Where do we go when we are faced with tough questions about our faith? Who can we turn to when we need to make sense of what God is doing in our lives? How do we go about making decisions for the future? This article is the first in a two-part series in which I outline a systematic approach to finding out what God may be saying to you, based on my experience as a Christian counselor.
Recognize That You Are Dependent on God
We all know what it feels like to be lost and unsure of what to do next. Such experiences can be stressful, depressing and anxiety provoking – as you will know if you find yourself in such a situation at present. Where do you turn when you are searching for direction, or simply questioning what God has next for you?
Actually, this experience of not knowing where to go can often serve to remind us of our need for God. It can help us to put our hearts in the right place, for the first step to finding direction is to humbly accept our position of being totally dependent on God. When we give up control and accept that God knows what He is doing, we may find that a burden has been lifted. We are acknowledging that we no longer need to have all the answers. But trusting God does not necessarily mean doing nothing – although it might mean this. Rather, it provides the basis for the next step, which involves developing a method for discerning what God may be saying to you.
Learn from Those Who have Gone Before You
Fortunately for us, God has been working with people since the beginning of time (as we know it). And some of those individuals have been kind enough to share their experiences and insights with the rest of us. One such person is John Wesley, an eighteenth century British evangelist who is considered one of the founders of the Methodist movement. Wesley clearly understood the Christian’s search for God’s direction in our lives, and one of his deeply held beliefs involved our participation with God in what he called the holy life. (Somers, 2011) Wesley’s approach can be summarized in four points that came to be known as the Wesleyan Quadrilateral. Describing this, Bethany Somers, a part-time chaplain and ordained elder of the Church of the Nazarene, wrote:
Although John Wesley himself never broke down the pursuit of the Christian life into the following four basics, United Methodist scholar, Albert Outler, came up with this simple and profound way of parsing Wesley’s approach to life in Christ. (2011)
The four points of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral are Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Experience. These provide us with good starting points for seeking God’s will in our lives.
Scripture is Key to Seeking God’s Will in Our Lives
This first point should be no surprise, since Scripture is God’s word to us. It therefore makes sense that when we desire to know what God wants from us, we should first of all turn to His word. If you are feeling stuck, or are unsure about your faith, you may need to ask yourself whether you are delving into God’s word on a consistent basis and making it a meaningful part of your life.
A Christian Counselor Can Help You as You Seek God’s Will
In the following article, I will continue by outlining what Wesley had to say about how tradition, reason and experience can help us to discern God’s will for our lives. I will also look at other factors which we should consider, such as the power of prayer. As we seek to know God’s will, it can be also helpful to speak to someone whom we can trust. This may involve speaking to a trusted friend, but it could also mean seeking out a Christian counselor who is skilled at helping people as they live out their Christian faith. When you don’t know where to go next, a Christian counselor can provide practical and Biblically-based support and guidance for your specific need.
Somers, Bethany H., Scripture, Tradition, Reason, & Experience, Holiness Today, November/December 2011.
Images are from freedigitalphotos.net: “I Made A Big Mistake, What Now” by stockimages; “Bible Stock Photo” by Arvind Balaraman
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