Monday, September 29, 2008

it was the best of times, it was the worst of times

God's will is a sticky subject. it's so easy to sit in towers of ivory with intellectualized theories about how God leads His people. i confess that i have done that. at different times in my life, i have had drastically different thoughts about this subject. at times i have thought God has it all mapped out for us. other times have led me to believe that God doesn't really have a preference as to exactly what we do and where we do it, as long as we fit within the general framework He gave us in scripture. other times, i have had nothing intelligent to say about it, cause i had no idea what to think.

i am a big proponent of the idea that we too often allow our experience to shape our interpretations of scripture and our view of God. i suppose it is only natural. it is difficult to see beyond the tangible to the 'other.' for example, many think that if life circumstances are bad, God must be unloving, uncaring or unable to fix things. if life is good for people, God is loving, caring and powerful enough to bless his people. or, when times are bad, God is still loving, caring and powerful, but must be trying to teach us something through our trials. but the issue with this mode of operation is that, just like job, we are not privy to what goes on 'behind the scenes.' thus, our ideas of what God's will could be are only, at best, educated guesses.

i say this not to downplay seeking God's will in the least. i believe we must always pray to that end. i believe we should constantly search for God's leadings and urgings in our lives. i believe thinking about God's will is a good thing, but i also think life experience removes us from the ivory tower and forces us to not just think about the hypothetical, but put our beliefs into practice. but what do we do when nothing seems to jump out as God's path? do we follow the poetic words of frost and take the road less travelled by? do we throw out the fleece like gideon did? do we roll dice or play paper rock scissors? do we seek and follow wise counsel of Godly people? do we just step out and believe God will bless whatever choice we make?

all of this has become so pertinent to me because it is exactly where i am right now. i don't often write about specific things in my life, but i feel like i need to, so here it goes. as of october 1, i have no job. my time as a full time employee of rochester college has come to an end. the full time ministry job i thought i had lined up is not looking so sure anymore. so now i am very unsure. this is different from a few months ago. this summer, the church job seemed like a lock. i was basically told it was a lock, but then things changed. in the midst of my conversations with the church, i found out my job at the college had been cut from the budget. however, i viewed this as a confirmation that the nearly done deal church job was where God wanted me to be. now i am facing unemployment and have no job to step into. so i feel as though someone has found the cosmic remote and hit pause. i don't know what to do- should i collect unemployment or get a job in a grocery store? should i look into other ministry jobs and schedule interviews? and the ultimate question i have is where is God in all of this? is it His will that this is happening, or is satan trying to thwart God's plan by placing doubts in what i thought was a sure situation? don't misinterpret me- i have no doubt whatsoever that God is right here in the middle of this. but my desire is to look behind the curtain. i want to see God pulling levers and pushing buttons like the wizard of oz. i want to be able to read the narrator's commentary on my life and eavesdrop on God and satan chatting, just as i get to when i read job.

but that is what faith is about, isn't it? pushing on even when we have no explanation or see no obvious path. people can call religion 'the opiate of the masses' or foolish or whatever they want. to a degree i would agree that 'religion' is a less than desirable thing. but i don't want to be a religious person. i want to be a person of faith. i want to be a person who follows God, not just shows up to a building and consumes crackers and grape juice. i want my life to reflect what i believe- that God is faithful to His people and loves His creation enough to be a part of our lives. i just pray that when i look back at this chapter in my life, i will see how God's poetic story was being written in my life. i pray that i will have chosen the path less travelled by- the path of faith.