Think You’re Strong Enough to Fulfill God’s Will for You? Really? Still?

I tend to think that I have all the time in the world to become the person God wants me to be–or to at the very least do the things that I have every last reason to understand God intends for me to do. The underlying reason for which I tell myself that I have all the time in the world to do what God wants me to do is because I know that what God wants me to do is going to be difficult. And I don’t like to do difficult things. I like to do easy things. So I figure I can wait to do God’s difficult things. I figure that God understands how challenging the things he’s given me to do really are–and that, what with him being such a forgiving God and all, he will certainly understand if, on any given night, I choose to watch my new Nexflix movie that just came in, rather than get up off the couch, splash a little cold water on my face to refresh myself, take a deep breath, and get busy logging in some real time doing His very real work.

It’s only one day gone by, I think, as I crawl into bed. I’ll start doing better tomorrow.

And then, of course, there’s always another tomorrow.

And then another one.

And then one more.

You know what I think? I think God filters into our hearts and minds the totality of what he wants us to do–and that, in his eminent genius, He makes it so that that load or challenge is exactly formidable enough to make us feel that if we ever really took control of our lives, we, in and of ourselves, could muster the strength and will necessary to do it.

But (as we find) we never do gain that much control of our lives; in the end, we somehow never quite muster the will and strength to kick our lives up to the next level–to the one where we actually do what, for all we know, God created us to do.

And I think the reason God does that is because eventually it forces us to either take what he wants us to do with exceedingly seriousness, or to dismiss it altogether. It’s like a little pebble in your shoe when you’re out having a wonderful time hiking: You can ignore it for a very long time, but eventually you have to flat-out decide if you’re going to finally stop what you’re doing and deal with the thing, or not.

Which, of course, never turns out to be any choice at all.

We must, finally, deal with–we must finally face–what exactly it is that God wants us to do.

And when we do that, when we take seriously the purpose or mission for us that God has all along been waiting for us to take as seriously as he does, what we find is that, in fact, we’re nowhere near capable of fulfilling that destiny on our own.

That can’t happen. It never could. We were never anywhere near that strong.

The bottom line is that if we’re ever going to become the person God wants us to become so that we might do the things God wants us to do, then we’re going to have to break ourselves of our will, and learn to depend wholly upon His will.

Our lives are not about doing what God wants us to do. Our lives are about letting God use us to do what he wants to do.

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • Kim

    I agree with you wholly. It wasn't until i totally gave my life over to the Lord that He really started using me. Now with Him in charge i can feel His Leading. I am doing things and stepping out in faith like i never have before.

    kim
    http://kimolsen.wordpress.com

  • nisperos

    Man…

    Thanks for sharing… I guess…

    You mean the procrastination isn't part of God's plan?

    But he's able to use it to show us…

    Yeah, I know, I know…

    Well, this is really good stuff…

    I'll print it out and tape it to my computer screen or the bathroom mirror… If you will too ; – )

    My SIL has one on her mirror which says something like:

    On a list of things to learn from Noah:

    "Stay in shape! God might ask you to do something when you are 600 years old!"

    OK, we know God's math isn't our math, but still…

    Even if, for example, we were to divide by 10…

    That would have made Noah 600, or perhaps 60, when the flood came…

    And when Noah was 500, or perhaps 50, he became the father of Shem, Ham, and Japheth…

    So, whose to say what God can do through us…

    … if we let him have his way

  • Taryn

    Thanks for the message. It hits hard with this soon to be college-grad with a habit of procrastinating, and who still has no clue what they want to do with their life. It helps me to think that God has my life in His hands, and He's just waiting for me to accept the invitation to live my life.

  • Janet Tatum

    Hi John…how about this?

    "Jesus died to heal our HUMANITY!"

    It's the name of a class I have been teaching to Christians for the past 5 years.

    I guarantee you will write this down. Every student asks me to slow down so they can put that thought on paper. The first time you hear it taught it will challenge all your traditional christianity and at the same time it will cause you to take a big sigh of relief because it's a piece of the puzzle solved. Yes, He loves us just the way we are. Not surprised a bit where we are, where we've been or where we are going. We can rest in Him. Striving can end. Performing for God's love is not the way He plays the game. Not like traditional christianity at all. Not like traditional Pentecostal christianity either (we often think we are miles ahead of "religious" people in understanding God's love. We are not!) As an ordained minister and having served inside ministry, I had seen complete exhaustion everywhere in both lay and professional leadership. Including me. One day I cried out to God…"if this is all there is to christianity…I want out, I'm done". His response…"ok, NOW we can get started". It was the beginning of understanding… HE LOVED MY "HUMANITY". After all, He created me to be a human. Did He not? And did He not say…"What I made is Good" in Genesis? Yes, He did say that. I had to question why no matter what I achieved FOR Him…I still felt "bad" inside. Anyway…I am preaching now. I will spare you. Go to my website
    http://www.newfoundationsflorida.com

  • http://blog.360.yahoo.com/skerrib Kerri B.

