Search This Blog

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Following God

It's maybe the one part of the Christian life that I like the least. It's always nice to read my Bible and see how God says to live, learn God's standards for everything, and even become acutely familiar with the character and nature of God. But then it always comes back to me. I have to make practical application of Biblical principles in my own life.

On the surface, making practical application of Biblical principles might not seem like such an onerous task. Or maybe it is. It's not that I have trouble figuring out what to do with things like, "Thou shall not steal." Those are the easy ones. But take it down another level or two and try to figure out which company God wants me to send a resume to. Or how should I invest my IRA retirement funds? Which vehicle does God want me to buy? And when should I even be shopping for a new vehicle? Do I wait until the old one doesn't run any more?

It seems like we can walk a fine line between obedience and self-deception. I could, for instance, conclude that God wants to bless me with a nice new car. And that could be true. Or maybe it's not. It could be my selfishness deceiving me. I mean I can rationalize and justify nearly anything. Which diet does God want me to go on? Does God want me to diet at all? Is it okay to spend $180 per month on a health club when there are starving people in the world? Is cable TV an extravagant indulgence?

I had to roll over a 401K plan (retirement fund for those of you outside the U.S.) into a self-directed IRA (retirement fund) recently. When I met with the financial advisor at Fidelity, she asked me when I plan to retire. Honestly, I didn't have an answer. I simply don't know. I guess I'll retire whenever God says so. I don't find retirement in the Bible. So my assumption is that the modern day concept of retirement is not Biblical.

I expect to work until I drop dead, or at least until I can't work any more. But that doesn't mean I'll always work for pay. I would very much, for example, like to work for my church full time. But realizing that my church won't hire me and pay me, I assume I'd have to win the lottery or come up with my own funding some other way. Would that be Biblical? How would God feel about that? If I didn't need a salary to pay my bills and could devote myself to working at my church full time --- would I be doing so with God-honoring motives? Or would I be selfishly trying to magnify myself?

These are the questions that get harder to answer. There are rare times when I've prayed and asked God to "give me a sign." Maybe you've prayed a prayer like yourself. Did He? Did God give you a sign? If He did, when did you recognize that it was a sign from God?

Not long ago, I felt conflicted about some thinking in my career. Admittedly, I see myself as a proverbial tent maker - who just does secular work to fund ministry endeavors. So when changes appear on the horizon, I start praying for wisdom and discernment. This particular time, I asked God to give me a sign to affirm the answer I thought He was giving me in prayer. But now I find I'm seeing things that look and feel like signs from God. Unfortunately, I'm back in prayer to the Lord. "God, is this one of those signs I asked you for? Is that how you intended this, Lord?"

How can mankind be so dull or dense as to ask God for a sign and then wrestle with whether the signs are actually signs at all? Such is the dilemma of this piece of mankind that I see in the mirror. I'm reminded of King Solomon, who asked God for wisdom and became the wisest man to ever live. Did he ever have conflicted thoughts about whether he was operating inside of God's will?

You know, the older I get the more I realize that following God requires a uniquely intense focus. He's pretty easy to follow in the big things (i.e., "Thou shall not kill."). In the smaller things though, it seems that my mind wants to play God. My core competency of manipulation and control wants to kick in and direct my foot steps.

So my prayer is simply this, "Lord, let me not be deceived about who it is that I'm following. My heart and soul are yours and it is my intent to walk directly behind you wherever you go. Help me to discern that path. Lead me with a cloud by day and with fire by night. Let me not waste time trying to figure out where you're going or whether it's even you that I'm following. For when this prayer is answered, then I'll know that I've truly arrived. And I pray these things in Jesus' name. Amen."

No comments:

Post a Comment