Do we really need another book about God’s will? Another book telling us how to find the secret path? If God wants us to follow His will, He should be showing us what He wants to do? Then why is it so hidden? Why is it so difficult to know what He wants us to do? Who do I marry? Should I work? Should I go to school? Both? Where should I work? Should I give to this organization? How much should I give? How many kids should I have? What school should I send them to? Should I move? Should I be a missionary in Africa? India? Pastor?
“If there really is a perfect will of God we are meant to discover, in which we will find tremendous freedom and fulfillment, why does it seem that everyone looking for God’s will is in such bondage and confusion?” (p. 54).
DeYoung starts his book with Tinkertoys. It’s been popular for a hundred years because kids like to tinker. And so do adults. So what’s wrong with that?
We have a generation of a bunch of people who can’t stick to their guns. They’re not sure if they’re making the right decisions, and most of the time they can’t make decisions period. Nobody wants to be wrong. Nobody wants to go through difficulties. Nobody wants to get stuck with the wrong job, in the wrong state, with the wrong family, at the wrong church, getting gipped by a faulty charity organization.
So, for the Christian, life after high school is often filled with never-ending unlimited possibilities. A world full of choices.
Too many choices.
And they float around waiting for “God’s will” to show them the safe way to everlasting peace and fulfillment.
Enter Grandpa DeYoung
“You just do things.”
“You just do things.”
“‘You just do things'”? Apparently Gramps DeYoung never thought about what God’s will for his life was. He obviously took the wrong course in life having never fretted over God’s will…
By and large, we expect too much out of life. Everything has to ‘fulfill’ us: our spouse, our kids, our jobs, our house, etc. We expect everything to be amazing, and when it’s not we’re severely disappointed and feel as if we’ve been given the slobbery end of the stick.
“I never thought about fulfillment. I had a job. I ate. I lived. I raised my family. I went to church. I was thankful” (p. 31).
That seems…..almost…too simple. Could it really be that I just need to make decisions?
Moving along to chapter 4, DeYoung touches on looking at God as a Magic 8-Ball. The Bible doesn’t light up when that special girl walks by, nor does golden glitter rain down from the sky when she comes into view. Unicorns don’t come up from the ground. And pigs don’t fly. Is he or she “the one”? Not if you don’t talk to them.
But how will I know if God doesn’t show me what He wants? We feel the need for God to show us, to know the future, and to make Him our excuse when we don’t want to do things. “Don’t blame me! God told me so!” This isn’t to say that we can’t say we feel the Lord is leading us into a certain direction, but we shouldn’t use the Holy Spirit as our accountability-dodger.
We never take risks because we never feel peace about them. Well…yeah. That’s the whole point of a risk. God expects us to make good decisions, confident that He already knows what’s going to happen. We can take risks because He already has everything planned out. Why would God give us His Word to teach our brains about seeking, finding, and applying wisdom to our lives, if all we really have to do is ask God for guidance in our every decision?
A Better Way
Trying to ‘find’ God’s will, something that’s supposed to be so freeing, can keep so many people in bondage. That seems paradoxical. Brian Rosner talks about God’s will in his book Paul and the Law (my post here) dealing with 7 verses where Paul mentions the will of God (and they don’t have to do with a mystic guiding hand). God has a sovereign will, which we won’t fully know. It’s too high above us to know. We don’t know His whole overall scheme with all the little details that are involved. But we can know His moral will: what to do, and what not to do. And basically….that’s it.
- God’s will is for me to be obedient to Him in my ethical decisions.
- I am to live a holy life, set apart form the rest of the word.
- God’s will is to shape me into the image of Christ.
It’s not waiting for a “liver-shiver.” It’s being Christ-like in all of my actions.
Chapter 6 is on ordinary means by which God guides us, while chapter 7 are the “interesting” ways that we should stay away from. Read God’s Word or set out a fleece? Seek out godly counsel or follow the verse my finger lands on when I flip open my Bible? Wait for visions and impressions? Or perhaps realize that those things don’t happen quite as often as they did (or as we think they did) in the New Testament.
When miraculous visions happened in the New Testament, nobody was looking for them. Peter just wanted to take a nap on a roof. Paul was simply going to Damascus. Nobody asked Agabus for a prophecy. There were times that God gave Paul a decisive answer on where to go. But usually Paul made choices like the rest of us have to make. “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us” (Acts 15:28-29). Paul didn’t have a GPS. He planned. He made “strategeries.” He prayed, and then did what seemed wise to him. Yes, sometimes matters didn’t go over well (1 Cor. 16:5-7; cf. 2 Cor. 1:12-2:4). In fact, even when the Holy Spirit did tell Paul where to go, it usually ended up with him getting a beating anyway. But he knew God was with him (Acts 18:9-10).
The point is this: fear God, not the future. Obey Him. Be like Christ. And let Him deal with your plans. He has given us good plans to walk in (Eph. 2:10). Pray, make wise choices, and walk.
The Chocolate Milk
I enjoyed DeYoung’s approach to this book. There were times when DeYoung seems to have a heavy hand against those who are just meandering around life. It causes you to sit there and reflect, “Is this me?” (Which, if you know me, much to your dismay, I don’t think this is me and I’m still going over to England). But this isn’t a book that you read for mere information. It is freeing. The next three chapters are well placed and well-defined.
Chapter 8 is on the way of wisdom: the fear of the Lord. Knowing He is above all, and not actin’ a foo’ and listening only to yourself. This book does not “release” for prayer, or ever having to think about making the right decision. You can still (and will) make a wrong decision. But what this book is about is telling you that you can now and have always been allowed to make decisions.
Chapter 9 is on what to look for in a job and in a spouse, and how to be wise in your decisions. This is an important chapter because deals with two of our most important thoughts: How can I provide, and who will I provide for? It’s a chapter that every searcher can receive from.
Chapter 10 is on a final discussion with Grandpa DeYoung and Grandpa Van, and both had a very easy way at looking at God’s will. His will will be done. How did both of them work and get married? They both met, talked, and got along with a girl, married her, and worked at any place that could take them. They worked faithfully to provide for their family, and in their dedication God blessed them.
Some people may have a problem with his stance on “quick(?)” marriage, or meeting a girl, talking to her parents, popping the question, and start making babies. That might be simplifying things a little bit, but I see what he means. I’ve read some other reviews, and some had a problem with it. Some will find it humorous and fine, others (there’s always someone) will take offense to it. I didn’t.
- Paperback: 128 pages
- Publisher: Moody Publishers (April 1, 2009)
- Reading Level: High school and up
[Special thanks to Janis at Moody Publishers for sending me this book for review! I was not obligated to provide a positive review in exchange for this book.]