Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Finding the Perfect Path No Matter Which Path You Take

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.”
(Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT)

A while back, a friend asked in a Facebook post, 

“How does someone, while making sound decisions, at the same time be walking by faith? (Proverbs 3:5-6) Sometimes living by faith seems to contradict common sense, or does it?” 

It is, of course, a good question.  How does one consult God when making a decision or choosing a “path”?  How do we know we've made the right choice, or are being led by our faith?

I answered the question as best I could, and this post is a slight expansion on that answer.  I post in hopes in will help someone who, like most of us, asks this question in their own lives from time to time.

To start with, God grants us wisdom, and expects us to use it.  Proverbs 2:6 says, 

“For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”

But, in trying to see which path to take, we sometimes have a hard time deciding if we are “following God” or making a “worldly choice”.  We get tied up in “finding and following God’s will” for our lives (which I've heard preached about so many times) as if it were a target we have to hit. 

I've seen too many Christians get so paralyzed while waiting to somehow divine God’s perfect will, trying to divine the exact right path, and waiting for some sign from God, that they become afraid they will miss God’s “perfect will” and screw things up. 

We look for signs and wonders to guide us, instead of using the mind God gave us, and the wisdom granted us through the Holy Spirit.  

I think too many Christians think that God has one perfect will for each of our lives, and if we miss it, our life will be less than what God intended.  I think this is a tragic way of reading the Bible, and a trap of the devil.  One of the most abused verses where Christians tend to follow this train of thought is Romans 12:2, which says, 
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

Many Christians read verses like this, and fret over exactly what “God’s will” for them is, because after all, the verse says we will learn what “God’s will” is……. so we better figure it out.  We become afraid we will miss God's "perfect will" for us, and get caught in the trap of trying to divine the mind of God. 

Should I go on a mission trip?

Should I marry?

Should I buy a car or wait for God to give me one?

Should I go into ministry?

Should I take this or job?

The list goes on and on and on. 

The reality is, God has told us over and over in the Bible exactly what his will for us is.  The Bible doesn't tell us the details of exactly what we should do every day of our life, but how we should live every day of our life as a follower of Jesus.  

The Bible does not tell us what our vocation should be, or where we should live, or who we should marry, or what we should buy. Instead, the Bible tells helps us to figure out how to follow Jesus no matter what our job, where we live, whether or not we marry, or what we have. 

God's perfect will for each of us is to live life by faith in His Son, loving and serving others as we go, teaching people about Jesus.  We should not get caught up worrying about if we’re missing some perfect vocation or direction or calling God has for us. 

(Hint: The only perfect calling is to follow Jesus as perfectly as we can in whatever circumstance we find ourselves. {Matt 5:48})

God's undeniable will is that we love one another, and show His love to the world (1 John 4:12). Everything else, absolutely everything, is learning to live our lives doing that! God will often open doors that take us all over the world, or guide us into certain ministries or jobs or to a certain person to make a difference in their life, but ALL of that is simply an expansion on the main will of God: Love one another, and show His love to the world, in hopes that the lost will seek God because of His love seen in His children. As we learn to do that, I think the rest will follow.

Are you thinking about buying a car? Fine. Think on it. Pray about it. Talk to people, and do your research. Then make the wisest decision you can, and use whatever choice you make to help express God's love in your life. If you choose to buy a car, use the car to help others, to provide transportation to those in need, or get you to a job so that you earn money to provide for your family and help others out of the generosity of what God provides. Or use the money you save by not buying a car and waiting on God to provide (if that seems wisest) to help the needy, or gift a family that needs help. Or save and pay cash for a car so that the money saved on interest can be used in other areas of life. 

Should you save money in a bank or your mattress? What seems to be a wise choice? Banks are not evil, mattresses are not evil. Which choice will allow you to be the best steward of the money God has given you? God gives us wisdom, and He expects us to use it. Seek wise counsel, make a decision, and move forward. (I think the mattress was addressed by the servant that buried his money in the field, though. The Master didn't seem too impressed by that move. Matt 25:24-27)

Should you marry or stay single? The Bible is full of advice on both matters. Pray, seek wise counsel, ask God for wisdom (which He grants through the Holy Spirit), and make the wisest choice you can. Then live your life with all the grace, mercy, and peace you can while following Jesus to the best of your ability.

You get the point.
(Notice, it’s the wisest choice YOU can make.  Who knows if it’s “perfect”?  It’s not possible to know, so don’t try to figure it out. We don’t have the mind of God, but we do the best we can and trust God to help us live as a faithful child of the King.)

That’s pretty much the way it is with everything in life.  God gave us a mind, and will help us with wisdom.  Our part is to do our honest best with what we’re given.  Be assured, we will make mistakes, but God will always be faithful to help us and make our path the best path it can be, if we trust God (Romans 8:28). 

There is no one particular way to live a life of faith. Most of us reading this find ourselves in the USA, and as such, we need to live a life of love in this culture. Everything can be used as a tool for the Kingdom, and everything can be used as a tool against the Kingdom. It’s the hands of the one using the tool that makes the difference. 

Have hands of love, seek God's will to love one another, to serve others sacrificially, and I believe the rest will tend to fall into place. 

After all, to love one another and to seek and save the lost is the very center of God's will. Everything else is defined by that.