You've seen the WWJD bracelets, now visit the website! Answer Me Jesus offers an interactive, Magic 8-Ball style program that answers all of life's questions for you! "Should I get a new hair cut?" "Yes, My Child." "Should I eat fried chicken for dinner?" "Resist the devil." "Should I brutally murder my teacher?" "Wait for a sign."
The site is meant as a joke, but I fear that it's eerily close to how some Christians tend to view God. We feel like every decision we make, from the mundane to the earth-shattering, has a specific right and wrong answer. And that if we just pray hard enough, God will give us the answer we are seeking. But we don't dare make a move until we know for sure.
I think there are some circumstances in which God has a specific decision that he wants us to make. He told Jonah to go to Ninevah, and he manipulated weather and wildlife to re-direct him when he tried to go another way. But most decisions are not like that. God has given us brains and decision-making abilities so that we can figure things out for ourselves. This doesn't mean leaving God out of the decision-making process, but it does mean trusting your gut more often when he doesn't seem to be giving you a clear direction.
Psalm 37:4 says, "Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart." The underlying message of this passage is that, guess what, our hearts get to have desires. We can want things, and if we're seeking God first and foremost, then the things we want will be good things, and God will give them to us. That's pretty exciting. Especially for someone like me, who has spent so long trying to figure out what God wants me to do that I've practically forgotten to want anything for myself.
Some of you might be wondering why I haven't mentioned seminary in a while. That's because I withdrew about a month ago. I wrote something up about it when I made the decision, but it was too raw to post publicly. I kept telling myself I would figure out how to say what I wanted to say, but I never seemed to get around to it.
The easy answer is that I stopped going to seminary because I was tired. Tired of school, tired of the stress of deadlines, tired of always living in a future-oriented, "after I graduate" world. But the much more complex answer is that I was fumbling around, learning an important lesson about God's will.
I went to seminary because the opportunity presented itself and it seemed to make sense. I went because I was trying to figure out what God wanted me to do with my life. That wasn't a bad reason to go, but it would have been a bad reason to continue going after I figured out that I didn't want to be there. When I started seminary, I remember saying that I wanted to do something, and if God wanted me to do something else, then he would redirect me, because it's easier to redirect a stream than a stagnant pool. Well, I was redirected. But not in a way I expected.
I felt like a failure when I first started feeling like I didn't want to continue with seminary. Like I was letting God down. But I think God was trying to teach me precisely the lesson I touched on at the beginning of this post: He gave me a heart and a mind and a will for a reason, and he wanted me to start using them.
And I'm happy with what I'm doing right now. I feel, in an odd sense, that working at Starbucks is the green pasture that I've been waiting for so long for. It may not be what I want to do with the rest of my life, but I've been working so hard for so long, stressing myself sick, that it's nice to have a window of peace, even if it's just for a season.