Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Finding God's Will, Part 4

I love Kevin DeYoung's title for his book on finding God's Will, Just Do Something. This title explains a major thrust of his book. He wants to prevent people from being passive waiting for some sign from heaven on what they need to do. The author states, "You'll find in this book some of the typical will-of-God fare--how to make wise decisions, how to choose a job, whom to marry, etc. But answering these questions is really not the aim of this book. My goal is not so much to tell you how to hear God's voice in making decisions as it is to help you hear God telling you to get off the long road to nowhere and finally make a decision, get a job, and, perhaps get married" (14).

An alternative title on the cover of the book is interesting too: "How to make a decision without dreams, visions, fleeces, impressions, random bible verses, casting lots, liver shivers, writing in the sky, etc." DeYoung presents an alternative way on finding God's will. It is similar to Gary Friesen's Decision Making and the Will of God. DeYoung divides the will of God into three parts: God's will of decree which is God's sovereign will, what He has ordained to happen. The second part is God's will of desire. This is the revealed will of God in the Bible. It includes all the commands He has given us to obey. The third part is the "will of direction." This is God's individual will for our life. Does God have a specific plan for our life the author asks. He answers in the affirmative. We can often see this will as we look back on the path we have taken. I often comment I see God's will in the past as I see how he has led me. The author cautions us, "But while we are free to ask God for wisdom, He does not burden us with the task of divining His will of direction for our lives ahead of time" (24). In other words, we are not called to figure out God's secret plan before we make a decision.

The author provides good insight on his chapter are challenges to God's direction. He states that we want to know God's will for us because we want to please God. This is good. He lists some other reasons we seek God's will of direction. One reason is that we are "timid." He means that we are fearful of making a decision because of the consequences. We want to know perfectly before we make a decision. However, that is not how it works in the real world. We walk by faith, and not by sight.

Another reason we seek God's will of direction is because "we are searching for perfect fulfillment in this life" (29). If we are not finding perfect fulfillment in our job, relationships, then we must not be in God's perfect will. The Bible does not teach that our pilgrimage in this world will be a place of paradise. Instead, it teaches that we will experience, struggles, disappointment, and persecution. The author think this way of thinking is caused by the current culture. Another challenge is that we have so many opportunities and choices. Having so many choices paralyze us from acting because we do not know what is the perfect choice. He also thinks another reason is that we are cowardly. We are unwilling to take a risk.

Another problem the author points out is that we do not distinguish between moral and nonmoral decisions. We tend to focus on nonmoral decisions in our search for God's will. Most of our decisions are made about nonmoral matters. For example, what color socks should I wear today? Which college should I attend? Who should I marry? What job should I choose? I think you get the picture.

The traditional approach to seeking God's will seem to imply that God is hiding his will from us. DeYoung argues that it accuses God of being "sneaky." He answers that God does not hide things from His people. another problem is that the traditional approach "encourages a preoccupation with the future" (46). DeYoung notes, "We don't just want His word that He will be with us; we want Him to show us the end from the beginning and prove to us that He can be trusted. We want to know what tomorrow will bring instead of being content with simple obedience on the journey" (47). This focus on the future causes anxiety, discomfort, and frustration. Maybe, we are not getting a sign from heaven because God has already shown us how He wants us to live and has given us freedom to make decisions based on wisdom.

The author lists two other problems with the traditional approach to guidance. First, it "undermines personal responsibility, accountability, and initiative"; second, it "enslaves us in the chains of hopeless subjectivism." Too often we blame God for our poor decision and do not take personal responsibility for them. We can learn from our mistakes. It also prevents taking personal initiative. It makes us passive waiting for some sign. People are actively doing something when God calls them to a specific task. "How can I know God's will" seems to the wrong question. The better question is how can I make wise decision. He quotes from Haddon Robinson: "If we ask, 'How can I know the will of God?' we may be asking the wrong question. The Scriptures do not command us to find God's will for most of life's choices nor do we have any passage instructing on how it can be determined. Equally significant, the Christian community has never agreed on how God provides us with special revelation. Yet we persist in searching for God's will because decisions require thought and sap energy. We seek relief from the responsibility of decision-making and we feel less threatened by being passive rather than active in making choices" (51). This does not mean that God's word has nothing to say on how we live our life. DeYoung notes, "But when it comes to most of our daily decisions, and even a lot of life's 'big' decisions, God expects and encourages us to make choices, confident that He's already determined how to fit our choices into His sovereign will" (51). It is a call to be active, not passive in our decision making.

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