Some say you can find God’s call through prayer and study of God’s Word.
As a young, on fire Christian, I was driven to find God’s call on my life. What did He want me to do? How did He want to use me specifically? And even more importantly, How do I find out?
Many Christians teach that knowing the will of God is found in the bible and through prayer. This sounds great at first blush. Easy, in fact.
But what happens when you actually sit down to DO just that?
The big picture snapshot applicable to every Christian is this call: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel.” It’s when you drill down a little that things get dicey. Where do I preach the gospel? When do I go? What method am I to use? Should I be a preacher? Teacher? A lawyer? A doctor? A missionary? Counselor?
I was counseled to pray and study scripture to find the answers to what God had in mind for me. So, I asked myself, practically speaking, where do I start?
- At Genesis and work forward or Revelation and work back?
- The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John? (What do I do with the contradictions that muddy the waters?)
- What if the book of Acts pops into my head while I’m praying? Is that God telling me to read Acts to find specific instruction?
- Acts says, “Leave your country and your people and go to the land I will show you.” Is that God? Should I pack up and go now? If so, go where?
- Maybe it’s a simple game of Bible Roulette? Crack it open and see where my finger lands. But, what happens if I end up on some truly bizarre verse?
Let’s say while in the act of seeking God’s will through prayer and bible study, I have a random thought pop into my head about pepperoni. Does that have meaning? Is God trying to reach me?
I could conclude that I should stay right here in America since pepperoni is an American version of salami. But where exactly in the U.S.? West Virginia is where pepperoni originated. So, I should go to WV. The very thought that God is speaking sends a shiver across my shoulders. Is that confirmation that I’m onto something? But where exactly in WV? And what am I to do when I get there?
This is but the beginning of the mind bending exercises that are all too common for many Christians. Guess work, the tingles and luck of the biblical draw drive life’s decisions. I’ve heard more preposterous stories like that than I can count over our decades in ministry.
But you know what’s worse? Acting on these tingles and the scripture that pops off the page is considered obedience and faith. Both of which are highly prized among Christians.
For us it unfolded like this: When it came time for my husband to graduate from seminary, his prayer and contemplation led him to sense an inner stirring that he had the call of God for missionary service. Scriptures he’d been studying served as confirmation that God was speaking. And when he confided in a fellow student, he confirmed it as a great idea.
Take a guess at what my husband’s primary focus of study was throughout four years of seminary. Go ahead. Guess.
As a result, we sold everything, found a new home for our dog, left our jobs, friends and family and headed for Africa. Think on that for one second… put yourself there. Start with: Sell. Everything…
In hindsight, it’s mind boggling that we did all that based on nothing more than an inner stirring that would make perfect sense even without supernatural intervention.
It’s a fact, you tend to hit the target you’re focused on. My husband had missions in his cross hairs. Is it any wonder that he thought that was God’s calling?
As a parent, when I want my children to do something, I tell them with clarity. No guess work needed. No reading between the lines. No whispering from dark corners. God likens himself as the heavenly father. Clear communication seems a fair expectation when the stakes are so high.
It’s sobering to face that I nearly lost my husband in Africa: Once at gun point by a thief and twice with malaria. As an ExChristian, I view all of this through an entirely different lens…
Attempts to find the will of God are a frustrating folly at the least. Attempts to obey them can be deadly at the worst.