Posted by Dr. Wade Smith on May 24, 2018
I have had the privilege of working with high school and college students through the years. In these formative years one of the most significant questions asked is “What is God’s will for my life?” For some students this is a liberating journey of faith and self-discovery that offers focus and direction for years to come. For others, it can be a haunting and even paralyzing question surrounded by fear, anxiety and unrealistic expectations.
As the Class of 2018 graduates and begins to transition I suspect that many are asking some form of this question: “What am I going to do with my life?” “What am I going to major in?” “What’s next because college is not for me?”
Sometimes we make the question more difficult and complex than it needs to be. On the one hand, “God’s will” is very personal and individualistic. On the other, “God’s will” encompasses specific principles and pathways revealed to all. As we are faithful to the principles and pathways, we discover that the personal and individualistic aspects of God’s will become clearer.
The Apostle Paul alludes to this in his letter to the Church at Thessalonica. In 1 Thessalonians 4:3 he boldly states, “This is the will of God for you, your sanctification.” He continues in verse 7 by explaining that “God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification.” The word “sanctification” is a beautiful word that describes the process of becoming mature and complete in Christ Jesus. It involves being in right relationship with others (not transgressing or defrauding anyone). It also involves being in right relationship with God and oneself, that is, possessing one’s body in a way that honors God and keeps oneself unstained from immorality.
Paul continues to shed light on God’s will a few verses later in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Here, Paul offers three actions or attitudes that reflect God’s will for us.
First, God’s will for us is to rejoice always. Yes, life is hard and often filled with struggles and sadness. But, God’s will for us is to find cause to celebrate and rejoice in life. High school graduation is a time to rejoice. Celebrate with family and friends. Give gifts! Feast! Take a trip! There are certainly hard decisions to make and difficult days ahead, but graduation is a season and opportunity to rejoice and celebrate.
Second, God’s will for us is to pray without ceasing. Surely this speaks to God’s desire for us to be cognizant of His presence each moment of the day. To pray at all times means to be in touch with God and your faith. In the midst of fear and doubt—pray. In the midst of uncertainty and confusion—pray. In the midst of sickness and death pray. And of course, pray in the good times as well! Graduation is an important time of prayer for graduates and their families.
Finally, God’s will for us is to give thanks in everything. Indeed, there is much to be thankful for. Notice, however, that we are not asked to give thanks “for” everything, but “in” everything. God wants us to be thankful people, even in the midst of the cancers and heartaches of life. Thankfulness speaks to humility and gratitude. Thankfulness warns against pride and entitlement. To give thanks recognizes the generosity and contribution of others and of God in our lives. Graduation is a wonderful time to give thanks.
Of course, these principles are not just for the Class of 2018. God desires that all of us know and live in His will. Each of us progress on the journey of sanctification as we learn to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in everything. This is God’s will for us! This is God’s will for the Class of 2018!
Dr. Wade Smith