By Norris Burkes, Oct 9 2020
My wife, Becky, came into the kitchen last week to find me rooting through the refrigerator.
“Something wrong?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said. “God wants me to have eggs and sausage, but my doctor wants me to eat oatmeal.”
“Do you and God routinely discuss breakfast options?” she asked giving my back a patronizing pat.
I’m telling you, readers, Becky insists she’s not funny, but she is.
“No. I poured my oatmeal in the bowl only to find we are out of milk.”
She asked if I could use water instead of milk.
“Don’t you see?” I said, opening wide the cabinets. “If God wanted me to have oatmeal, we’d also have raisins and walnuts.”
Becky may make our shopping lists, but she’s no theologian.
I suppose I can’t really blame her., She probably expects more sober counsel from her chaplain husband.
God’s will for our personal lives is a much more complicated issue than our breakfast choices. That’s why I often suggest that folks ask themselves the following questions:
First – “How does my faith direct me?“
By this I mean faith principles – not just a single bible verse proving your point. I once wrote about getting a tattoo and a reader chided me with a single Bible verse he thought forbade tattoos.
“It doesn’t work that way,” I told him. “The Bible isn’t a rulebook; it’s a guidebook expressing principles.”
If the first question doesn’t illuminate your choices, then ask yourself, “What do I want to do?”
Honestly, I don’t think God will require you to do anything you don’t want to do. Since I don’t want a neck tattoo then I’m pretty sure God doesn’t want it for me.
Incidentally, I have a long list of things I know God doesn’t want me to do because they involve rhythm or math. For instance, I’m pretty certain God shut the doors to me becoming a dancer or an accountant.
It’s also good to ask yourself, “What do my friends say?”
I think God can use your friends to eliminate some obvious wrong turns. For example, in the past, my friends have advised me to not become a country-western singer. I wanted to. I even bought a cowboy hat, but my friends said no.
Fortunately, friends did help affirm my direction toward pastoring when several high school classmates complimented my speaking ability. Shortly thereafter, I enrolled at Baylor University and declared a religion major. (Becky says I became a pastor because I can’t sit still in a pew.)
A thoughtful examination of God’s will must inquire, “What roles do my addictions or desires play?”
Example – Don’t move to Las Vegas if you’re addicted to gambling or sex.
That’s not to say God can’t tame addictions. A friend of mine served as a chaplain on the Vegas strip and spent his time talking to bare-chested women backstage. He never had issues with it, but my wife advised that it wasn’t God’s calling for me.
A search for God’s will isn’t complete without asking, “How will this help others?” God’s will is always about helping people. If a divorce helps children out of an abusive home, then it might be God’s will. If divorce is about finding a more attractive mate, then it’s NOT.
Finally, my father-in-law, a serious Bible student and lifelong pastor, has always said that the most certain way you will know God’s will is when you know the misery from being out of it.
Phil Vischer, the creator of Veggie Tales and voice of Bob the Tomato echoes this thought more succinctly – “There is no happier place than the intersection of God’s will and your giftedness.”
By the way, I used water to make my oatmeal. Sometimes God directs his will through our spouses too.