This month on television, I begin a new series called How to Find, Follow, and Fulfill God's Will. I'm also releasing a new book and set of study guides for this teaching that I'm really excited about because this is what changed my life.
I was a fairly typical kid until my senior year of high school. As I neared graduation, I realized I was going to have to make decisions about my future that would determine the rest of my life. One thing I believed very strongly was that God had a plan for my life. I didn't have a clue what that plan was, but I was determined to find out! I started seeking the Lord.
I asked the leaders of my church, but they couldn't offer any clear direction. So, I started reading the Bible as I never had before. It was normal for me to study the Word from nine at night till one or two in the morning throughout my senior year of high school. I didn't get any specific guidance; I just knew my answer had to be in the Bible somewhere, so I was devouring it.
I graduated from high school and began college still with no clear direction. I was a math major because that was my best subject. However, I was still seeking the Lord with all my heart for His perfect will for my life. In the middle of my first year of college, I came across Romans 12:1-2, which says,
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
These verses changed my life. The last part of verse 2 promises that I would prove the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God if I would do as instructed. That's what I wanted. I began a four-month study of what it meant to be a living sacrifice and to renew my mind. The results were more than I could have imagined.
Just four months after I got this promise from the Lord, God showed up. I had a life-altering encounter with the Lord on March 23, 1968, that I've never gotten over and never intend to get over. God did reveal His will to me. It didn't come all at once, but it came. As Romans 12:2 says, you prove the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God. It comes in stages, or steps.
Within sixty days, I was led to make radical decisions that set my life on a course that has brought me to where I am today. Everything God has done in my life over the last forty-five years began with me seeking Him to know His will for my life. This is the starting line.
You will not fulfill God's will for your life accidentally. It doesn't come to pass through fate or the "sovereignty of God." You have to have a revelation of God's will and pursue it in order to fulfill it. It takes effort to accomplish God's will for your life. And until you know God's plan for you, it's impossible to achieve it.
After I minister on this at my meetings, I often give an invitation for people who aren't sure what God's will for their lives is. It's not unusual for 80 percent of the people to respond and admit they don't know. I find this amazing. I couldn't live if I didn't know for certain that I was doing what the Lord called me to do. Like Moses, I think if the Lord isn't directing my steps, I'm not moving (Ex. 33:15).
I urge you to make sure you are doing what the Lord created you to do. It's not enough to hope so or assume it will all work out. Ephesians 5:17 says, "Be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is." You're commanded to know His will.
The good news is that the Lord wants you to know His will for your life more than you want to know it. It's not hard to know. But it does take effort. You aren't going to discover God's will until you search with all your heart (Jer. 29:13). As long as you can live without knowing God's will, you will. But when you want to know and follow and fulfill God's will more than anything else, then you will.
Knowing God's will is a starting place, but that's not the end. Moses knew God's will for his life, but he tried to accomplish it in his own strength and own timing. It cost him forty unnecessary years in the wilderness and the children of Israel thirty years' extra bondage in Egypt. This same mistake is being made today.
Some people have some revelation of what the Lord wants them to do, but very few are depending on God to accomplish it. They get a word from God and make a paragraph out of it. They lean unto their own understanding (Prov. 3:5) and often make a royal mess of things. Like Frank Sinatra, they do it their way. That's a recipe for disaster. And you don't have to look very far to see the disasters of people who have tried to do the right thing the wrong way.
We need to know not only God's will but also His plan for accomplishing His will. That takes time, effort, and maturity. Preparation time is never wasted time. Proper preparation will actually save you time in the long run.
Then we must add patience to our faith in order to fulfill God's will (James 1:4). Anyone can start a race, but not everyone crosses the finish line. Certainly, not everyone wins the race. It takes a combination of many things in order to finish well.
I used to run sprints on the track team in high school. Then they moved me to a cross country race. That was a 1.75 mile race when I had been used to running 400 yards. In my first race, I took off like a rabbit. I was ahead of everyone and couldn't understand why the others were holding back. But about the half-mile mark, I was pretty much done. Everyone passed me and I came in dead last. It took everything I had to even cross the finish line. I learned it's easy to start, but it takes a lot more to finish well.
Likewise, many people start their race in life well but don't have the stamina to finish. Everywhere I go, I talk to people who have basically left the race or are just walking now - plodding along with no hope of winning.
I've heard that 80 percent of all people who enter the ministry quit within five years. And of the 20 percent who stay, 80 percent are nearing burnout. That means only 4 percent of ministers last more than five years and are still thriving, instead of just surviving. That's a terrible statistic, but I can believe it's true. I've seen countless ministers come and go and others struggle just to keep their noses above water.
This is not how it has to be. The Lord not only calls us but also equips us to do His will. There is a way to finish our course with joy (Acts 20:24). But it's not going to happen automatically. We live in a fallen world. Things go from good to bad, order to disorder. Left alone, nothing gets better on its own. It takes constant attention to keep a house up, a car running, our yards groomed, and our lives on track. There is a biblical way to finish strong.
I consider the joy and peace I have in the Lord to be two of my greatest assets. I'm not struggling to accomplish God's will. In fact, although we are reaching farther with the Gospel than ever before and have more demands on our time and resources than ever before, I'm doing it with less effort than ever before. I believe that's the way it's supposed to be. We should build up momentum as we go through life. It shouldn't take the same or greater effort the longer we live.
There is a right and wrong way to run our race, and I feel that most of the hurt and pain we suffer is self-inflicted. Of course, we have an Enemy who is seeking to destroy our lives. But we have a Friend who is with us every step of the way and giving us supernatural strength. As Paul said, "The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:20).
Our race should be supernatural, not just natural. It's Christ living in us (Col. 1:27). We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Phil. 4:13). There is a way to finish strong (2 Tim. 4:7).
It would be a shame to come to the end of our lives and not have a sense of knowing we accomplished what the Lord created us to do, yet this happens every day. People are rushing toward eternity while letting this precious time we have here on earth slip through their fingers. This isn't a dress rehearsal. This is the real deal. We have to make our lives count.
I pray the Lord reveals His will to you and how to accomplish it in a greater way than He ever has before. Together, as each of us does what He instructs us to do, we will make a big difference in this world.