Second Opinions and the Will of God

My brother is a surgeon and he understands the desire for second opinions.  When a procedure is complicated or the implications are far-reaching, it can be important to get another point of view.  If the second opinion confirms the first one you received, it’s also reassuring.  But when patients look for a third, fourth, or fifth opinion, he has also learned that his patients are probably looking for the opinion they want, not the opinion they need — or they don’t want to make a decision at all.

Similar problems arise in our search for the will of God.  The opinion of a friend can be an important resource in making a critical decision.  Those who know us can often see where and how God is moving in our lives more clearly than we can — especially if they love us, but they aren’t impressed with us.

But when the conversations drag on forever and the number of friends consulted begins to multiply, it is possible that we are looking for something that no one else can give us:

  • Certainty
  • Permission to choose
  • And absolution for the choices we have made

Our friends can’t choose for us.  The freedom to choose is God-given.  And the responsibility for our choices is ours.  We can’t find the will of God by taking a vote.

 

For more on the subject of finding and doing the will of God, see:

What God Wants for Your Life, Harper One, 1995.

 

About Frederick Schmidt

The Reverend Dr. Frederick W. Schmidt, Jr. holds the Rueben P. Job Chair in Spiritual Formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL, and directs the Rueben Job Institute for Spiritual Formation. He is an Episcopal Priest, spiritual director, retreat facilitator, conference leader, writer, and consulting editor at Church Publishing in New York. He is the author of numerous published articles and reviews, as well as several books: A Still Small Voice: Women, Ordination and the Church (Syracuse University Press, 1998), The Changing Face of God (Morehouse, 2000), When Suffering Persists (Morehouse, 2001), in Italian translation: Sofferenza, All ricerca di una riposta (Torino: Claudiana, 2004), What God Wants for Your Life (Harper, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Revelation (Morehouse, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Luke (Morehouse, 2009), and The Dave Test (Abingdon, 2013). He and his wife, Natalie (who is also an academic and an Episcopal priest), live in Highland Park, Illinois, with their Gordon Setter, Hilda of Whitby. They have four children and four grandchildren: Henry, Addie, Heidi, and Sophie.


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