Being Delivered From “Finding The Will of God”
The Paralysis of Analysis! That term coined to describe someone who is frozen in a particular situation because they can never come to a definitive decision as there is always another “angle” to consider.
Christianity has it’s own Paralysis of Analysis. It’s called Finding the Will of God!
What does God want me to do? What does he want me to be? Who does he want me to marry? What university should I go to? Or does he even want me to go to university? Should I become a missionary? Should I become a pastor? Do I need to quit my job…or find a new one?
Should I stay…or should I go?
You get the picture.
Having been in charismatic circles for almost 40 years now I can’t tell you how many revival meetings I have gone to were I have watched thousands of people race to the front alter hoping the man or woman of God will have some “Word from the Lord” that will help them divine some sense of purpose and direction in their lives.
We Christians like to decry astrology and fortune telling but we have recreated our own elaborate oracle system in attempt to discern when the gods favor rests upon us.
Sometimes it feels like we are using a cosmic “Magic 8 Ball”
The “Free Will” part is we get to choose
Believe it or not, sometimes I think God doesn’t care what we choose…just choose!
Twenty five years ago I started my work in Christian ministry by attending a 6 month program in Melbourne Australia with Youth with A Mission. At the end of 3 months our group of 23 was to divide into 3 teams with one going to India, one going to Malaysia, and one staying to journey around Australia.
We were instructed to pray about where God wanted us to go and we were further encouraged not to discuss it with others lest we decide to go to a particular location because a friend was and not because God had led us there.
I wanted to go to Malaysia… but was that what God wanted? Could the fact that “I” wanted to go be a sign that God didn’t want me to? Or was it a sign that he did? Maybe God wants me to “deny myself” and go where I don’t want to go. And even more important, what if I go to Malaysia but God intended me to meet my future wife on the Australia trip?
It’s a typical 23 year old single male in ministry’s prayer:
“Lord If I don’t hear you right on this someone else might end up marrying my wife…the girl you intended for me.”
Oh, Lord what is your “will”? It’s so confusing…
In the midst of this angst a leader at the base but who was not part of our training program asked if I decided yet what outreach trip I was going on. I conveyed to this leader all the conflicted emotions and agendas I was struggling with just trying to “hear God’s voice on it.”
Suddenly without any religiosity or spiritual jargon the lady popped my religious bubble by saying, “Steve, if you want to go to Malaysia, go to Malaysia. God probably doesn’t care which one you choose as he’ll bless you on any of them. Its an 8 week outreach not a lifetime commitment.”
God might want me to make the decision. Oh sweet relief…
I went to Malaysia! (And had a fantastic time!) In fact it was in Malaysia that I picked up a book on China that ultimately led me to Hong Kong a few months later where, surprise, I did meet my future wife!
It’s a Free Range not a Cattle Drive
Many Christians today have become so used to being driven by a leader’s vision that our life in Christ has started to resemble a cattle drive. We are herded in a uniform direction and we become accustomed to thinking that is how God leads us.
But Jesus is referred to as the “Good Shepherd” not the “Good Cowboy”. He doesn’t “drive” or “herd” us, no, our Good Shepherd lets his sheep graze and roam free; We go where we want listening to our Master’s voice for pastures of new life or when our wandering could lead to trouble.
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand
Interestingly enough Paul the Apostle seemed to choose himself where he moved and preached the Gospel only occasionally being guided from above. Jesus told him to stay longer in Corinth (Acts 18:9), warned him about entering Asia (Acts 16:6), and was given a prophetic warning about entering Jerusalem (Acts 21: 11)…which Paul then ultimately chose to ignore (Acts 21:13)
But other than these few occurrences Paul spent years traveling and preaching where he felt he should go!
No longer Shackled by Prophetic Words
Tammy and I have had a number of “prophetic words” given to us over the years and I’ve come to learn these “words” can be a doubled edged sword. On one hand they can give us the “peace” that we are where God wants us but it can also lead us to stay in a bad situation because we haven’t “heard God say leave yet!”
After years in Boulder Colorado where arguably things never ever quite “clicked” for us despite all the prophetic words that led us there in the first place I was still hesitant to return to China when an open door became available because we hadn’t heard God say “leave”.
What if we left and somehow “missed God”? What if God had something for us to accomplish that we won’t if we go?
I remember the day I made a conscious decision not to be bound by the “What if God…” questions anymore. The day I decided I was not longer going to shackle myself or my family’s joy, peace, and stability to “prophetic words”, “words of knowledge”, or “a call”.
Oh, sweet relief! Like chains falling off…
I can point to a myriad of blessings God has shown us since we left Boulder and ultimately returned to Hong Kong. I can also point to many friends and acquaintances that are in tough or damaging situations but won’t leave because they believe that is where God has them.
Over the years I have seen so many poor decisions made simply because someone was convinced it was God’s Will.
Ugh…its hard to watch
Understand I still seek God’s direction and guidance but I refuse to get paralyzed over trying to figure it out all the time. I think Getty Lee from the rock group RUSH sums it up best in their song Free Will
You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that’s clear
I will choose freewill
God gave us free will…but its still our choice to use it!
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