Monday, August 12, 2013

Just Do Something!

Decisions, decisions. Daily, we are confronted with them. There is not a single person whose life is not full of decisions, and sometimes they can feel make or break. We worry that the wrong decision might set off a domino effect which causes our entire life to cascade down into a pit of despair. Where will I work? Whom will I marry? Where will I go to school? Where will I live? Paper or plastic? Take-out or delivery? We are confronted with so many decisions, on a daily basis, that it is very easy to feel paralyzed by fear. How do we know that we’re making the right decisions? How can we be certain that today’s decision will not lead to tomorrow’s disaster?

So this is what I tell people all the time: “Follow Jesus, and do what you want to do.” It sounds simple, I know, almost too simple. But I think this is what the Bible teaches us about our decision making, and this is the way the Holy Spirit normally works in guiding us in our daily lives. Notice, I said it’s the way the Spirit normally works, not the way He always works. But I think for the most part, in the mundane decisions of life, we needn’t wait on a still, small voice, or a burning bush from Heaven to make those decisions. We simply follow Jesus, we pray, we serve others, we battle sin in our lives, and we follow our God-given desires. Because this is what happens when we follow Jesus; he changes the desires of our heart to become the desires that he wants us to have. His desires become our desires.

Don’t believe me? Listen to what the Psalmist says: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4) That sounds an awful lot like, “Follow Jesus and do what you want to do,” to me. Here’s the way I believe it works itself out in normal, every day life. We follow Jesus, trust Jesus, serve Jesus, and in the course of doing that, we come to a fork in the road. We can take either of the two forks. Neither is inherently sinful. Whatever decision we make will be morally neutral. I can glorify Jesus whether I work at the bread factory or the bank. So what do I do? I ask myself, “What do I want to do?” And then I do that, and I count on God, in his sovereignty, to work out the details. I think sometimes we have this mistaken idea that God is sitting up in Heaven, fearing that if we make the wrong decision, if we decide to go to Mississippi State instead of Southern Miss, then our entire life and his entire plans for us are going to be ruined. That’s not the way it works. God already knows what you’re going to do, and he already has his plans mapped out accordingly. You’re not going to surprise him. So trust him, do something, and then continue to trust him.

Now, this doesn’t preclude us from praying, and seeking counsel from people who are wiser than us and have walked our same path. We must do these. I would argue these are all normal parts of following Jesus. So we ought to be doing these in the daily course of things. But it does preclude us from sitting, paralyzed, waiting for a sign from God before we move forward, when he has already placed these desires in our  hearts for particular things through the Holy Spirit.

Now, with all that having been said, many of us have probably experienced something like this before: we want to do one thing, but we feel very strongly that God is calling us to do another thing. Neither choice is inherently sinful, but one seems to be the righter thing, even though it's not necessarily what we want to do. So we believe God is leading us to do something we don't really want to do. What do we do in situations like this?

And here, I think is the answer. One of two things is probably in play here, and you need to figure out which one it is:

1 - The reason your desires and God's desires aren't lining up is because you are not following Jesus the way you should be following Jesus. Examine your relationship: are you serving Jesus? Is there some unconfessed sin in your life? Is your flesh creeping up on this particular decision? Maybe you know deep down that to follow Jesus in this particular situation is the right thing to do, and the thing that will make you most happy. But you don't want to give up some lesser thing to do it. Whatever it is, you need to confess it and get on with what God is calling you to do, and understand that it is what will ultimately make you most happy.

2 - But perhaps the reason your desires and God's desires aren't lining up is because they aren't really God's desires in the first place. I have seen this often. We think God may be "calling" us to do something, but what's really happening is that we're getting pressure from outside force: maybe it's a friend or a family member or church member. This is not what you want; it’s what they want. And maybe, quite possibly, they've pulled the God card on you, saying this is what God wants you to do. I've seen this time and time again in a variety of ways: maybe it’s about a way of dress, or maybe it's about getting married or having children, or having more children, or buying something or not buying something. Whatever the case, the pressure you're feeling may not be from God; it may be from some outside source that is trying to fit their notions of what God wants on to you. So in this case, you need to ask yourself: is what I'm feeling truly Biblical, truly Spirit led, or coming from some other source?

God has revealed himself to us through his Word. It is full of insight, both practical and theological; about those things we should do and should not do. And if you will follow his will, as he has revealed himself in scripture, he will place the right desires in your heart on the things that he hasn’t revealed specifically. And here’s the thing you can count on; even though whatever you choose, it might not work out exactly the way you planned, you can know that God wants your happiness, even more than you want it. The things he is seeking for you will make you infinitely happier than anything you could come up with on your own. So follow him, and let him change your desires, and then do something, just do something. Count on him to take care of the rest. If you will embrace this, it will be some of the most freeing news you have ever experienced.

For more on this subject, check out this book - "Just Do Something!" by Kevin DeYoung.