How does one determine God’s will for one’s life? Many are looking for subtle signs. Consider: (1) I once heard of someone who was trying to decide which church to attend. One day, while driving through town, the person noticed a rainbow in the sky. Then, he noticed a church building was in sight as he looked at the rainbow. He determined from this that it was God’s will for him to attend that church. It was a church that was teaching and practicing things which were odds with the scripture. When an attempt was made to reason with this one from scripture, the reply came “but, I saw the rainbow.” Was this a sign from God? Or a drawing of unwarranted conclusions? (2) I once knew of someone who had been so busy with her hobby that she seldom had time for regular attendance and involvement in the local church. She promised that she would slow down and make time for involvement in the local church, and its work. She did for a short period of time. However, an opportunity came along in her hobby. This was taken as a sign that it was God’s will to once again get more involved in this hobby. The hobby took more and more time. Little, if any, time was left for the local church. In truth, if all members behaved as she, then there would be no local church. Was it a sign from above? Or a temptation from below? Or wishful thinking?
God’s will is not so subtle. He has revealed His will to us. Micah said, “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8). Solomon said, “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Paul taught, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification…” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4 cf. 5:11-22). He stated, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). He has revealed His will to us in the scriptures. It is our responsibility to learn His will and do it (Ezra 7:10; Matthew 7:24-27; James 1:22)
No, I am not denying that God providentially operates in this world. He can open doors, and He can close doors.
However, His basic will for us is revealed in His word. One should not set aside the plain teaching of God’s word to follow subtle signs which he infers from nature.