F. B. Meyer once told the story of crossing the Irish Channel one starless night. There wasn't the sophisticated technology for navigation that we have today, and he went up on deck to ask the captain how he knew how to get into the harbor on such a dark night. The captain replied, "Do you see those three lights, those three stars? They all must line up together as one. When we see them unite, we have the position of the harbor's mouth." Meyer concluded, "When we want to know God's will, there are three things that must always coincide: the inward impulse, the Word of God, and the trend of the circumstances. God in the heart, impelling you forward; God in His book, corroborating whatever He says in the heart; God in circumstances, indicating His will. Never move until all of these things agree."
How can I know the will of God? Is He interested in what happens to me as an individual? How can I hear His voice? These are questions every thinking Christian will ask at one time or another, and they aren't answered easily. But they can be answered. What's more, there are principles we can follow to know the will of God for our lives.
Over the past three decades of my Christian walk, I've found that when God's will has been revealed in my life, it has been more often a result of simply walking by faith. I've learned that God's will is not an itinerary. It's an attitude. You are not going to wake up every morning with a list from God of all the things you need to do, the places you need to go, and the people you need to visit. Rather, it's beginning every day with an attitude that says, "Lord my life belongs to you. I dedicate it once again to your service."
In some of the most remarkable times when God was leading me, I didn't even realize it until I was in the middle of the situation. God does not play hide and seek with His children. He wants to lead you even more than you want to be led. In fact, God is more concerned about keeping you in His will than you are about being kept in it. If you enjoy a close relationship with Him, a friendship with Him, then you will find that He guides you more often than you may realize. Having said that, let's examine a few principles for knowing the will of God.
First and foremost, God will speak to you through His Word, the Bible. As the Scripture says, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105). God never will lead you contrary to His written Word. It's the litmus test we should apply to every situation. The way that we'll know if something is right or wrong is by knowing what the Bible says about it (see 2 Timothy 3:16).
Second, God will speak to you through circumstances. But you must be careful here. If you build everything on circumstances, you can do the wrong things. Therefore, you must first know that what you are doing is biblical and doesn't violate any principles of Scripture. Then you want to be sure God has confirmed it through circumstances.
Third, God will give you His peace. Colossians 3:15 says, "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful" (NKJV). Another translation says, "Let the peace from Christ rule (act as an umpire continually), deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds" (AMPLIFIED).
There might be something in your life that seems like the will of God, but the door of opportunity doesn't open. Maybe you push it a little bit, but it still doesn't open. Maybe it isn't God's timing. Maybe you need to wait. God is speaking to you through circumstances.
Or, maybe the circumstances seem like they're coming together, but somehow you feel that it just isn't right. That's the peace of God acting as an umpire, saying this not God's plan for you. A situation may look good outwardly, but in your heart of hearts, you know there's something wrong about it. Learn to listen to that. It's the peace of God.
God's Word, God's circumstances, and God's peace: never move until all of these things agree.