There is an old story preachers tell about a man trapped on the top of his house during a flood/hurricane/tsunami (insert your own natural disaster). The water is swiftly rising. As this man sits on his roof, fearful of being swept away by the current, he cries out to God, “God please deliver me!”

A few moments later, a farmer friend arrives with his boat. “Hey, friend, want a ride to safety?” he asks.

“No,” replies the man on top of his house. “God is going to deliver me.”

An hour later, the water is up to the gutters. A voluntary rescue person comes by on his yellow raft. “Hey, let’s get you off of there—and on to safety,” he yells.

But the man on top of his house refuses to go. “God is going to deliver me.”

Another hour passes and now the water is halfway up the roof. Roof Man is now on top of his chimney, nervously looking down at certain death and destruction.

Fortunately, a Red Cross volunteer swings by in a canoe and offers to ride Roof Man to safety. But Roof Man refuses. “No, God is going to deliver me.”

A couple of hours pass by and the water sweeps over the top of Roof Man’s house. He is carried away by the current and drowns. When he gets to Heaven, he meets Jesus and says, “I though you were going to deliver me.”

Jesus looks down at Roof Man and says, “I sent a boat, an inflatable raft, and a canoe—but you refused each one.”

We’ve all heard this story and every time we hear it, we laugh, right? But quite often this is the story of our attempts to discern God’s Will.

I can’t tell you how many college students tell me, “I just want to do God’s Will.”

This is good. I wish more young people would surrender themselves to God’s plan for their lives.

But quite often those well-meaning college students or teenagers or even young married folks act as if God’s will is some sort of vague, hazy thing. A vapor that can’t be grasped. It’s almost as if they want God’s Will, but don’t ever think they’ll have a shot at actually finding it.

It really doesn’t have to be this way. Here are two truths that should change the way we think about God’s Will.

  1. It is Satan who wants us to be confused, directionless, and ineffective. 
  2. It is God who has a preordained plan for us, who has given us specific steps, and who wants to see our lives matter.

So, knowing those truths, how do we wrap our arms around that seemingly mysterious thing called “God’s Will”? Here are four concrete ways in which God speaks to us:

1. God speaks through circumstances. Its funny, Christians routinely blast atheists and atheism, but we ourselves often act as if there is no God. We complain about the uncontrollable events in our lives as if we’re just here by chance, left to sort life out on our own.

But life isn’t dog-eat-dog. God is in charge of this world. God is in charge of our little world. And the events that He allows—getting fired from a job, meeting a future mate, getting rebuked by a pastor or Christian leader, the family we were born into, the town in which we live, the skill sets, talents, and gifts we possess—are all part of God’s divine blueprint for our success.

None of this happens by chance. God is not up in Heaven pounding His fist against His head saying, “Whoops, I really messed up with Dan.” No, God didn’t mess up. God didn’t make a mistake. God isn’t ever caught by surprise.

So you can do one of two things. You can continue to live as the world lives. You can stick to the motto, “Life is random, you get out of it what you make of it, I can’t help the way I am.” Or you can embrace your life—your life right now—as God’s will.