Monday, January 30, 2006

Asking God-questions....

A couple weeks ago we celebrated my father's seventieth birthday. There were many family and friends in attendance and I was feeling a little uncomfortable. I realize that my social discomfort was because I was tired of explaining why we had not moved to Pasadena. In fact I spent most of the time talking to those at the party I had not known previously, to avoid the issue altogether. However, I eventually sat down next to my Aunt to eat a piece of cake, giving her the opportunity to ask me about our plans to move. At this point I felt like a recording when I gave the details of the turn of events that had led us to postpone our move. When I explained that we had taken our house off the market after the third escrow had fallen through my Aunt said, “Maybe it is God’s will that you not move after all.”

I responded by saying, “I bristle a bit when people say that.” Feeling that I may have been rather abrupt, I explained I didn't want to assume to know the answers to God-questions like that. She paused a moment and then said, "I understand that, but sometimes we just need to feel sure about these things.” I agree with my Aunt that we all have a need for direction. Fredrick Schmidt says, “We want some indication that we are doing the right thing with our lives, and we are more comfortable having a set of ‘marching orders,' a to-do list.”

006059821201_scthumbzzz_This author goes on to say, “The complexity of our lives also lends urgency to that quest. We live increasingly unreflective lives, consuming minutes, hours, and days without savoring them. We rush from encounter to encounter without asking how those experiences might modify or challenge the way in which we live. And we move reactively through the events of a day, making incremental and unrelated decisions that shape our lives without our being aware of it. Then one day we find ourselves saying, “This is not the life I intended” (xvi).

Questions of choice and God’s sovereignty tumble over each other. Os Guinness warns that there is a danger of conceit in view of one’s uniqueness, and that we should “not confuse calling with guidance.” In our culture we are saturated with choice and change and that leads to real fragmentation.

“Asking God-questions ushers us into another way of being, a new way of seeing the world. As important as the I-questions might be, it is necessary to set them aside initially. If we focus on the I-questions, our search for the will of God becomes myopic and self-centered. God becomes enslaved to our needs, our program, our concerns, and our vision. What we think we can or should be doing is fashioned with little or no awareness of what God is doing in the world” (Schmidt, 27).

I think in many of my own efforts to be sure or comfortable with what I should be doing I have often missed the point. What is God doing in the world and how can I align myself with that? Where is God working? How can I get in on it? Schmidt recommends that we trust and embrace the God-questions so we can move forward with a hope and expectation that the needs of our lives will take shape and significance from something larger; from activity that is no longer focused on us alone, but an enterprise that involves and serves others---whatever that looks like.

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