Too Many Choices – Part 2

4 Apr

** This post is a continuation of Too Many Choices Pt.1**

We’ve grown up hearing about being created with a purpose, finding our calling, and making sure that our decisions are in God’s will, in addition to probably never having heard the Jeremiah 29:11 passage in its proper context. Given this track record, it makes sense that we have certain expectations of how focused our lives should be, and expectations of how clearly God should communicate with us. Unfortunately, our natural propensity to lean towards the “easy way out” manifests itself in these teachings. The “easy way out” says that there is one sole vocational purpose that we were created for, one sole, life-guiding calling to walk in, and that God’s “good and perfect will” is somehow the sum of these two things. It’s “easy” because according to this line of thinking, there is only one right answer for your life, ad Jeremiah 29:11 tells you that God wants to let you in on it. God chose it for you, God chose you for it, God wants you to do it, and He wants to work everything out for your good. How could life get any simpler?

We believe that if we fit all of the pieces of this equation together and follow the formula perfectly, the result will be a stable, and relatively comfortable, life. However, none of this sounds like a life evidenced in the scriptures. If anything, we’re often warned of the fleeting, unstable nature of our world, and the fact that our only hope for consistency lies in the immutable nature of our God. The whole deal is really quite ironic, because we find ourselves shrouded in stress of ecclesiastical proportions, trying to decipher this perfect formula for our individual lives. The spiritual implications include loosing trust in God when He’s seemingly unclear on what you should do, and the practical implications include being frustrated with having no idea what to do with your life. With the exceptions of pastors and other forms of “Christian celebrities,” it seems as though this traditional line of thinking just leaves the “average” Christian stuck. So where does that leave us? How then do we decide?

I’m reminded of the parables of the talents and the minas, respectively found in Matthew 25:14-30 and Luke 19: 12-28. These parables show a man giving various amounts of talents (a form of currency) to three different servants before he leaves for an extended trip. Upon his return, the first two servants had invested their talents and were able to return the money with interest. However, the third servant with the least amount of talents (read: information) was too afraid to do anything with his talent, and simply returned what the master had already given him. The master was pleased with the first two servants, because they understood what they had been given, and took the initiative to utilize their resources to benefit the master. Rhetorically speaking, what was the likelihood of the master coming back and getting upset at the servants for giving him more than he asked for? Conversely, the master was displeased with the lack of faith and initiative of the other servant who buried what he was given, in favor of a “safe” transaction.

Kevin DeYoung humorously states the conundrum of personal choice and God’s will this way: “At the rate some of us are going, we will be exploring our future career at thirty, entering adulthood at forty, trying to find ourselves at fifty, questioning everything again at sixty, pondering a career move at seventy, wondering what we were made for at eighty, and still waiting to discover God’s will at ninety.  And then we’ll die, never having done much of anything. If we had done something—almost anything, really—faithfully and humbly and for God’s glory for all that time, we could have made quite an impact. But if we do nothing, because we are  always trying to figure out the perfect something, when it comes time to show what we did for the Lord, we will not have anything.”

“Whatever happens” as a result of our passivity ≠(does not equal)God’s will. Author and Pastor John Ortberg had the following to say about making decisions: “Sometimes we don’t really want guidance so much as we want to avoid taking chances.” He went on to say the following: “God does not intend that guidance be a shortcut to escape making decisions and taking risks. Indeed, God wants us to develop good judgment, and there is no way to develop it apart from a process that involves choices and risks. God’s purpose in guidance is not to get us to perform the right actions. His purpose is to help us become the right kind of people.

God is big enough to accomplish anything He could ever want in and of Himself. We were created for His glory, and for His pleasure. It stands to reason that the greatest thing that we can ever “do” in our lives is to know God. Why else would Jesus say this in Matthew 6:33 after discouraging worry: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Ultimately, we become more Christ-like, and know God more in the context of different life experiences. Whether I choose to live on campus, or off-campus, with or without a roommate, majoring in Biology or History as long as I seek the kingdom of God first, I will experience God, albeit in a different way.

Don’t let the notion of “security” fool you into thinking that because its “safe” its God’s will. An anonymous famous guy once said: “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.” Though God may not tell us our future, He most certainly holds our future in His hands. Take solace in that, make some choices, read Romans 8:28, and enjoy the ride.


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