Don’t accept God’s will so easily.

 

We’re supposed to accept God’s will, right?  I mean, if we’re good Christians and all.  Isn’t it the hallmark of being a “good Christian” that we fairly easily accept the will of God when bad things happen in our lives?

“God provideth.  And God taketh away.”

This is what wise people say when tragedy strikes.

And I think, much of the time, this is good.  But is it possible to take this acceptance of God’s will too far?  I think so.  Just as with anything else.  This one is a bit hard to explain without getting myself into a lot of trouble, but I’ll try.

Ultimately we’re talking about this incredible question of why God allows bad things to happen.  This is tough stuff, and we’re ultimately not answering that large question here.  But only a small part of it.  Why would God allow a woman to be raped when he is ultimately in control?  There are a lot of theories.  And in this post, I’m not talking about large events like this.  Huge events that cause us to question humanity and God itself.  And I’m certainly not suggesting that getting raped is somehow discipline from God.  So let’s not lose focus and dive off into that.  Let’s have a good conversation about something that matters.  But that is not quite at that level.

I’m talking about small issues.  The loss of a job.  Foreclosure.  Car accident without major loss.  Break-ups.  Even possibly divorce.  Should we just simply shrug our shoulders in these cases and say, “Well, I suppose losing this house is God’s will.”

I don’t think so.  I think we should get pissed off.  And angry.  Even if it means being angry at God.  Because there are times when God needs to do crazy things to get our attention.  So if we just toe the line and act like good Christians who never complain about God’s will, we may be missing out on the very lesson that God is pushing us to accept.

Question: If God allows a foreclosure to come into your life, are you being tested to see how passive you’ll be in the light of his will?  Or is God intentionally trying to get you so pissed off that you finally root something out of your life that he wants rooted out of your life?  See, I’m not so convinced that God wants us to just be fully passive and just lay down at every tragedy.

Look at David in the Psalms.  A third (I’m guessing here) of the Psalms are about David being pissed off at God about one thing or another.  And letting God know it.  And what about Jacob with getting his hip dislocated.  Jacob didn’t enter into this fight with God, or an angel (depending on the scholars you listen to) and simply say, “God is fighting with me so he wins.”  No.  He fought.  And fought.  Until God literally dislocated his hip.  He was the opposite of passive.  And from there on his name was Israel.

What if Zechariah had simply folded up shop and never tried to speak again, and then never raised his son John with the strength of a man who had been afflicted by God for months without the ability to speak?  Can you think of someone more rebellious than John (other than Christ himself of course).  How pissed off do you think Zechariah was at God?  At himself?  How much did that anger fester and build until he was at a boiling point where he could hear the words, “His name is John” and finally speak them.

The Bible is a lot of things.  But a guidebook on how to live a quiet, keep-to-yourself passive life taking whatever comes your way isn’t one of them.

I am not convinced that we should so easily accept God’s will but should become angry, become self-examining, become God-examining, even possibly fight.  Because it is often through these very struggles that we become who we are meant to be.  We are the Jacob who becomes Israel.  Perhaps these minor tragedies that affect our lives are meant to press us to a point of breaking, with the knowledge that God will see to it that the pieces fall in a way that was better than when they were whole.

If you are struggling, perhaps take a break from praying for your struggle to end and pray for guidance on the change God is seeking in your life.  Pray for guidance on how to push through this tragedy as opposed to walking away from it.  Pray for the strength God is desperately hoping you will realize he has given you.  Pray for the eyes to see the discipline God is seeking to infuse into your life.

Again, this is not a simple matter.  And perhaps your struggle has nothing to do with a change God wants to see in your life.  Maybe it’s just a struggle.  Sometimes things suck.  Sometimes things are tragic.  But my encouragement to you is to be less passive in the face of God’s will and accept the challenge that the struggle presents you.  Feel the anger it makes you feel.  Feel the sadness it makes you suffer.  Get angry with God and tell him you are angry.

But don’t take the risk of missing the very breakthrough you may need because you read somewhere that no matter what, everything bad should just be accepted.  You must accept God’s will.  But don’t assume it is his will that you stop fighting at the first sign of struggle.

JDV

Now… go be amazing.  It’s how you were built.

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God’s will: I’ve had it backwards all this time.

I’m working my way through a good book titled Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung, and it’s all about his unconventional methodology behind discerning God’s will for your life.  SWEET!  I really want to know God’s will for my life, and I REALLY like things that are unconventional.  So I saddled up and started reading.  And what a HUGE disappointment!  There is no magic bullet in discerning God’s will.  In fact, I’ve been going about it all wrong all these years.  Well, “backward” would be more accurate than “wrong.”

I’ve always felt like the smaller details of my life would fall into place once I finally grasped my major life calling from God.  I don’t really struggle with the huge things in life.  My struggle is in the daily details.  My sins, my rebellions, are in the small daily diversions which are so available to us these days.  And I am a sucker for all of them.  I won’t stand before God with three or four major life rebellions to account for.  I’ll stand before Him with a list of thousands of things I either did or didn’t do that were sinful.  But every one of them on their own seemed genuinely inconsequential.

