I've been experiencing a bit of inner turmoil as of late. The reason? Well, a couple of weekends ago, I found myself at Frontier Ranch, a beautiful Young Life property in Colorado, for a women's retreat weekend called Captivating. Captivating is a popular book co-authored by husband and wife team, John and Stasi Eldredge. You may recognize his name as the author of the New York Times Bestseller, Wild at Heart. Their books (along with their ministry, Ransomed Heart), aim to "reclaim the heart" (my words, not theirs). The basic premise is that our hearts are under attack from Satan, and we must fight hard to win them back so that we may be restored to the joy that God intended for us in Christ Jesus.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul and spirit, joints and marrow, as it judges the thoughts and purposes of the heart.
Still, I would be lying if I said that this conversational approach to God wasn't appealing to me. What if it were that simple?
So, what's a girl to do in order to determine God's will for her life? Namely, we turn to scripture where God's will has already been revealed to us. 1 Thessalonians 5:15-18 says "See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another, and for all men. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
We (in this order) read God's word (the Bible), develop a heart for God by spending time with God each day in prayer and in His word, seek wise counsel in the form of other men and women of mature faith, look for God's providence-- or the working of cirsumstances in our lives, use our own good judgement, and as a final outlet, we may find that God has divinely intervened, although we do not seek this out, nor wait for it to occour in order for us to act. Waltke develops several chapters around these themes, and I would direct you to them, and his book as a whole, to further understand how these activities work to reveal God's will in your life.
I also like this book that I just found on Amazon. It is called Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God's Will or How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, etc. The book is due for release on April 1, 2009 and shall make a welcome addition to my library. The product review reads
Thanks for taking the time to read through this long post. I know this sort of thing is a bit of a departure from what I normally do, and I apologize if it turns some people off. However, these are things that I have been thinking about lately, and it is near and dear to my heart. I must say this has been helpful for me as an exercise in clarifying what I'm thinking.
Hyper-spiritual approaches to finding God's will don't work. It's time to try something new: Give up.
Pastor and author Kevin DeYoung counsels Christians to settle down, make choices, and do the hard work of seeing those choices through. Too often, he writes, God's people tinker around with churches, jobs, and relationships, worrying that they haven't found God's perfect will for their lives. Or— even worse— they do absolutely nothing, stuck in a frustrated state of paralyzed indecision, waiting . . . waiting . . . waiting for clear, direct, unmistakable direction.
But God doesn't need to tell us what to do at each fork in the road. He's already revealed his plan for our lives: to love him with our whole hearts, to obey His Word, and after that, to do what we like.
No need for hocus-pocus. No reason to be directionally challenged. Just do something.