Just Do Something

Trusting God’s providence is a formula not for passivity but for freedom.

Many people assume that God’s will for our lives is something we must “discover” and can miss if we make the wrong “choice.” But since they have no way of really knowing what God’s will is in their specific case, they are paralyzed, not knowing what they should do, and so they do nothing at all.

 

After I spoke at a Christian college about the doctrine of vocation, a student came up and asked if I could give him some guidance. He came to the school thinking that he wanted to be a pastor, but then he felt drawn to becoming a teacher. “How do I know what the Lord wants me to do?” he asked.

I gave him some advice about discerning his talents, but then he asked a question that revealed the underlying issue: “What if I make the wrong choice?” What if I decide to be a teacher, but God really wanted me to be a pastor? Or what if I decide to be a pastor, but God didn’t really want me to be one? How could I teach or preach if in doing so I might be outside of God’s will? And how could I possibly know either way?

And then the answer came to me. “You can’t make the wrong choice,” I told him. If you decide to go to into the ministry—and, importantly, since vocations come to us from outside ourselves, if you finish seminary and receive a call from a congregation—you can be sure that God has placed you in that pulpit. If you decide to go into teaching and a school hires you, then you can be sure that God has placed you in that classroom. God may even place you in the classroom now and then later call you into the ministry.

Many people assume that God’s will for our lives is something we must “discover” and can miss if we make the wrong “choice.” But since they have no way of really knowing what God’s will is in their specific case, they are paralyzed, not knowing what they should do, and so they do nothing at all.

Reformation Christians know that reducing everything to our “choice” is overrated. Yes, we make choices, but for Christians, whose trust is in the Lord who governs the universe, neither our salvation nor the course of our lives is “on us.”