It may just be me, but it seems like just yesterday we were wishing one another “Happy 2007!” Yet, 12 more months are in the books, and before you finish reading this column, little fairies will have all the Valentine’s Day stuff out in your neighborhood store. That’s because time is flying by at seemingly ever-increasing speeds, a phenomenon for which I have finally found an explanation in a mathematic equation. [For those of you interested, it works like this: the reason a year appears to go by faster at 35 than it does at 5 is because when you were 5, a year was 1/5 of your life, a relatively long stretch. Yet, at 35 a year is only 1/35 of your life to date, a much smaller increment.] The bottom line: an unwritten year is before us, and at the risk of sounding like a New Year’s pontification, today is a good day to decide how we are going to live.
I’m not talking about setting crazy goals that feel grand in the moment, only to fizzle into next week’s disappointment. I’m talking about living with our Maker in the simplest and most meaningful of ways, something that can be quite daunting in a culture where walking with God has been overcomplicated by systems, knowledge and ritual. It seems finding and embracing God has become more complex than championship Sudoku on a rollercoaster. After all, nothing perplexes more than our endeavor to find God’s will for our lives. In fact, growing up it wasn’t enough to actually discover what God wanted me to do (and where). There was something even more, namely, the “center” of His will, that had to be located—as if you could be partially in God’s will while still missing out on the confidence of knowing that you were exactly where He wanted you to be.
Talk about intimidating. How do you know when you’ve found it? What if you mess up and make the wrong choice? Or worse, what if someone else gets it wrong? This third option confounded me as I wondered for hours on end what would happen if one person missed God’s plan and married the wrong person, took the wrong job, applied to the wrong school, etc. Wouldn’t their misguided decision set off a domino effect that would, in turn, wreck the decision making process of every other person trying to get it right? I mean, what if that person applied to the wrong grad school, taking the last position that I was in fact supposed to have? Wouldn’t that, by default, force me into a choice other than God’s “perfect will” for my life?
Such thinking, coupled with western society’s fascination with the five- and 10-year plan (of which I still have neither at 49), is enough to paralyze even the most astute among us. That’s not to say there aren’t many clear directives concerning God’s will in His Word, but I’m wondering if there is a simpler way.
When the Son of God invited others into His grand adventure, the proposal was not overly complex. There were no blueprints, timetables, business models, flow charts or long-range plans. Jesus’ offer was simple— follow me. Not, “go do something for me,” or “plan your life for the best success and please include me.” Just follow me. To me, that feels like more of a moment-bymoment assignment than a career plan, more about not missing the next turn than mapping out the entire journey. And, on the surface, it seems like a course that appears rife with uncertainty and irresponsibility.
But this is God’s way, the God who provided one-day supplies of food to a nation in the desert and who taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” While there may be nothing wrong with a 401-K or a 20-year plan, the Kingdom of God is a now Kingdom. Insuring our success and plenty by man-made effort runs counter to the very notion of being personally linked (think children) to the Creator and Owner of all. And He alone “gives life and breath to all things.”
I suggest that if God is who He says He is (and we boldly proclaim in our music), that we make it our ambition to stay in close contact with Him in the year ahead. Should we be graced with tomorrow, something not certain, might we say, “Lord, keep my eyes on You. Today, I am available for whatever You desire.” Is this not a simpler path, and the assurance of always being found in His will?