I have been taking what I have called a BLOGCATION. A vacation from my blog if you will.
I refused to write. I refused to read any other blogs, books or newspapers. I intentionally avoided all talk shows on the radio and tried my best to avoid TV. Other than checking my email, I stayed off the computer.
It was wonderful. I recommend it to everyone. Take a “media free week” and see if it recharges the batteries in your heart and in your head like it did for me.
I guess that probably the best thing that happened to me this past few weeks or so that I was on my blogcation was that I started talking to people again. I mean really talking to people again. I have always talked to those around me but I never really engaged in a real conversation about something more than the ball game last night or the weather. It is funny how you can feel like you talk to people all the time but never really have true conversation.
One conversation that I had this past week was about God’s Will for a person’s life. Like many of us, I have been challenged by Sunday School teachers, Youth Leaders and Pastors to “find” God’s will in my life since I became a Christian at the age of 10. Over the past 30…errr… 40 years since I accepted Christ into my life, I have been taught so many things concerning the topic. God’s “perfect Will vs. His permissable Will…all kinds of “STUFF”. What I have found is that most of it was “baggage” that really hindered me and kept me back from really living a fulfilled Christian Life.
Let me explain.
I was raised in a “Fundamental Independent Baptist Church”. For those of you who read this and do not know what I mean by that statement, I will try to explain it the best I can. I was raised in a very “legalistic” environment. Which basically means that I was raised in an environment that taught a strict adherence to a list of rules (absolutes) of do’s and don’ts. Any violation of those rules in the slightest way would be evidence of “losing” my good standing with God. A short list of rules that was promoted during my time spent in this movement is as follows:
- Hair Length – Off the ears, off the collar…not in the eyes. It was a sin and a sign of rebellion to have my hair touch my ear.
- Music – Anything (I mean anything) that had a drum beat to it was unacceptable. Secular music in all forms was evil and not permissible. Contemporary Christian Music was not acceptable in any form or genre.
- Clothes – Suit preferred, shirt and tie minimum required for Church attendance. Girl’s could not wear pants at any time and dresses and skirts had to be (at least) knee-length.
- Swimming – There was no such thing as ‘mixed” swimming. Meaning , young men and women could not swim together at any time.
- Movies – You were not allowed to go to the theater…EVER.
- Education – A Christian Education was the only way. Elementary, Jr and Sr High School and College Christian education was the only acceptable way. If anyone would attend a “public” school, they were treated as if they were “not as good” as the other students that attended a “Christian” school. As far as college was concerned, any determination to go to a Non-Christian college were grounds for people to believe that you may have lost your faith.
- Baptist Only – We were taught that “Independent Baptists” were the only one’s that preached the “true” Gospel the right way. There might be other churches that led people to the Lord, but the true and most accurate way was through the Independent Baptist Church.
- The Bible – The King James Version was the ONLY version that was permissible to use. Any other version was inferior and peppered with errors.
The list could go on, but I think you get my drift.
Now, I am sure, some of you that read this are asking yourself how can anyone really believe that this way of life is the best. Trust me…there are many people who still believe these same “rules” and I know that most of these people are generally good people with good intentions. Many of those in this movement are very successful and have remained faithful to their convictions. My problem is that if you grow up in that kind of environment, it is easy to be convinced that this was the only way of life. Any deviation would mean that you failed as a believer. As an adult I completely understand their perspective and I am not writing this to say that everything they have done is wrong. What I am saying is that this lifestyle is not the only way. From my perspective these rules and regulations actually did not make me a better Christian at all. In my opinion, it actually made me a weaker Christian. The standard to live this way just always set me up for failure. I could never measure up to meet all the requirements. I could not pray enough or do enough Bible study to really “find” God’s will for my life. So instead of living a victorious Christian life…I always seemed to struggle so much at times I just gave up and did my own thing because I could never be “good” enough for God to use.
As a teenager, this elusive task of finding “God’s Will” for my life always seemed like winning the lottery or hitting a game winning hit in the bottom of the ninth…the ODDS and possibility of it ever really happening were slim-to-none. I became so focused on trying to find God’s will that I forgot to simply look for God. I was convinced that God’s will was somewhere other than Oak Harbor, Ohio. I was sure that God’s will was somewhere where I could build a big ministry. It was where I could teach thousands…it was speaking to large crowds…writing books and really “making it” as a Christian. God’s will was always something that I would have to “find”.
After 40 years of being a Christian, I have learned that most of what I was taught and most of what I once believed was wrong when it came to finding or knowing God’s will for my life.
Here is a little of what I have learned over the years…
1. Grow where you’re planted. Teach, sing, minister in nursing homes, youth groups, at church, anywhere anyone will let you. If you’re any good, they’ll ask you back. If they don’t, do something else.
2. Don’t listen to your mother. Mother’s always think you do stuff “good”.
3. What does ‘make it’ mean to a Christian? If to ‘make it’ as a Christian means getting to teach a large Sunday School class or be featured on national stages and churches, the majority don’t ‘make it’. But, that is ‘making it’ in the eyes of people. I don’t think that is ‘making it’ in the eyes of God. Do you really think God is more proud of you if you minister to thousands at a time than if you minister at a nursing home for a few? Probably just the opposite. You MUST be faithful in small things.
4. God’s will isn’t easy. It requires being content where you are at today. Be thankful for today…tomorrow will take care of itself. Trust me. If you’re fortunate, you’ll go through hard times. The hard, doubtful, scary times are what make you strong and help you to be grateful when and if the ‘big’ times show up.
5. Follow after God with your whole heart and “God’s will” for your life will take care of itself. God’s will may be something totally different than you even imagine. It is not mystical or something unattainable.
The last thing I’d like to add is to post, please don’t put so much time and effort into what you believe is God’s will, that you forsake getting to know the One who saved you. As a believer it is absolutely crucial that you be in the Word, and in it often. The Word is alive, and it is life and people changing from the inside out.
Quit looking for God’s will and look for God wherever you are at. God will give you opportunity to grow…even if that means the biggest crowd you ever minister to is a small group of people in Fremont, Ohio.
That may just be more of God’s will than you will ever know.