Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Life Hack to Finding God's Will

[The Midweek Encounter is a ministry of Encounter Church in Kentwood, MI. These posts are reflections on Sunday's message, which can be heard here each week:]

I’m a reader. Books, blogs, magazines—I think they’re all great. When I have questions or am curious about something, most of the time, I’ll try to read about it.

Photo Credit: Flickr User Stewart, Creative Commons
This past Sunday I was in Tots, so I listened to the sermon on my phone while on a run. This type of environment doesn’t create the easiest listening situation, but when I heard Pastor Dirk say something about a “book recommendation,” my ears immediately perked up. “An awesome book about finding God’s will that I haven’t read? This could solve all my problems!” was seriously the thought that ran through my head.

I’ve been doing this church thing for a while, so I should have seen this one coming, but when the answer was “It’s the Bible,” my shoulders slumped. Not that I dislike the Bible, but the thing is long. It’s not the book I turn to when I’m in the mood for a fun, lighthearted story. Nor does it have Brianna’s Life Plan in an easy-to-read, color-coded format like I’d like it to.

When we talk about how we want to find God’s will for our lives, asking him which school to go to, whether we should buy this house or that one, how many kids we should have, and so on, I think most of the time we want the easy “life hack” answer. We want a quick reference guide we can pull up in the heat of the moment, something quick and simple with very clear answers.

The Bible doesn’t work like that.

Most of the time, finding God’s will doesn’t work like that.

We can be assured that God’s sovereign will, or what Pastor Dirk defined as “the stuff that actually happens,” will always come to be. He’s God, after all. He’s got it. God’s moral will, outlined in the Ten Commandments and elsewhere in the Bible, gives us a pretty clear set of behaviors God does and does not want his followers to adhere to.

His personal will though, the specifics of which job to choose and where to live and when to have kids, is often not nearly as clear. Honestly, passages like Proverbs 3:5-6 often irritate me more than comfort me.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.”

It sounds so nice and simple, but while it says so much, when I’m freaking out over what to do next with my life, it feels like it says so little.

Here’s where my love of reading becomes a danger to me: There is no handy-dandy magical guidebook to how God wants me to live my life.

The way to finding God’s will is the long game. It’s about more than reading his word; it’s about digging in, sitting in it, and then living it. It’s about more than praying for five seconds once a day; it’s about figuring out what a true relationship with God looks like. It’s about more than saying we trust him; it’s about wholly submitting each and every piece of our life to him, every day—which isn’t easy either. “Trust God” is one of those nice Christian-y phrases we like to throw around, but when the tuition is due and the bank account is empty, when the baby is sick and the doctors don’t know why, when the relationships are broken and there’s no foreseeable fix—throwing around “Trust God” seems a bit flat.

Yet it’s right there, in the Bible. So I think learning God’s will and trusting God’s will are things we learn by doing. The Bible tells us to do them, but it doesn’t lay out what it looks like in our individual lives on a daily basis, in the nit and the grit with meetings to attend, children to be fed, bills to be paid, friends to be loved, and decisions to be made. No book in the world can do that.

There is no easy “life hack” to finding God’s will. It’s a process, learned moment by moment as we earnestly seek him. 

[Brianna DeWitt believes in Jesus, surrounding yourself with good people, and that desserts are best when they involve chocolate and peanut butter. You can read more of her musings on her own blog or follow her on Twitter @bwitt722.]

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