Thank you so much to all the people that took the time to read my blog the other day on bucking The Bible Belt. It did exactly what I hoped it would, it created conversation amongst people that differed and disagreed on my premise of as a Christian living somewhere where there are less Christians. My faith was called into question only once, I consider that a win.
One of the recurring sentiments that was made was “You need to live where you feel called.”
Fair enough. That is par for the course language used in decision making amongst Christians. How did I know I was called to be in ministry? How did I know I was called to marry Sarah? How did I know I was called to move to the Bronx? Quite frankly, I can’t describe it but whatever it is, I would not devalue it into something as fleeting as a feeling.
Decision making and walking in the Will of God has always been a curious idea to me. In college, I thought every time I sinned, I fell of the tightrope of God’s Will and had to work my way back up. Needless to say, I had a pretty small view of God’s grace. I remember expressing this a friend of mine who told me this illustration I still remember and hold onto today.
“God’s will is not like a tightrope but a canyon. On a tightrope, one slip and you’re done. Forget it, you’re on the floor, injured and you have to work your way back onto the tightrope and all your work so far is lost forever. In a canyon, one slip and you keep moving forward. Not only that but a canyon has many paths, and all are within that canyon. Just don’t exit the canyon.”
I was amazed. Did he meant to imply that I could walk in this canyon of God’s grace and will, and that there are different routes? Different trails? And they’re all OK? I was so liberated. I was finally set free from my small view of God and His plan and will. I traded in my tiny tightrope for a breathtaking canyon.
What I came to accept is this reality: After salvation, the greatest gift God gives is the freedom to choose! Choose if you’ll get married or not, choose if you’ll live in the city or country, choose if you’ll be in vocational ministry or not. You can choose. You can even choose to walk outside of God’s will, thus leaving the canyon. I don’t ever want to leave the canyon, I just don’t feel called to it. (See what I did there.)
To conclude, my favorite poem. I have it printed out and hung in my office:
“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”
“Thoughts in Solitude” Thomas Merton