We weren’t clearly “called” to Africa. That I know of.
I was thinking of this the other night, as friends and I gathered around steaming plates held on our laps with friends who’d just returned from a “vision trip”–hopefully helping them discern whether God was calling them to India. Unfortunately, clarity wasn’t showing up.
Maybe God will correct my thinking in the future. But there my husband and I were in Little Rock, with a bunch of little kids, contemplating whether or not to, you know, sell 70% of our stuff and wheel our bags to a continent I was sure was just buzzing with malaria and typhoid.
I say that—but honestly, I was thrilled. Africa was a dream come true, one I’d put on the shelf in the “maybe God will explain why” category of my mental Dewey decimal system. And as we discussed it, I don’t think I’ll forget what my husband said one night.
“I don’t know that this is a ‘obey or disobey’ kind of thing.” You know. As in, I don’t think we’ll get eaten by some form of fish if we stay here in North America.
He continued: “I think God is giving us a choice on this one. I think it’s more like an alabaster box. It would just be a beautiful act of worship to Him.”
(Man. Love that guy.)
The thought has stuck with me. I must confess I’m not the kind of person who’s ever heard an audible voice from God. Do I feel like I know His voice? Well, yes, I do. That’s not to say that I, being 100% human and flawed, don’t get that Voice all jumbled up with the attitudes and “shoulds” so artfully cloaked by my subtly conniving, still-in-process heart.
Sometimes? I get it wrong.
Speaking as a Christian, I know we sometimes get frustrated by ambiguity and all the things we don’t know; all the things God doesn’t tell us. We’ll obey! We promise! We just want to know what He wants us to do.
But what I like about my husband’s “alabaster box” is the beauty of the creative choices He gives us. I don’t have any “God told me” to offer questioning friends (although truthfully I realize those words can be a bit of a conversation killer…the ultimate Christian Rubber Stamp. Who wants to offer pushback to, well, God?).
Can clarity become an idol?
Honestly, sometimes I feel the temptation to add clarity for God…out of my own fear or lack of comfort. I can make clarity what I must have, what God must give me, if I am to move forward. But I find Peter Scazzero’s cautionary words poignant as I steer away from waiting, struggling, or utilizing the choices God’s joyfully given me:
I, like Abraham, had birthed many ‘Ishmaels’ in my attempt to help God’s plan move forward more efficiently.*
I appreciated a sermon by Francis Chan where he acknowledged that he was only about 70% confident of what God wanted him to do in a major decision he’d described, and about 90% in marrying his wife. Instead, he talks about what he dubs “prinking”—praying and thinking about what the mind of God would be on this.
This well-stated post actually quoted an intriguing encounter with Mother Theresa, who when someone asked her to pray for clarity for himself, stated,
I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God.
Some of our decisions, I think, are just the option to love elaborately.
What’s your alabaster box?
*Scazzero, Peter. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: Unleash a Revolution in Your Life in Christ. p. 51. Kindle Edition.