Sunday, August 26, 2007

How Do I Know What God's Plan For My Life Is?

The question, "How Do I Know What God's Plan For My Life Is?", is often batted around in places of worship and Christian literature. Both contibutors to this blog as well as several other people I know or am related to have often struggled with this question. Another question often heard is How do I REALLY know if God is prompting me to a certain course of action? These are indeed legitimate questions. As atheists and critics of people of faith and religion are quick to point out- God does not seem to talk to us through burning bushes or blinding flashes of light these days. Most people raise their eyebrows and wax suspicious when someone claims that God has directly told them anything.

Without going into a lengthy treatise abouty how God interfaces with man and how one develops discernment I will say that the sermon I heard this morning gave some very practical advice on how a person can detrmine what God's plan for them might be. First let me say that I am a firm believer in freewill. I do not believe that God is like some cosmic movie director with a folding chair , a shooting script and a bullhorn who gets upset when we break character or diverge from the predetermined storyline. I do believe that God simply wants us to be who WE want to be as long as he hold Him at the center of all that we do.

With these qualifications spoken- here is the lesson outline from this morning's sermon about how one can ascertain God's plan. I understood that this outline was developed by an Instructor at Oklahoma Christian University for incoming college students struggling with this question. Its is in my estimation very practical:

1. What do I want to do?

2. What am I willing to do?

3. What needs to be done (in a Biblical perspective)

4. What do I have the capacity to do?

5. What do I have the opportunity to do?

6. What do my most spiritual friends and/or mentors think I should do?

7. Where is the convergence on these points?

Next, determine the course and GO FOR IT.


I personally think that this is very solid advice.

In my own life I find myself pointed directly toward working to reconcile Native American Indians, their worldview and life philosophy with the Father of all life, the true and ideologically undefiled teachings of the Bible and to Christ... the One , the only One that can bridge the gap between God and man and to convey to them that they DO have a seat at the table and a role to play in God's Kingdom and in culture at large.

Blessings upon thee.

Think eternally. Act spiritually.

5 comments:

D.S. Martin said...

Scott, you have unmistakably included my current faith struggle by implication (or maybe by inference on my part).
And while many people were well served by Taylor’s lesson, it did not seem to apply to me.
Molly asked me last evening “What do you think of Taylor’s lesson on ‘mid-life crises’?”
And I could not answer her for several moments.

I experienced the same “dead-air” response following worship yesterday when you mentioned to me the value of Taylor’s lesson.

Please note that I do see that Taylor’s lesson was valuable and well presented, yet, it did not help me with my personal faith struggles.
There are things in my experience that seem to bar any pragmatic application of Taylor’s information.
Furthermore, I have not made any overtures, to arbitrarily change my life’s course; on the contrary, I have told many people, yourself among them, that it is extremely unwise to make “big decisions” while in the midst of difficult emotional turmoil.

My kids are currently obsessed with the animated movie Robots. If you are familiar with the story I will be brief with my summary.

The lead character Rodney grows up at his father’s knee, always being encouraged to “follow your dream”. Through the ensuing story we learn that the father had not been so encouraged as a young bot, and therefore, he had compromised his skills and talents to utilitarian expediencies of supporting his wife and son.
The story is generally good and it is encouraging to young kids.

However, the underlying point that is taken for granted, is that people will have a clearly defined “dream” or “vision” for their service to their fellow ‘bots’, and by implication to God.
This assumption is not true for most humans; maybe it is different for Robots.

Think about this. When an engineer creates a machine or tool, the tool will reflect a clearly defined “design intent”, which will reveal for what the tool is supposed to be used.
For example, a tea or coffee cup, when found by an archeologist, is easy to discern the designed intent; the same is true for a hand saw or a ladle or spoon.

But, how does an individual human reflect the Creator’s design intent?
Any answers?

Robots is a cute movie, but our physical lives as homo-sapiens does not so easily reveal our “vision” or “dream” function.
Therefore, the overarching role, which we are to play in God’s scheme, must always be subjectively discerned, so long as God refuses to reveal specific detail to us directly, e.g. via speaking burning bushes and speaking bright lights surrounding us.

It is always the case that people look for signs of God’s personal plan for us, individually. And it is from the signs we see, that we are shaken to the core periodically, because we attempt to apply our interpretation of events to God’s eternal plan.

So here is an all too common scenario…; I have a “vision” of God’s purpose, yet the dream suddenly becomes a “nightmare” and God’s purpose, which was seen so clearly perceived just moments before, now leaves me attempting to make new order out of apparent chaos.

The bottom line is this: Humans are utterly blind to God’s specific and detailed plans for the individual selves. We are walking blindly into the future. We sometimes bump into walls of chaos, pain and confusion; and sometimes we slip comfortably down corridors of peace, pleasure and tranquility. Yet, neither the chaos nor the tranquility reveals anything about our true detailed mission as individuals.

