Waiting for God's will

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I'm part of a group going through The Purpose Driven Life, and I've just read Chapter 5, which refers to the Parable of the Talents. That reminded me of this item from Lark News, a very funny Christian news satire website, which I meant to blog about months ago. Actually, the more I think about this the sadder it seems:

Man, 91, dies waiting for will of God

TUPELO Walter Houston, described by family members as a devoted Christian, died Monday after waiting 70 years for God to give him clear direction about what to do with his life.

"He hung around the house and prayed a lot, but just never got that confirmation," his wife Ruby said. "Sometimes he thought he heard God's voice, but then he wouldn't be sure, and he'd start the process all over again."

Houston, she says, never really figured out what his life was about, but felt content to pray continuously about what he might do for the Lord. Whenever he was about to take action, he would pull back "because he didn't want to disappoint God or go against him in any way," Ruby says. "He was very sensitive to always remain in God's will. That was primary to him."

Friends say they liked Walter though he seemed not to capitalize on his talents.

"Walter had a number of skills he never got around to using," says longtime friend Timothy Burns. "He worked very well with wood and had a storyteller side to him, too. I always told him, 'Take a risk. Try something new if you're not happy,' but he was too afraid of letting the Lord down."

To his credit, they say, Houston, who worked mostly as a handyman, was able to pay off the mortgage on the couple's modest home.

Many evangelical Christians are afflicted with this form of paralysis, which is the result of defective teaching about discerning God's will and making decisions. There's this notion that God has a specific plan for your life that He expects you to follow, and if you don't, you've wasted your life, but He's not going to make it easy for you to find out what that plan is, or to distinguish between your own gut feelings and human advice and what God really wants you to do.

The truth is that God has revealed in the Bible everything He wants us to know about Himself and what He wants us to do. Within those boundaries, we have the freedom and the responsibilty to make prudent decisions. In terms of career, that means seeking the counsel of friends, parents, and mentors, and having a realistic view of our own gifts and skills, and even considering our own desires.

I could go on about this, but I'm too tired right now. Go look at larknews.com and have a thought-provoking laugh. And for a more serious treatment of the issue of decision-making, vocation and God's will, check out this page of Q&A from Tim Keller, the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. Note particularly the entries under "God's Will" and "Vocation".

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on March 31, 2004 12:02 AM.

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