Sunday, November 4, 2012

Will, God, and Whack-A-Mole

It is a new month, and I have a new mission- to write. I want to write more but honestly I don’t seem all that inspired. My father-in-law always tells me that you have to do whatever God has told you to do, and until he gives you a new assignment, so to speak, you have to keep doing the last thing He told you. This raises the question in my mind of “what was the last thing?” Since men’s brains function more like ice trays than spaghetti, I am tempted to compartmentalize everything into categories. Keep working the last place God had you working. Keep writing the last thing God had you writing. Just keep moving forward in every aspect of your walk with Him. I think that’s probably how it’s supposed to work, not that I am fully convinced God has a specific list of instructions that is “His Will” for our lives. I imagine that God is less of a micromanager and more of a free-spirited leader if you will. Perhaps instead of barking out orders all the time and telling us exactly what he wants us to do, when, where, and how, He might be outlining goals for us and leaving it up to us how we reach them.  After all, isn’t that how we have been instructed throughout our lives to lead. In his book Entreleadership, Dave Ramsey explains a process he uses with his team.  If they bring him a problem he tells them to go away and come back with three possible solutions. When they return he walks them through the process of analyzing the possibilities and determining the best solution then sends them out to implement that.  Then the next time they come barging in his office with a problem they’ll usually bring in several different options but still need help processing through the possibilities to figure out “what would Dave do.” The next step they bring in the problem, the solutions, and their opinion of the right one and ask for confirmation. Eventually they see him in the hall and say “hey, there was a problem; I fixed it.”
               If that’s considered to be the right way to lead, and I think it is, then why would we think God is any different than that? Why do we always picture some tyrant who’s hell-bent on running our lives and whacking us with a stick if we deviate from the exact course he has in mind? What if God’s way of leading and guiding is more equated to goal setting, than that whack-a-mole game we all played as kids? Consider the possibility, for a moment, that God has a destination in mind for you, but how you get there is where the whole “free-will” thing comes in to play. Perhaps God walks us through a process much like Dave Ramsey walks his team members through where he teaches them to do the things he wants the way he wants by spending time together and showing them early on, but eventually releasing them. I don’t imagine that Dave would whack anybody on the head if they were trying and screwed things up, and he can be a bit of a jerk, just in the same way I doubt God is sitting up there with a lightning bolt ready to throw at his little peons. Do you ever picture God sometimes the way artist have depicted Zeus with a scepter in one hand and a lightning bolt in the other reared back ready to launch toward earth? He’s got huge biceps and rippling abs and long curly white hair with a beard, and a voice like Lliam Neison. Whatever, that is sometimes what I picture but I bet it’s a pretty stupid idea. What if, instead, God looks more like a CEO in a nice business suit and lean build.
               So, if God isn’t sitting on a cloud dictating my every move, then what does it mean to do his will?
I’m glad you asked. By looking through scripture it’s pretty easy to figure out what the “Big Picture Will Of God” is. Love! His will is love. There’s also reconciliation and redemption, those are pretty prevalent throughout the Bible. Forgiveness and justice are also recurring themes. So let’s put that into a mission statement type of thing- God is love, but that doesn’t mean he lets us do whatever we want. He is concerned with justice because it is what is right. Because God loves us he figured out a way for justice to coincide with forgiveness, a way to make it right.
We can never forget that God is just. There are consequences that must be faced for each action. His law outlined that the consequence of sin is death so he allowed his perfect son that never did anything wrong to be killed in our place, voluntarily of course. That’s a God concerned with justice.  Justice was served, but so was forgiveness. All of this tells us that God is all about love, forgiveness and justice. And not our stupid court system version of justice where a woman wins millions of dollars in a law suit because she spilled hot coffee on herself.  We’re talking about true justice, a concept we humans probably can’t even fathom.
The entire Bible lets us in to see the true nature and character of God. Through reading we get to learn wisdom and knowledge that will help along the way. It is possible for God to send an angel to appear before you and tell you exactly where to go.  It is also possible for him to whisper gently within your spirit and cause your brain to formulate an idea out of nowhere. God told Jonah exactly where to go, but he told Abraham to go wherever he wanted. I think, therefore, that it is quite possible that at times in your life God will tell you exactly which job to take or which shoes to buy or which person to date. But, I also believe there are times when he will sit you down, lay out the options and let you choose. He didn’t tell Abraham where to walk, only that everywhere he did walk would be his. He let Abraham choose, but Jonah not so much.  He told Jonah to go over to Ninevah and when Jonah didn’t, he got eaten! It seems in most church circles I have only ever heard the Jonah-understanding of God. “You had better listen up, cuz God’s gonna tell you exactly what to do, and if you screw it up you’re gonna get eaten.”  I don’t want to get eaten. I’ve never wanted to get eaten. I’ve actually said out loud in my life that I kind of want to get shot just to see what it feels like, nothing fatal or anything, maybe just a calf or something that will heal. That’s just how crazy I am, but I’ve never wanted to be eaten. So the thought of listening for God’s voice in order to avoid being eaten, that’s some pretty serious business.

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