Grand Christian movements will rise and fall. Grand campaigns will be mounted and grand coalitions assembled. But all together such coordinated efforts will never match the influence of untold numbers of followers of Christ living out their callings faithfully across the vastness and complexity of modern society. ~Os Guiness
I’ve always been one to have goals. I thrive on the New Year, there’s no doubt about it.
I’ve read 3 books already this year and I have written out plans and schemes like there’s no tomorrow. But, I’ve never been much for grand, sweeping movements— in culture or in Christianity. They seem to come and go, and as much as I want a purpose driven life or my best life now or whatever the prevailing movement is of our day, I prefer the small. Always have.
Not there’s anything inherently wrong with coalitions or movements or gatherings, but I think we tend to value the big, because we have often forgotten the value of the small. Part of the problem may be our misguided view of God’s will. Baking blueberry scones seems like a paltry offering to the God of the universe. But then, the family needs breakfast, so I find myself torn. Am I wasting my time and talent on breakfast? Wasn’t I created for so much more?
I’ve always been tortured by the words GOD’S WILL , for as long as I can remember. Just typing them now gives me a lump in my throat. I’ve always kept a journal and if not for a certain house fire, many of my entries would show that I’ve had ALL THE ANGST about ALL THE THINGS related to finding God’s will for my life.
It seemed like my life was a series of Where’s Waldo for the young, seeking Christian—only it was called Where’s God’s Will and why can I never seem to find it?!?! Not only did I need to find God’s will, but I needed to discern it, somehow know it, locate the center of it, and if at all possible, follow it. Whatever else I did, I surely could not afford to miss it.
Missing it was my worst fear, because then that would set off a series of catastrophic misses that might result in buying the wrong house, having the wrong kids, marrying the wrong spouse, taking the wrong job, or doing the wrong whathaveyou.
I remember being in my first year of college and hearing a message on KNOWING THE WILL OF GOD. Some memories are in bold and that sermon was one of them. The pastor’s voice was strong and harsh—reverberating and echoing in my head for months to come. I wrote down everything he said and tried to make sense of the mystical gibberish. It scared the heebeejeebees out of me, I’ve got no lies to tell.
I was always second guessing EVERYthing in my life, because I wasn’t sure if this friend, or this class, or this date was part of GOD’S WILL for my life or not. It was exhausting. I once questioned whether fuscia was part of God’s will for my life or not. Now it’s called Radiant Orchid and it’s the color of the year. It’s totally God’s will for my life, as you can tell from the photo below. I began to wish there was some kind of meter you could buy, that would turn all the more red as you closed in on something that was part of God’s will for your life. In that very mystic, shrouded view of finding God’s will, I’m sure I missed it. All the time. Guaranteed.
Then, I became Lutheran and learned about calling and vocation.
It totally transformed EVERYTHING about my life. Every. last. thing.
Here’s the short and skinny version.
God’s will is for you to be saved. He has made every provision for that salvation Himself. He has given you everything you need in Jesus’ perfect life, death, and resurrection. You don’t need to do ANYthing to please Him or find Him or discern His will. He is pleased with Jesus and sees you as one redeemed by Christ.
He has placed you in various stations in life and called you to serve your neighbor, since all of YOUR needs have already been met in Him. He has gifted you in certain ways, so that you may serve your neighbor and meet his needs. And the beautiful kicker is this—God hides Himself in your vocation, so that all the service you render to your neighbor, is sacred, because it is, in reality, GOD at work through you, meeting the needs of the neighbor.
I think you should read that again. Because you’re gonna be plagued with self-doubt today. You’re gonna wonder when your big break is coming, when you’re gonna be recognized for your gifts and abilities, when you’re gonna be able to do more than change diapers and wash clothes and bake bread and put away Christmas decorations.
Guess what? God sees your everyday, menial tasks as sacred work. You are His hands and feet at work in the world. That meal you cooked yesterday? It was for Jesus. Those ten diapers you changed? As unto the Lord. And someday, you’ll stand in heaven and say, Lord, when did I make cheeseburger soup for you? And he’ll say WHEN YOU DID IT FOR THE LEAST OF THESE. You are without a doubt, right smack dab in the middle of God’s will when you are doing all the things you do everyday to serve the people around you.
You don’t have to join a big movement. You don’t have to be part of the in crowd. You don’t have to have a big important job that everybody notices. Because the God of the universe has been pleased to use your good works to serve your neighbor.
So, how do you find God’s will for your life?
Ask yourself these two questions: Who is my neighbor (my adorable neighbors are in the photo below!) and what are his needs. Then, set about to meet those needs.
- Here’s how it looks at my house.
Who is my neighbor? Stevie. What are his needs? He needs clean scrubs tomorrow, so I better do some laundry. He also needs (and loves!) good food, so I think I’ll make him some homemade bagels and cheeseburger soup.
- Another example.
Who is my neighbor? Emme. I am called to be her mother. What are her needs? She needs to learn to clean her room, so I will motivate her and help her by teaching her how to do it. What else does she need? She needs to learn God’s word properly, so she won’t chase after the allusive will of God forever, so I’ll take her to church and to confirmation class and then I’ll teach her at home what it means to live out God’s will.
- One more?
Who is my neighbor? You are . What do you need? You need to be encouraged in your work. So, I get up early and sit down at my desk and write, hoping to encourage you.
See, how easy it is. No hokey pokey. No mysterious chasing after something that doesn’t exist. Just plain and simple—meeting your neighbor’s needs.
God’s will for your life is for your to live out your various callings in love toward your neighbor, because He has graciously met all your needs.
So, what’s my New Year’s resolution? To live joyously in my various vocations as mother, wife, teacher, writer, sister, home chef and self-proclaimed home decorator.
Everyday this year, I will ask myself—who is my neighbor and how can I meet his needs?
Gene Veith has a great book on the topic called God at Work (Redesign): Your Christian Vocation in All of Life and gives a great overview of vocation in this podcast on the spirituality of ordinary life.Pin It