His Desire and Plan for Our Life Journey

June 19, 2024

By Mara Hodler

Throughout the Bible, there are verses that use the analogy of traveling along a path in life. For example: “The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide” (Psalm 37:31), “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105), and “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:6).

My personal takeaway from these verses is that we are each on a journey, and we don’t really know where our journey will take us or what path to take. But God knows, and we can avail ourselves of the principles in God’s Word as a guide, commit our ways to God, and ask Him to lead us. The other option is that we can try to figure it out on our own.

We all need to make decisions and navigate this thing called “life.” Just the fact that we are alive requires us to participate in all the choices that involve us. Depending on our nature, though, we might love figuring it all out or it might terrify us. Or perhaps a bit of both.

Personally, I don’t like making decisions. I have twice in my adult life been overwhelmed in a food court because there were just too many choices of what to eat for lunch. How sad is that?! If my husband would let me, I would eat the same thing every day simply to avoid having to decide what to eat. And this says nothing for the bigger choices in life, like where should we live? What career do I pursue? How should I spend my money? How is God calling me to use the talents and gifts He has given me? And many other things.

At the end of the day, my life will be a collection of my choices and the resultant consequences, good and bad. For me, this realization highlights two things: (1) I really need God’s help to make wise decisions, and (2) I also need a plan.

The beauty in all of this is that God has promised to be an active participant in my life if I will allow Him to. He says that if I acknowledge Him, He will direct my path. If His Word is in my heart, none of my steps will slide. If I hold up His Word, it will be a light to my path and show me the way to go. God’s got His part squared away, so what about mine? Or yours? We know there isn’t an actual “path” we are walking along or a real “lamp” that we can hold up, so how do we get this whole “God’s help” thing to work?

A good place to start is to know and understand God’s Word and the standard He has given us to live by. God’s Word is a lot like reflectors on a dark road. As you’re driving along, the reflectors show you the divide in the road so that you don’t veer into oncoming traffic, and they show you the edge of the road so that you don’t drop off into a ravine. Knowing God’s Word gives you a set of boundaries and provides guidance to help keep you on course.

Sometimes it’s really simple. I know God’s Word tells me to be loving and kind, and so asking myself a question along the lines of “What is the loving thing to do?” can reveal the obvious choice. But sometimes it’s more complicated, in particular when all options fall within the broad spectrum of God’s will, or when I have a strong personal feeling about a situation which affects my decision-making process. In such times it can be difficult to come to a decision that we can be at peace with or not second-guess ourselves. But God said He would direct our paths if we acknowledge Him, and He will work all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). So we can expect His help and guidance when we ask for it.

Then there’s the part of having a plan. Have you heard the saying “the man whose destination is ‘nowhere’ is sure to get where he’s going”? Psalm 37:3–4 says, “Trust in the LORD, and do good. … Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” This verse has a lot to do with making your life plan. It tells you that as you trust in the Lord and pattern your life according to His Word, and delight yourself in Him first and foremost, He will place in your heart His desires for you.

In other words, determine that you want your life to please God and place Him at the center of everything, and then once He puts a desire or calling in your heart, take it as His plan for you and go for it! Pursue the plan. For example, if you would like to join a volunteer mission trip to somewhere, but don’t have the money (or are short of funds), and you are sure that God also has an interest in you doing so, take it to the next step and plan for how you will get that money. For example, the next step might be asking your family, friends, or church if they would be interested in giving toward such a venture.

God really wants us to find His plan and purpose for our lives and to pursue it. He knows that in order for us to grow in our lives and to build our character, we have to learn and experience many things along the way. Just because something is God’s plan for our lives doesn’t mean that it will materialize instantaneously, or without struggle or challenge or growing pains or sacrifice. If your path is anything like mine, it’s not a straight shot. Having a general plan, goal, or destination helps me to move along the path; it helps me as I make daily choices.

When I come to a fork in the road, understanding God’s plan for me helps me know which path to take. I also have to be prepared for when God may open up a new path for me that will take me down new roads in my life journey. When other paths seem easier, or for some other reason entice me, I have to remind myself that His destination and plan for me is the desire of my heart.

God has a unique plan for each of our lives. Since God created us in His image with free will to make decisions, we get to be active participants in determining and pursuing that plan. If you already know where you’re going, stay close to God’s Word and let it guide you along the path. If you aren’t sure where you’re going, focus on living as God’s Word teaches us to, and God will guide you step by step to His plan for your life.

Adapted from a Just1Thing podcast, a Christian character-building resource for young people.

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