5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
Imagine God's will as a dart board. There are three parts: The outside circle, the inside circle, and the bullseye. It can be scary to think about God's will as a dart board, and finding his will like hitting the bullseye. But God's will isn't a competition or blind like pin the tail on the donkey. God's will is much more straight forward.
The Works of God
God's works are part of the things that God does regardless of what we do. For example, God sent Jesus regardless of what we wanted or thought. God is sovereign, and God does certain things apart from us and without any say from us whatsoever. On the dart board of God's will, the works of God would be the dart board as a whole. An example is that it was God's will to send Jesus to earth to die and rise again for the sins of humanity.
The Will of God
This part of the dart board of God's will is the part we all really want to know. This is the specific part. This is found in questions like, "Should we take that new job?" "Should we buy that house?" "Should we have another kid?" This would be like the green part of the dart board. It's not quite the bullseye, but it's close. If you want to hit the bullseye on a dart board, you won't aim for the green part. The same is true for the will of God; we aim for the bullseye of God's will which is found in his ways.
The Ways of God
God's ways are found in the moral laws of God. God's moral laws are our guidelines in life. The 10 Commandments would be an example of God's moral law. Jesus summed up the law by saying to love God and love people. On the dart board of God's will, the ways of God would be the bullseye. The ways of God are the sweet spot. If you hit the bullseye, you're automatically within the green part of the dart board, and you're on the board in general!
We can't control the works of God, nor should we want to in reality. When it comes to the will of God in specific situations, we won't always hear a specific answer from God. When it comes to the ways of God, it falls to our responsibility.
When we are following the WAYS of God, we will always be in the WILL of God. Colossians 3:17 says, "Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus" When we follow Jesus and do whatever we do for him and acknowledge him first, we will always be in the will of God!
Whether or not we get a specific answer to what house to buy, what job to take, or how many kids to have, we can still be in the center of God's will. We can still hit the bullseye of God's will when we ACKNOWLEDGE God first. When we acknowledge God, He will direct our paths.
Much of this was adapted from Dr. Jerry Sittser's book "The Will of God as a Way of Life"