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  • Carey Marshall

A Journey of Small Steps


If there is one thing I tend to hear folks talk a lot about, it’s that they are seeking to discover God’s will for their lives. It can be such a thing of mystery. It can be quite confusing. It can be overwhelming.


Sometimes we feel we cannot do anything until a fully-fledged plan is miraculously revealed. For many of us, we struggle through life and wonder, “Hmmmm…I wonder if THIS is God’s will for me…or maybe it’s THIS…surely THIS must be it!” Only to find that a door suddenly closes in our face, or we start doing what we thought so certainly was God’s will, only to find out we don’t really even enjoy doing it.


I mean, when we find God’s will for our lives, shouldn’t a cloud in the heavens open up while the voice of God booms out, “You found it child…keep going that direction!”?


And, shouldn’t finding and doing God’s will be FUN?!!


If you know me, you know that I love the Enneagram. I am an Enneagram 7 with an 8 wing. For those of you who follow the Enneagram, you will likely not be surprised by that! In layman’s terms, this simply means that if it’s not FUN FUN FUN, I am generally not interested in doing it. I dread doing the mundane things in life, probably a little more than other Enneagram numbers. I pour myself wholeheartedly in the things I am excited about, until I am not. I tend to neglect the un-fun things in pursuit of the object of my current obsession (right now, that’s crocheting hats). Then, I am on to the next big shiny thing and proceed to pour myself wholeheartedly all over again. Rinse and repeat.


I have always had this notion that finding God’s will for my life would be this big, grand, super fun thing! Perhaps I’d become a famous speaker on the Christian circuit, maybe sing to stadiums filled with people while the smoke machines and lasers fill the arena, possibly write a New York Times bestselling book and use my incognito Christian status to woo the masses for Jesus. Hmmmmmm. Likely not. In fact, I don’t really even have a desire in my heart for those things or what they would end up bringing alongside them. It all sounds exhausting, honestly. What I have found over the years is that God’s will for my life is revealed in small increments. It is never a big explosion!


While I am no expert, I thought it might be helpful to share with you what I have discovered about finding God’s will in my own life, in the hopes that it will help you navigate finding His will for yours.


Here are some things I have learned along the way:


God’s will generally isn’t one GRAND thing, but rather a series of small acts of providence throughout our lives.


Throughout my relationship with Christ, I have witnessed so many “coincidences” that could be explained in no other way but God’s providence in my life. You’ve probably experienced a handful of these yourself (some call them “God Winks,” and I would call them that, but then you’d know how old I actually am).


One by one, over the years, God has singlehandedly orchestrated circumstances in such a way that placed me at the right place at the right time. Sometimes it was to have a conversation with a stranger that sparked a major life change. Sometimes it has been an opportunity that dropped into my life after lots of prayer. Other times it has been a hardship that ended up drawing me closer to Him, and sharpening my character. Sometimes it has been a flaw in my own character that has granted me a brand new version of compassion so that I can effectively minister to someone I encounter.


Sure, over the years, there have been some really awesome milestones in my life. But, always, after that one is reached, God has me ready to pursue the next one He has set forth for me.


If we are continually waiting for that “one big thing” God has for us, I think we can accidentally bypass the small things He has orchestrated that are all part of the larger picture. His “will” for us isn’t one single act of grandeur, but rather a path over our lifespan. Some of it will be noteworthy, while other parts are as simple as a meaningful conversation with a stranger on a bus.


Don’t let the notion of waiting for that one big plan to reveal itself keep you from seeing what God has in store for you now.


God is usually kind to us, and naturally equips us with the talent and ability to do what His will is for us.


One of the ways that I have learned to be in line with what God has in store for my life is to follow where he has naturally gifted me, and take that as a sign.


Take a minute to identify where your natural talents lie. Are you a good listener? Do you love to cook for people? Are you a whiz with numbers? All of those things can be used for God, whether that is in your career or in serving the body of Christ.


I personally don’t think God would gift you with a set of talents for no good reason! You are beautifully and wonderfully made, and He created you with a purpose. Your natural abilities are a gift from God to allow you to live out His will for your life.


God places the longing in our hearts for the things He has planned for us.


You may not know this about me, but I didn’t even know that I could sing until I was in my 30’s. I came to Christ in my 20’s and spent almost ten years going to church, watching the worship team and experiencing the most painful longing in my heart to be up there with the singers for the Lord. But, I was terrified, and honestly, God had a lot of work to do in me before I could be ready for such an endeavor.


Is there something that you feel such a strong desire for in your heart for that it just will NOT leave you alone? Maybe that’s to serve the poor, or to teach a class, to start a business, etc. I believe that God places the longing in our hearts to match what He has in store for us.


In order to accomplish that calling will not be easy! When I first started to lead worship, I had to endure about five years of terrible stage fright before it became even remotely enjoyable. It was AWFUL! But, eventually, God helped me work through that, and now it is a joy to sing. Don’t expect your path to be without challenges!


When we pray, God will orchestrate the circumstances that will lead us to God’s will.


The single most important thing we can do to find God’s path for us is to pray for Him to reveal it. We also need to also pray for discernment from the Holy Spirit to show us when He is answering our prayers! God will always be faithful to set you on a trajectory which will unveil the plan He has for you if you only ask. It will be in His timing – not ours!


Sometimes the step that gets revealed isn’t the final step, but the first rung of the ladder.


Lastly, I think it’s good to remember that following the will of God is not always shown to us with the final result in mind. Sometimes, it’s merely the first step that we need to take, and the rest will come in time.


We are finite humans, and we cannot see the entirety of God’s plans. While our small step may seem fruitless, we may find that it eventually leads to a much larger picture in time.

The key is in taking the first step, and usually that needs to happen in faith. Perform each step along the way with your whole heart, and it will prepare you for the steps to come. I used to lecture my children to pour their whole selves into everything they do, and I would say, “If you are going to be a gravedigger, you be the best gravedigger you can possibly be! Someone might see you digging graves and give you a bigger opportunity because they see your faithfulness!” It doesn’t matter how insignificant the initial steps may seem, do them as unto the Lord. He is faithful and just, and will give you lots more to do in your life. Some of that will be planting seeds which you may not know the result of while you are on the earth, and others will have a harvest you’ll get to experience here and now. No matter what, stay the course, and know that God is with you every step of the way. He has a purpose and a plan for your life. It’s just waiting for you – now it’s time to take that next step, friend!


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