When it’s okay for someone to neuse-hang a mannequin in the likeness of Sarah Palin outside their house and its called free speech and freedom of expression, but it’s not okay for a police chaplain to say the name of Jesus in prayer, well…I’ll take a one-way ticket to anywhere but here. That’s how I’m feeling today.
These words, immortalized by your friend and mine, Axl Rose, speak perfectly the question in the mind of so many people, Jesus-followers notwithstanding. The question of what we refer to as “God’s Will” is something that can oft times be slippery to say the least.
But how do we discern it?
Let me tell you a story. The year was 1995, early 1995. I was rapidly approaching graduation from college and had (months earlier) given God a clear timeline that I expected Him to follow, as it pertains to getting me a job. I distinctly remember advising Him that He’d better get me a job by the time I graduated. “God, what are you still doing here?!? I thought I told you what I want–now go make it happen!” That was the attitude with which I approached Him. Bad move.
But God, I suppose, chose to humor me. Funny God. In fact, I had a solid interview weekend scheduled before spring break that year, just as I had ordered. “Good job, God. You can stick around.”
So, there I was on the Saturday afternoon of my weekend-long interview visit in the sweet little Americana town of Winchester, Virginia. Those who had invited me gave me a car to drive around and gave me a few hours for a self-guided tour of the town.
As I drove through the quiet town, I decided to turn on the radio. I kid you not, these were the first words that came through the speakers, sung by Rod Stewart:
“Leave Virginia alone, she’s not like you…and me…she’s not like you…and me…”
Spiritual Law #1: “God loves you and Rod Stewart has a wonderful plan for your life.”
As it turns out, I dismissed the words of Rod Stewart as silly coincidence and took the job anyway. More on that later….like never. I’ll just suffice it to say that the next 2 years were fairly rough ones. Maybe I should have given more heed to Spiritual Law #1. Especially the Rod Stewart part.
God’s will is a complicated thing–but that’s our fault. I’ve found that there are 2 parts to God’s will. The first part is His “everybody” will, and the second part is His “individual” will. Most people I’ve found give only a quick, passing glance to the everybody part and really get mucked up in the individual part. And therein lies the problem.
God’s will for you and me is only played out and seen through God’s will for everyone. As I live out God’s will for everyone, His will for me becomes clearer and clearer.
My birthday was last month. One of the gifts my kids gave me was a dinosaur dig. Not familiar with the concept? It’s an idea that is pure genius and the guy who thought of it is probably at the bank right now, cashing another check. Essentially, you take a box, put a bunch of plastic pieces of dinosaur bones in the box, and fill the rest with mud. The mud hardens into clay, you slap a label on it called “Dinosaur Excavation Kit” or something adventurous-sounding like that, and voila–order the Porsche.
So, as my kids and I were collectively digging for pieces of the dinosaur puzzle, I was reminded that the revelation of God’s will only comes when we dig. And digging is dirty.
I’ve got a friend who is living the dig right now. He’s essentially said to the staff he’s on, “I’m outta here.” But outta here to where? Not sure yet. He’s still digging. But you’ve got to admire the kind of faith that would cause someone to pick up a shovel and start digging, while not being quite sure of what will be unearthed.
But we often think God is in hiding–giggling to Himself in a closet somewhere; thrilled to death that He has successfully hidden from us and left us clueless…again. But God’s not like that. To stick with the hide-and-seek analogy, if God “hides” at all, it is the way that I hide when I play that game with my kids. I’ll be careful not to be TOO quiet, or I’ll cover my mouth and in a loud whisper say, “I’m over here!” No, God’s not interesting in frustrating us. He’s interested in creating a passion within us to find Him, follow Him, and delight ourselves in who He is.
This is my oldest son Crews, in his halloween costume. He’s a glow-in-the-dark skeleton. At least that’s what the package said. But alas, he is neither in the dark, nor does the costume glow, even when it is.
Scary, you say? Fiendish? Ghoulish? Unfit for an 8 year old boy?
The second he saw this costume, he just loved it.
Softie that I am, I conceded. On one condition…
I told him that we’d hang a sign on his back:
“Don’t die without Jesus.”
That should do the trick.