Jesus Christ said that many details are only known by the Father (Mark 13:32). So all the conjecture about detailed “vision” of our purpose is only going to create faith struggles when a ‘wall of chaos’ jumps out of our future and smacks us squarely in the middle of our “dream”.
The scriptures tell us the beginning of the story is “Here” and the end of the story is “There”, but only this one thing matters between the “Here and There”; TRUST God the Father through the valley of the shadow of death. He will see you safely through to the other side, PERIOD

Scott, my purpose is not discernable. That is my conclusion of the matter.

Good advice is good advice, but so far as I can tell my purpose is to get a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk and to glorify Jesus to whomever I meet along the way.

God bless,
DSM

D.S. Martin said...

What I am attempting to say, is that we need not know the Father's detailed and specific will for our life.

I have not read The Purpose Driven Life by Dr. Rick Warren, so I am not commenting on his view per se. But rather, I am saying that our "Purpose" is a simple one that does not require that we find some new and innovative way to discern the will of the Father, e.g. high powered tea leaves for divining God's mind.

We can pick-up trash laying on the ground at the filling station, while we fill up our automobile, and in so doing bring high honor to Jesus. Its just that simple. Anytime we humble ourselves in service to someone else, we have fulfilled our Purpose.
Nothing here, in my opinion, requires more 'how to' Joel Olstein or Joyce Meyers or ________ _____. Study the life of Christ and His early disciples and then put into practice what you find, voilĂ  you have fulfilled God's "vision, will, and dream".
God bless,
DSM

D.S. Martin said...

Knowledge has value. But, being tempted by the desire to have knowledge of God's will & purpose for me is a trap.

I have already been snared by the devil's scheme. This trap is the same pitfall that captured the hearts of Adam & Eve. Remember that episode; the serpent tells us to partake of the fruit of knowledge and then we can be like God, by knowing His will.
Being aware of the Father's detailed plans is irrelevant, it is enough for me to know that God has given His Word to me and for me. Now I must trust.

It's not so romantic to think that God's will is for me to pick up garbage beside a gas pump.
I want to dream about having some grand and noble purpose that will set me in a spotlight of creative history, but that is simply not God's way. If I want to fulfill my mission and purpose I must set aside those carnal desires for greatness in my "vision", and instead become humble like the Lord. And by the way, this doesn't mean I have to like the plan either. Jesus Christ prayed "let this cup pass from me", which necessarily implies, that even the Son of God didn't like the Fathers plan.

God bless,
DSM

S. Starr said...

Hmmm, after re-reading your thoughts here I actually don't think you and I are saying anything too different from one another. First, let me preface by saying that I wasn't actually thinking of an inference to your own struggles. I think its just good advice for anyone.

In the original post I spoke of how I was a firm believer in freewill.

What you have aaid is this:
"Humans are utterly blind to God’s specific and detailed plans for the individual selves."

What I believe is that in every case of human life except those where God personally or through a messenger gave specific instructions to a prophet or someone like Noah... God has NO specific and detailed plans for any human. That is what I mean by freewill.

I believe that even the prophets had the option to not do God's bidding.

Concordantly with your comments.. I too believe that:
"Anytime we (glorify Christ or) humble ourselves in (Christ like)service to someone else, we have fulfilled our Purpose."

That IS what I meant by saying:
"I do not believe that God is like some cosmic movie director with a folding chair , a shooting script and a bullhorn who gets upset when we break character or diverge from the predetermined storyline. I do believe that God simply wants us to be who WE want to be as long as he hold Him at the center of all that we do."

Again, in my own mind we are in agreement. I also think this answers the question:
"But, how does an individual human reflect the Creator’s design intent? Any answers?"

Repeat of answer:
"God simply wants us to be who WE want to be as long as he hold Him at the center of all that we do."

I am thinking that people often misinterpret Bible verses like the one that says God knows the number of hairs on your head. They mistake this to mean that God is a micro- manager that has a predetermined script for every human soul. In my own journey through this life I have concluded that though God knows every one of us and knows our hearts and knows what we need- he does not micro manage our affairs. As DSM has pointed out- the one true underlying intent he has for all of us is to reveal himself through us. As the Christ demonstrated- this does not always mean a bed of roses. God is revealed through travail and pain as often as not.

I believe Proverbs the 16th Chapter has a couple of verses that play into what I am getting at here:

3 Commit to the LORD whatever you do,and your plans will succeed.

4 The LORD works out everything for his own ends— even the wicked for a day of disaster.

9 In his heart a man plans his course,but the LORD determines his steps.

etc.

S. Starr said...

Hey check out this pdf file.
I have this book for you. I was reading in it the other day and I thought of our dialog when I read pages 29 thru 40. The passages I want you to look at actually start at pg. 25 in the PDF file.

Read the file HERE.