    Rock on, Janet Tatum. Rock on.

  • Keith Zelesky

    I read your comments on Church Staffing and wanted to comment so I followed the link to your blog and read your piece on there as well. I appreciate your willingness to offer spiritual guidance, but could not help noticing the somewhat conflicting messages of these two articles. The one on Church Staffing I thought was "nice" but I could hardly imagine the Apostle Paul or even Jesus encouraging people to be so comfortable with the staus quo. Words like – be careful, watchout, take heed, watch how you walk, etc. are common in the New Testament suggesting whatever God's will might be, it is important we not get too comfortable. In order to ensure you are leading folks in the right direction. it may be wise to study the scriptures and encourage your readers to do what the word says, this will certainly protect against future inconsitencies.

  • http://phidave.spaces.live.com/ Dave

    WOW!

    Talk about an unexpected, yet timely word!

    I also need to print and tape this up.

    It speaks to so much of what I’m personally dealing with right now in my life, especially spiritually (which then impacts every other part of my life!). I’m once again amazed at how the Holy Spirit gently prompts and guides us (as was the case with me finding this specific blog entry this morning)!

    WOW!

    (again amazed at the timeliness and appropriateness of this message)

  • Colleen

    Thank you. You helped me realize something:

    That if God’s plan isn’t going to arrive on my doorstep, if it is already here, then it must be God’s plan for my life that I be a wife growing to love her husband, a mother trying to guide her children, struggling with worry, struggling with anger, struggling with fear. Walking in His sight and stumbling, falling, failing, getting up but always walking with Him.

    This walk is about relationship not performance.

    Every morning I ask the Lord, what should I do today? But it isn’t about telling people what to do and when and how and directing and measuring performance. It is about asking people to help with the work, and working alongside them.

    Not “Go pick berries for me” but “Come pick berries WITH me.”

    People want to be with. It is fun to be with. It is enjoyable to be with. It is satisfying to be with. It is uplifting to be with. I want to be with.

    A pastor I know, Dr. Virginia Phillips, teaches that God wants co-laborers, which I understand now to mean that God doesn’t want us to work for him, he wants us to work with him.

    So I have been waiting for God’s plan for my life to be delivered. I have been listening for a directive, “Colleen, go do this for me,” when I should be listening for an invitation, “Colleen, come do this with me, come help me with this.”

    Thank you. Suddenly the work he has invited me to seems more doable because I know he will be there with me.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Keith: I’m sorry, but I don’t know what two pieces you’re comparing. But do trust that I always base everything I write on scripture as I understand it. The problem, of course, is that scripture can be used to back up just about anything anyone wants to say about anything. Also, understand that these “articles” are just ways of expressing different aspects and reflections of and upon the multifaceted jewel of God, the divine and impenatrable mystery of the Trinity. I’m hardly here meaning to articulate doctrine; I am instead here responding spontaneously to the Holy Spirit. I read the Bible; I learn from the best Bible teacher I know; I commune with the Holy Spirit; I write. That’s … the system. I am sorry if that ends up producing work for which you have any distaste.

    Janet: Looks like you’ve got an interesting ministry going there. I certainly appreciate what it seems to be founded upon. Nice!

    Taryn: Beautifully said. Wonderful. All the absolute best to you. Graduating from college? Must you? Isn’t there some other … program you can get involved with, so as to postpone for as long as possible getting involved in the real world? See a counselor or something. Fight before you just let them drag you out here into reality! (I’m joking. Sort of.)

    Colleen: Again, beautifully put. What a thoughtful insight. Thanks for sharing it.

    Dave: Your comment here rings with honesty and a sincere desire to be open and unpretentious about your life and your relationship to God. Surely that pleases the Lord.

    Nis: Exactly! Perfect.

    Kim: Congratulations at coming into such harmony with the Lord. That’s … the whole idea! So. Wonderful.

  • Tim

    Colleen – wow! you just totally opened my newbie eyes to something IMPORTANT! ™

    Sorry John, I knwo its your space here, but I had to thank Colleen.

  • April Scott

    Thank you for the enlightment in the Article. It shed some light on how I am. Sometimes I can be in my own little world, and I know that that is the enemy shifting the attention on me, so I will be distracted and not do the will of God. I have realized the necessity for Gods guidance in my life. The Article showed me I am not, as I often put my study time off another day. Be Blessed, I will try harder. Thank you.


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