By Joel A. Hess –
Time and time again, I have had the privilege of advising my beautiful flock on determining God’s will in their lives. With great sincerity, they ask me how to decipher which college God wants them to attend, which career or job they should pursue, and even which person God wants them to marry!
It is definitely a privilege to have God’s people look to me for advice. I welcome it and take it seriously. However, my usual answer is: God doesn’t care! It does not matter whether you attend Michigan State University or Concordia Selma. He is not hoping that you become a veterinarian instead of a cake decorator, nor does He lose sleep at night because you are going to marry Billy and not wait for prince charming. Well, okay, He doesn’t want you to marry a non-Christian or a jerk.
Yes, God cares. I’m using hyperbole. But just because He cares does not mean He will give you some clear sign that your choice is divine. Also, He probably does not sit up at night looking over your life as in the board game, hoping you make the right decisions. He doesn’t palm His face and throw a shoe at the TV when you apply for medical school instead of law school. You are not going to mess up God’s plan! Also, He isn’t a jerk playing games with you, sending riddles and ambiguous signs hoping you catch on. Do you really think that the fact that a leaf fell while you were contemplating whether you should move to Arkansas is a sign from the Lord Almighty, maker of heaven and earth?
So often we treat the one true God as a voodoo priestess when it comes to deciphering His will for us. His will for us is perfectly clear! Love God; Love your neighbor as yourself! You can do that whether you are president of the United States or chief griller at Hardees. God gave you a brain. Use it! When it comes to those big decisions of house buying, job applying, etc., give the Lord a prayer and then make a decision as you see fit. This may mean using His general guidelines. For example, it is not God’s will that you become a prostitute. I don’t need a “sign” for that. God’s Word makes it clear (also common sense). The same is true for whom you should marry. Is he a Christian? Does he treat you as a child of God?
Amazingly, pastors do not do well following their own advice. I am guilty all the same. Over the years, I have received a number of calls to other congregations. Every time, I throw everything out the window and start praying to the Sun God, casting goat intestines, and reading tea leaves, looking for signs like Benny Hinn. I have seen others do this, too.
My good friend Scott Keith pointed this out to me a little while ago when he said something like, “For some reason, Lutherans become charismatics when it comes to the call.” We throw all our theology out the window and start looking for water with a divining rod. I really messed up some calls doing just that. Instead, we pastors should follow the advice we give our parishioners. Pray and use your brain. It will be okay! Both churches need a pastor. There is no perfect fit or match made in heaven! Are you kidding? You are not going to mess up God’s plan for His Church! It actually isn’t that big of a deal! Just go and preach the Gospel wherever you are. Christ is the only perfect fit and match made in heaven. He will take care of His bride just fine. And guess what—He will take care of you, too!