Walk in the Spirit

Friday, May 14th, 2010 at 11:02 am

Notes on Francis Chan’s
Forgotten God
Chapter 6: Forget about His will for your life!

“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.”
-Francis Chan, Forgotten God, page 120

I finished my last semester of classes on Monday. I still have a thesis to write, but my classroom days (at least for my MS) are done.

It’s terrifying. This is the last step of a dozen alternate routes, contingency plans I’d prepared. Now I’m left without a plan.

What’s more, the biggest dreams of my heart seem so far out of reach. Doors have been shut and paths redirected.

Faced for the first time in my life with no plan, without even a feasible dream, I cried to my mother–“What am I supposed to do? I’m going to be done with classes. I need to get myself a job. I might need to relocate. I need to make all sorts of life decisions. But I don’t even know what I want–much less what God’s will is.”

While I’m not a fan of personal prophecy, at that moment, I would have given anything for a direct word from the Lord telling me what to do with my next five years. My mom, being a women of wisdom, didn’t attempt such counsel.

Instead, she observed: “I think you do the next thing.”

I finish my thesis. I attain my MS. After that, who knows. For now, I just focus on the next step.

It’s completely unsatisfying advice. I would have much preferred something more long-reaching and with less immediacy.

What’s God’s will for my life? I ask myself. I ask God. I start writing out the options and begging God to just check His preferences:

Married or single?

Community nutrition or clinical nutrition? (Or maybe that “Wife” and “Mom” position I want so badly?)

Midwest or coasts?

Current church or different church?

“Give me direction,” I beg.

And He has. But it’s not the kind of direction I seek. It’s more like my mom’s undramatic “You do the next thing.”

“Trust Me,” God says. “To those who are faithful in the little, I grant much,” He reminds me.

I start to wonder: Does God ever lead by giving a five-year plan? Francis Chan doesn’t seem to think so–and I’m not sure Scripture really supports the idea either.

God tells Abraham to pack up and leave–but Abraham has to be obedient, listening to God for each step along the way. God leads Israel out of Egypt–but instead of telling them their path in advance, He guides them via a cloud and a pillar of smoke. Paul is continuously redirected by the Spirit along his missionary journeys.

And even when God revealed the destination in advance, He was pretty adamant that it was to be reached using His means as an individual or nation followed His day-to-day leading. Case in point? Abraham’s promised son and Abraham and Sarah’s botched attempt to make it happen on their own.

What is God’s will for my life? To read Scripture, it would appear that His will for my life is that I walk by the Spirit daily (Gal 5:16), heeding His voice as He directs the seemingly mundane decisions of my life: the attitude I have as I work, the way I respond to an unexpected situation, the people I talk to and what I say to them throughout the day.

The Spirit’s will for my life is evident in Scripture: He desires to conform me to the image of Christ (Rom 8:29). He desires that I put to death the deeds of the flesh (Rom 8:13). He desires that I be filled with the Spirit rather than with drunkenness or dissipation (Eph 5:18). He desires that I hold fast to good doctrine (2 Tim 1:13-14). He desires that I set my mind on the things of God (Rom 8:5).

So why am I so intent on getting a five-year plan from God while paying little attention to the plan for right now that He has made perfectly clear?

Lord, forgive me for disregarding Your direction for today in pursuit of Your plan for tomorrow. Help me to live each day in step with Your Spirit.

“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
Galatians 5:25

Forgotten God here.)

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