Monday, May 3, 2010


Q: "How long do you plan to stay in Laos?"

A: "My commitment is for two years, and I'm open to staying longer if that's how the Father leads."

Recently I've been struggling with the above dialogue (that I usually have multiple times a week here)- mostly because I feel like I should be able to give a more definite answer.

At this moment though, I honestly can't give a clearer answer. It wasn't until about this point last year that the Father clearly led me to this current opportunity to teach in Laos... a lot can happen in a year's time! I have no idea what His plans are for the future. I do know His ways are higher than mine (Is. 55:8-9), He is good (1 Chron. 16:34) and that I need to be focused on seeking Him first, not on what tomorrow holds (Matt. 6:33-34).

I'm growing into a place of freedom in regards to answering this question and holding the future with open hands. It is a daily journey of trust and surrender though. One of the ways the Father has spoken to me in this area has been through some words from Francis Chan's book Forgotten God. I've read and re-read the words below (I bolded what really struck me) and trust you'll find them just as challenging and encouraging:

There are very few people in the Scriptures who received their life plan from God in advance (or even their five year plan, for that matter). Consider Abraham, who was told to pack up his family and all his possessions and start walking. He didn't know where he was going. He didn't know if he would ever be back. He didn't know any of the details we consider vital (e.g. his destination, how long the venture would take, what the costs/rewards would be, whether he'd receive a 401(k) or health insurance). God said to go and he went, and that's pretty much all he knew.

I think a lot of us need to forget about God's will for my life. God cares more about our response to His Spirit's leading today, in this moment, than about what we intend to do next year. In fact, the decisions we make next year will be profoundly affected by the degree to which we submit to the Spirit right now, in today's decisions.

It is easy to use the phrase "God's will for my life" as an excuse for inaction or even disobedience. It's much less demanding to think about God's will for your future than it is to ask Him what He wants to do in the next ten minutes. It's safer to commit to following Him someday instead of this day.

To be honest, I believe part of the desire to "know God's will for my life" is birthed in fear and results in paralysis. We are scared to make mistakes, so we fret over figuring out God's will. We wonder what living according to His will would actually look and feel like, and we are scared to find out. We forget that we were never promised a twenty-year plan of action; instead, God promises multiple times in Scripture never to leave or forsake us.

God wants us to listen to His Spirit on a daily basis, and even throughout the day, as difficult and stretching moments arise, and in the midst of the mundane. My hope is that instead of searching for "God's will for my life," each of us would learn to seek hard after "the Spirit's leading in my life today." May we learn to pray for an open and willing heart, to surrender to the Spirit's leading with that friend, child, spouse, circumstance, or decision in our lives right now.

To say that we are not called to figure out "God's will for my life" does not mean God doesn't have purposes and plan for each of our lives or that He doesn't care what we do with our lives. He does. In both the Old and New Testaments He tells us that this is true. The key is that He never promises to reveal these purposes all at once, in advance.

We do know that we are called to keep in step with the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:16, 25)...

Like I said earlier, I think dwelling on God's plan for the future often excuses us from faithful and sacrificial living now. It tends to create a safe zone of sorts, where we can sit around and have "spiritual" conversations about what God "might" have planned for our lives. Thinking, questioning, and talking can take the place of letting the Spirit affect our immediate actions in radical ways. God wants to see his children stake everything on His power and presence in their lives.


Anonymous said...

Good stuff! I want to read the book.
love you,

Sarah said...

That's awesome, Suzy. I feel like I'm still trying to learn how to give up my need to have things planned out!