Today's entry was triggered by my reading a chapter from An Apple for the Road (a great book). In chapter 8, Pam Spinosi writes poignantly about her struggle to free herself from the tyranny of the fear of missing God's plan. (The title is appropriately called "Should I buy bread? Should I wear red? ... What's that God said?"). Her story elicited so many resonating responses in me, that I felt led to attempt to write down a few things that may help set you free from this tyrannizing fear. I will just scratch the surface of this topic today, but maybe a few foundational truths I have learned will help you live more peacefully in the middle of God's purposes for your life. Here's a few thoughts.
Our life with God is best viewed as a journey with a loving Father, not a project for a demanding Master. This one truth unfolds into many wonderful implications that help take away our fear. Because God is the best of Good Fathers...
- He makes discovering His purposes for our lives easy, not hard. What kind of father would make the best choices hard to find? Yet Christians often seems to think God is like this. Nothing could be farther from the truth. God's will is clear for all who take time to enter into intimate, listening relationship with Him.
- He gives us increasing freedom in partnering with Him in making our life choices. Every good father knows that one of his duties as a dad is to help his children make increasingly wise choices. The children are able to do this based on their learning more and more to be like their daddy, more and more filled with his wisdom and character. The more they become like their daddy, the more their choices and desires become totally trustworthy, made in dialogue with their daddy, and the more their father can partner with them rather than dictate to them.
- He delights in our desires, is not threatened by them but rather is calling them forth and folding them into His purposes for our lives, especially as we share more and more of His heart and character. God knows how He made you, including the things that make your heart sing. Do you really think He would dismiss those things that He Himself planted within you as He helps you discover your highest purposes?
- He brings us back on course when we call out to Him after missing a turn. Like a Heavenly GPS, God makes all things work together for our good, including our missteps. (Romans 8:28-29). A quick survey of Scripture shows us how this works. Even the Apostle Paul couldn't find God's will for his second missionary journey without missing a few times, but God kept "reeling him in." (See Acts 16:6-10).
So does this mean that we can just do anything, and it somehow becomes God's best for us? I think you know that's not the case. Living the Jesus life entails being led by the Spirit (Romans 8:14), keeping in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:25), etc. But since Paul clearly states that being led by the Spirit is the mark of sons and daughters, not slaves, (see Romans 8:14-17), whatever else "guidance" means, it's not like getting orders from some sort of heavenly boss. It's best to think of it as a dialogue of a father and his son/daughter as they journey through life. This is obviously how Jesus lived. He was intently focused on His Father and committed to total obedience to Him (John 5:19, 30), but He also clearly dialogued with His Father with a confidence that He was always heard (John 11:41-42). Combining these two thoughts gives us a picture, I think, of a surrendered Son in constant conversation with His Father, sharing His heart and desires with His Abba while also surrendering completely to His Father's infinitely (at the time) superior wisdom and insight. This seems to me to be a fairly good picture for us as well, don't you think?
So from that place of growing intimacy with God, fueled by our getting to know Him through His Word and Spirit and by living life with Him, our journey through life with all of its choices becomes more and more a joyful conversation about the journey rather than a discussion of an unalterable blueprint. What do you think?
One final thought: I often remind people that if we listen to God only for guidance and correction we are missing 95% of the conversation God wants to have with us. Again I ask, what kind of relationship would you have with anyone if the only topics were guidance and correction? Guidance is only a small part of our life with Him, and even calling it "guidance" makes me nervous because God is a father first, not a taskmaster, and relegating Him merely to the role of guide seems to miss the heart of what the Good News is all about. So I will journey with my Papa and we will discover together this amazing future...
Checking my GPS...
Tom, one of Abba's little children