But once I receive my calling from God, that will all be over.  Because then my life will be in alignment and these things which draw my attention away from God will lose their luster, their magnetic power over me.  In other words, once the BIG thing is in place… all the little things will take care of themselves.

So apparently I needed this book Just Do Something to finally realize how completely insane this perspective is.  Trust me, even as I write this it sounds nuts to put these words on screen.  But literally until about twenty minutes ago, this was my thinking.  If only the huge driving force that I’m supposed to adhere to in life would simply be revealed, then my minor rebellions, my little failures to walk with God, will be no longer.  I’ll be so frickin’ inspired that my struggles will simply dissolve!  My near addiction to these little rebellions will be overpowered by a passion that consumes me… the passion to pursue my newly discovered WILL OF GOD IN MY LIFE!  (Read that last part with a dramatic booming voice, okay?)

Is this how anything works?  Of course not.  It makes so  MUCH MORE SENSE for God to say, “I will be patient and wait for you to follow me in all of these little things you do before I reveal to you the main purpose for which you’ve been created.”  Of course that makes more sense!  So much more sense that I’m literally embarrassed to have had to write the paragraphs preceding this one.

Why on earth would God send me on the very largest mission for which I’ve been created when I can’t string together 70 solid minutes of obedience to Him in the smallest details of my life?  Why would I expect Him to, either?  And isn’t there a MASSIVE sense of arrogance and entitlement in my prior understanding?  “Hey God, I know I basically ignore you at every opportunity I get… but that’s kinda on you, isn’t it?  Hook me up with a sweet calling and then I’ll stop treating you like a doormat.  Bueno?  Great.  Now hop to it pal.  Jeopardy is on soon.”

Wow.  That’s an only slightly exaggerated version of the inside of my head until about a half hour ago.  It’s shameful.  Thank God (literally) that he loves us as much as He does.

I spend the last couple of weeks of each year praying and asking for a single word to guide me through the coming year. It’s something I picked up from Brian Hardin of the One Year Daily Audio Bible years ago.  The word I got this year is, “Execute.”  I’m an idea guy.  But in my process of coming up with huge ideas, I really don’t execute on the basics that are the foundation of any genuinely meaningful life.  Last year my word was, “Achieve” and I ran the Chicago Marathon.  It almost killed me.  But I did it.  However, I did it in the worst possible way.  I failed to train properly.  I failed to eat properly.  I did what I usually do: I winged it.  I half-assed it.  And through sheer will and determination I finished that marathon.  I injured my left ankle and both feet doing so, though, due to my lack of preparation.  So my word for this year is, “Execute.”

How do you execute?  There are a hundred things happening in my life that point to the fact that execution is about the daily little things that add up to a major accomplishment.  These daily disciplines are missing from my life.  I am not going to understand the will of God in my life that I might receive SOMEDAY until I respect Him enough to execute on the small daily things He has ALREADY told me to do.

No, I don’t know if God wants me to quit my job and become a pastor.  I haven’t received that major life direction yet from God.  But God did speak to me about the smaller things.  He spoke to you too.  Through scripture.  It’s easy to forget, as we’re waiting for the loud booming voice from heaven, that the voice of God is probably sitting on a shelf in our living room right now.  Real, tangible, useful direction from God on how to answer his calling in our lives.  We call them spiritual disciplines.  Prayer.  Worship.  Sacrifice.  Charity.  And the Bible is full of them.  Have you ever seen one of those funny billboards, “If you’ve been waiting for a sign… this is a sign.”  Well similarly, if you’ve been waiting to “hear from God” on how to live your life, then why not go ahead and read the book He gave on how to live our lives?

So I suppose I actually have received my calling from God.  It’s written in the dozens of books of the Bible that I’ve read over and over… but haven’t really followed.  I look forward to spending the next year executing on these small daily things that God has already called me to do.  Execute on these little daily things.  Subject my life to God in all these little ways.  All this time I’ve been praying about surrendering to God and haven’t even taken the smallest of steps like changing up my morning routine.  “Oh… you mean surrendering to God is more than just a passionate well-spoken prayer?  I actually have to change tangible things in my daily life?  Who knew??”

So that’s how my 2017 started.  It’s amazing what happens when you take a few hours away from TV and internet.

God bless you all!  And Happy New Year.

J

Quick Post: Diving in without a life jacket.

“But tithing is a solid way to affirm your faith in God and His infinite ability to provide and care for His children.”

Doug Waldron / Foter.com / CC BY-SA
ORIGINAL FULL POST

Today’s quote is from a comment left on the original post and I love it!  Tithing is one of those things you can over think.  I know, because I over-thought it for decades.  One day I dove in head first and have been tithing ever since.  It will change your life.

We all have something we wish we were doing.  Tithing.  Reading scripture.  Praying.  What’s holding you back?  And is it really holding you as firmly as you think?  Challenge yourself today to shake off those restrictions and dive in, no life jacket.

We were built to be heroes.

It’s about time we started acting like heroes.

Photo credit: Doug Waldron / Foter.com / CC BY-SA