happen if we do not sit down and read the Bible and pray.
I can only know what God specifically wants from me and for me if I spend time with Him. The only way to spend time with God is through reading, praying, and fasting. You cannot know what a person wants for you or from you unless you talk to him or her. The same is true with God.
He will not tell me, nor will I learn, His will all at once. I must be patient and trust Him where I am right now. There are things that He wants to teach me before He shows me how He wants me to minister specifically.
Throw your whole being into building a relationship with God. Invite Him into your everyday, or begin to see how He is already in your everyday. Begin to talk to Him all day long about everything, and you will begin to notice that He talks back. When He begins to talk back, do what He says. From there it will become easier to see what is His personal will for you.
Like I tell my daughter, “Run after Jesus with everything you have, and one day He’ll say, ‘Hey, look over there. I want you to do something for me.’ And then do what he tells you to do.”
Learning the specific, individualized will of God centers around the cycle of persuading and believing, so sit back, take some time, and get to know Him.