Skip to main content

Need Directions?

A lot of my friends and acquaintances (and yeah, me too) seem to be at a point where they need some direction in their lives. We get to a certain point, and then we wonder...what next? We are faced with some choices and we hesitate because it is not clear which one will get us to the right place. And by the way, where were we going anyway? In a quest to offer some help to people in this area, I offered to speak on the topic at church one night (what was I thinking?). I had no idea what I could do or say to bring clarity in the area of guidance, so I asked God about it. The next thing I knew I was reading the story of Abram and Sarah in Genesis 12 - 25 and here are the points I came up with. Maybe you will see yourself in a few of them.

1. God gives a general invitation to be a blessing, to make something of your life. (Genesis 12:1-3)
Condition to move onto the next step: You must leave your comfort zone, you cannot rely on yourself.

2. God gives you a glimpse of the possibilities - WOW! The things ahead will totally blow your mind! (Genesis 13:14-17)
Condition to see it happen: Start to walk in it, do it, practice it, even though you have not arrived and it is not yours yet.

3. Inevitably, once you step into the arena of faith, war and discouragement and conflict arise! (Genesis 14 and 15)
Condition to stick it out and win: Fear not! Turn the other cheek. (Genesis 15:1-6)

4. Sometimes it all seems to be going awry, so we try to take things into our own hands and end up going the WRONG WAY! What if you get off track? (Genesis 16)
Condition to get back in the game: Resist the tempation to "help" God by manipulating circumstances. Repent if you get off course. It does not disqualify you.

5. Change of Identity. You stop defining yourself by who you think you are, or who others think you are, or even by your list of achievements and failures and you start to refer to yourself as the person that God sees when he looks at you. You let God rename you. (Genesis 17:5-10)
Condition: Let God mark you, even in the sensitive, private area of identity.

6. Nothing seems to change for a long time, so we lose hope. (Genesis 18:14)
Condition to get past this stage: Don't get cynical, do not lose your compassion. Is anything too hard or too wonderful for the Lord?

7. Others get the very thing God promised you! How unfair! (Genesis 20:17)
Condition: Never compare, don't get jealous, pray for blessing for others, and genuinely be happy when they get it.

8. YES! AT LAST! God does what he promised to do at the set time! (Genesis 21:1-2; Isaiah 40:31)
Condition to seeing it all come true: Wait on the Lord! Hold tight to him.

I am not saying that everything has to happen in this order, but you will probably see all of these at some point in your life. It was most encouraging for me to see how time and obstacles and wrong choices and bad attitudes and family dynamics and faith all mixed together in the life of Abraham and in the end, it was the faithfulness of God that mattered, not man's attempts at getting it right.

If He said He would do it, you can count on it.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

the songs we sing

NOTE: I am going to make some pretty strong statements below, but understand that it is my way of taking an honest, hard look at my own worship experience and practice. My desire is not to be overly critical, but to open up dialogue by questioning things I have assumed were totally fine and appropriate. In other words, I am preaching to myself. Feel free to listen in.

---------------------

When I am in a church meeting during the singing time, I sometimes find myself silent, unable to get the words past my lips. At times I just need a moment of stillness, time to listen, but other times, the words make me pause because I don't know that I can sing them honestly or with integrity. This is a good thing. We should never mindlessly or heartlessly sing songs just because everyone else is. We should care deeply about what we say in our sung, communal worship.

At their best, songs sung by the gathered body of Christ call to life what is already in us: the hope, the truth, the longing, t…

the movement of humility

We live in a context of stratification where much of society is ordered into separate layers or castes. We are identified as upper class, middle class, or lower class. Our language reflects this up/down (superior/inferior) paradigm. We want to be at the top of the heap, climb the ladder of success, break through the glass ceiling, be king of the hill. This same kind of thinking seeps into our theology. When we talk about humility, we think mostly think in terms of lowering ourselves, willfully participating in downward mobility. This type of up/down language is certainly present in biblical texts (James 4:10 is one example), but I believe that the kind of humility we see in Jesus requires that we step outside of a strictly up/down paradigm. Instead of viewing humility as getting down low or stepping down a notch on the ladder of society, perhaps it is more helpful to think in terms of proximity and movement.

Jesuit theologian, James Keenan, notes that virtues and vices are not really…

vertical theology

Much of the thinking and writing I have been doing for the past year or so, especially in academic settings, has to do with how hierarchy is embedded in our theology and ways of structuring communities. To me, that's not a g