I’m often paralyzed when presented with multiple options when I have to make a decision. It’s a blessing and a curse. “Our freedom to do anything and go anywhere ends up feeling like bondage more than liberty, because decision making feels like pain, not pleasure” (DeYoung). I don’t like cutting off my options and thinking the grass could have been greener on the other side. I think I’ve caught the FOMO (fear of missing out) disease that’s going around.
Graham and I are currently going through a tough life choice, so when we reached out to Pastor JD from Origins, he immediately suggested that we read Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will by Kevin DeYoung. At a mere 128 pages, it took me no more than a few hours to enjoy.
After finishing, I felt liberated.
What did this book teach me?
1. “God has a specific plan for my life, but it is not one that He expects me to figure out before I make a decision.” [quote modified]
From a Christian perspective (keep in mind that I didn’t grow up in a Christian home), I was led to believe that God would tell me His individual, specific plan in every aspect of my life (the who, what, where, and when bits).
We can be sure that God works for the good in Jesus Christ and, “looking back, we will often be able to trace God’s hand in bringing us to where we are. But while we are free to ask God for wisdom, He does not burden us with the task of divining his will of direction for our lives ahead of time.” We know He has a plan for our lives, but there’s no reason for Him to tell us what it is before it happens.
2. Waiting for God’s will can be harmful.
If we’re so preoccupied with finding God’s will, we won’t actually DO anything. “Expecting God to reveal some hidden will of direction is an invitation to disappointment and indecision… it allows too many Christians to be passive tinkerers who strangely feel more spiritual the less they actually do.”
We sit around and wait to hear from God. “Passivity is a plague among Christians. It’s not just that we don’t do anything; it’s that we feel spiritual for not doing anything.” (emphases mine)
3. I probably won’t hear from God like I think I will.
Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. (Hebrews 1:1-2)
“Apart from the Spirit working through Scripture, God does not promise to use any other means to guide us, nor should we expect Him to. God can use extraordinary means, but they are, by definition, out of the ordinary and not to be expected.”
4. Being fascinated with the will of God means that I don’t have complete trust in God’s promises and provision.
“We don’t just want His word that He will be with us; we want Him to show us the end from the beginning and prove to us that He can be trusted. We want to know what tomorrow will bring instead of being content with simple obedience on the journey. And so we obsess about the future and we get anxious, because anxiety, after all, is simply living out the future before it gets here.”
“Worrying about the future is not simply a characteristic, it is the sin of unbelief, an indication that our hearts are not resting in the promises of God.” And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? (Matthew 6:30)
5. God will help me make decisions in the form of wisdom, which can be found in the Bible.
Our God is a “good God who gives us brains, shows us the way of obedience, and invites us to take risks for Him… and showing us the future is not God’s way. His way is to speak to us in the Scriptures and transform us by the renewing of our minds. His way is not a crystal ball. His way is wisdom.”
We need to start looking to God and thus have confidence to take risks for Him, without fretting over a hidden will of direction.
“Wisdom is what we need to live a Godly life.” And what is wisdom? Wisdom is understanding the fear of the Lord and finding the knowledge of God. (Proverbs 2:5) Wisdom is knowing God and doing as He commands. We get this wisdom by reading our Bibles (storing up God’s commands), listening to sound advice (turning our ears to wisdom) and praying (calling out for insight).
6. That said, I need to stop fretting about “nonmoral” decisions that are not found in the Bible.
“The most important issues for God are moral purity, theological fidelity, compassion, joy, our witness, faithfulness, hospitality, love, worship, and faith. The problem is that we tend to focus most of our attention on everything else [what career to have, who to marry, etc.]. We obsess over the things God has not mentioned and may never mention, while, by contrast, we spend little time on all the things God has already revealed to us in the Bible. In other words, we spend most of our time trying to figure out nonethical decisions.”
“The decision to be in God’s will is not the choice between Memphis or Fargo or engineering or art; it’s the daily decision we face to seek God’s kingdom or ours, submit to His lordship or not, live according to His rules or our own.”
7. Just do something: take a risk.
We need to stop overspiritualizing every decision and start making a difference for God sooner. The book gives Esther as an example. She didn’t wait to discern God’s will for her life. She did what was right and acted; she took a risk for God.
“God expects and encourages us to make choices, confident that He’s already determined how to fit our choices into His sovereign will.”
Ultimately, it comes down to this biblical way: “Seek first the kingdom of God, and then trust that He will take care of our needs, even before we know what they are and where we’re going.” We need to “stop pleading with God to show us the future, and start living and obeying like we are confident that He holds the future.
“Die to self. Life for Christ. And then do what you want, and go where you want, for God’s glory.
“So the end of the matter is this: Live for God. Obey the Scriptures. Think of others before yourself. Be holy. Love Jesus. And as you do these things, do whatever else you like, with whomever you like, wherever you like, and you’ll be walking in the will of God.”