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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Zephaniah 2:3


Some context: I spent the weekend in Franconia, New Hampshire with my graduating girls from Good Company Tutorials last week. The significance of this is two-fold. First, Robert Frost owned a farm in Franconia, there's a museum of him there, and all his poetry books are gloriously inexpensive. (I got three for $4.50.) And secondly, there was much talk of graduation and moving on and knowing God's plan for your life, great conversations. My head was swimming with the collective wisdom pouring from Robert Frost and these girls. Revisiting Frost's most famous poem (and therefore my least favorite) "The Road Not Taken" was the perfect prelude to what I had to learn from these girls, and these are the questions I asked.

choosing where you want to go . . . do you really have a choice? whether you react decisively or go with the flow, will you end up in the same place as you would have otherwise? do we follow open doors as a sign of God's leading, and where we end up is where He wants us? or do we struggle and follow rough roads in pursuit of a vision of our mission as from God? does God really care what our earthly circumstances are so long as we're serving Him wherever we are? is ambition form God or something we invent ourselves? what does it mean to seek God's plan and leading in our lives? do we have only one ends in this life, or do we seek to accomplish whatever we can accomplish? why do some people have "a calling," and others don't? do people who have "a calling" really have a calling? do people who think they don't have "a calling" really lack a calling? is it possible to screw up my life by choosing the wrong career, or is that just the wrong perspective? is it even possible to have the "wrong" career? is it wrong to wonder or think about what I want to be when I grow up? isn't that self-centered and short-sighted? 

how can we know what our mindset ought to be? 

what does it look like to trust God? 

how can we know?

I know what I think, but I don't want to assume I'm right. I don't need to worry about this now, but I will have to think about it soon and I don't want to be ill prepared. I don't want to struggle with God, and I want so much to be where I ought to be doing what I ought to do. And I am confident that if I seek Him, He'll show me. I thank God for these girls from whom I've learned so much.

6 comments:

Lis said...

"does God really care what our earthly circumstances are so long as we're serving Him wherever we are?" Then what does 'serving' God mean? Does man have the ability to discern the service of God? Is it His act or ours? ...

"I don't want to struggle with God, and I want so much to be where I ought to be doing what I ought to do. And I am confident that if I seek Him, He'll show me." Amen! Amen. 'Tis such a precious promise. 'Tis such a mighty promise. 'Tis such a demanding one, too. (Isaiah 29: 11-13)

"I thank God for these girls from whom I've learned so much." =) So do I. And I thank Him for you.

Michael said...

"(and therefore my least favorite)" I know exactly what you mean.

Your questions, I can't help but take a stab at them. They're not easy to answer, if I even have a hint at all! Here is what I think: It is foolish to worry that you are in the "wrong" career, or that you have "missed out" on what God WOULD have had you do. It doesn't work that way. You are where God wants you to be. However, that doesn't let you off the hook of being responsible, or of questioning what you ought to do.

As for callings. Here's what comes to my mind. I think that everyone has something that they are meant to do and accomplish. It FEELS like someone saying they have a "calling" is arrogant, that 1) they know the mind of God and 2) that they know what makes a difference. I think that people all have a "calling" but not all are meant to know what it is. I think that for some, it is more necessary for God to be direct in telling them what to do, and where to go than for others. But do not be afraid that you'll "miss" your calling, again, it doesn't work that way.

[mc] said...

"it doesn't work that way"

oh, because that's so reassuring Michael. ;)

Hayley, I've thought the exact same questions but never really reached a conclusion. Part of me wants to say "if God wants me to do something, he'll make it painfully obvious". On the other hand, it's almost an excuse to sit back and do what you want while waiting. I have a few ideas regarding what I want to do with my life, but I'm having a hard time telling whether it's ME wanting those things, or God pushing me towards them. Or a combination of both?

Hayley said...

"Then what does 'serving' God mean? Does man have the ability to discern the service of God?" What I meant by that question was, does it matter what your actual job is [i.e. flipping burgers] so long as you have a chance to be a testimony of Christ? "Serving God" is such a loaded, Christian-ese phrase, but I guess I was wondering what serving God through our work looks like, if it's dependent on our earthly circumstances. I don't think it is. Being a stock girl at the supermarket may not directly advance God's kingdom, but through the people I'd met or the attitude in which I'd do my work, I think I could serve God through that.

"You are where God wants you to be." I firmly believe that. Everything happens the way it's supposed to happen, where we are is where we're supposed to be. The implications of that are harder to puzzle through, though.

"I have a few ideas regarding what I want to do with my life, but I'm having a hard time telling whether it's ME wanting those things, or God pushing me towards them." To this my friend Emily would say, just pick something. She says people are too afraid of crossing God's will or ending up in the wrong place when it really doesn't matter. And I think I agree with that, that so long as we're not plowing forward where God is obviously saying no, that so long as we are prayerfully seeking our place in His plan, we'll be fine.

For me, of course, just picking something is kind of impossible for the most indecisive person ever. :P And I don't want to assume this point of view is correct. But I'm certain as long as we seek God, we cannot fail.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post - love the questions, and especially the fact that you are thinking about these issues. Your comment following mc's shows that you already have some good insight into the whole question of "the will of God".

Unfortunately, too many people think that His will is a "hit or miss thing" and they spend much of their lives worrying about missing it. If we, imperfect children of God, desire to do His will why would He, perfect and altogether wise, not lead us into that will? "For it is God who works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure".

As for choosing a career or a job or an area of endeavor, simply consider how God has "wired" you. What do you like to do? What do you have a propensity towards? What do people think you are good at? Is making money a top priority or do you place more value on a flexible schedule? Do you prefer predictability or do you need room for creativity? And so on . . . Also, when deciding on a path, remember that you do not have to know today all that you will be doing in 20 years. "In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths". That presupposes that you are moving about and investigating. He is more than able to close doors and open doors as He directs your steps and He accomplishes His eternal purposes through you.

Is all work an opportunity to serve God? Absolutely!!! "Whatever your hands find to do, do with all your heart as unto the Lord". Whether stocking shelves, teaching a class, cleaning bathrooms or performing surgery, we can serve God if we do all as unto Him and for His glory. Does our commitment to excellence reflect His character as "Christ is formed in us" or are we working just to impress those around us?

Finally, God's ultimate will for each one of His children is that we be conformed unto the image of Christ. He is committed to accomplishing that in us and will do so in whatever field of work we may find ourselves.
So, do not worry about missing His will. Consider your giftings and strengths (as well as weaknesses), deliberate with mature, caring Christians (inluding parents), acknowlege Him and forge ahead. He will most definitely work out His plan for your life - for your ultimate good and His eternal glory.

A fellow pilgrim . . .

Hayley said...

Wow, thank you so much for your insight, that helped to crystalize my scattered thoughts on the subject.