Wednesday, November 7, 2007

When I grow up

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” A young seminary student (compared to my ‘old’) asked me this question about 12 years ago. It was his polite attempt at finding out why I, a grandmother, was in the seminary.

He brought back the memory of a high school teacher who suggested that I consider my goals. I could be a person who “knew a little bit about everything, and not much about one thing” or “an expert in one thing and didn’t know much about everything else.”

My interest is easily moved from this to that, likely a symptom of some attention-deficit issues. Most people would not see me as someone who struggles with a focus or staying on track, but I do. I still don’t know what I want to be when (or if) I grow up.

Maybe I’m too old to consider this question, and Titus 2:11-13 tell me that worrying about it might be a waste of time. It says, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men (meaning humanity), teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

No career mentioned. No life goals or directions about exactly what to do, no specifics about jobs. Instead this passage, and others like it, talks about who I am, how I behave, the avoidance of sin and lawlessness, and having godly attitudes. The Bible seems to leave the choice of what I should do up to me, and says God is far more concerned with how I do it.

I go through this struggle periodically, particularly when I’m bogged down by too much on my to-do list and at the same time tempted by some new venture. I know I cannot add without subtracting, and the older I get, the more I realize that I need to subtract just a little more than I add. To make matters more complicated, I’ve never found a really good criterion to tell me how to do the math. How do I know if I should start something new, or what items can safely go before adding anything else?

John MacArthur
preached a sermon in the early ‘80's about choices like this. He said that there are a few things that are clearly the will of God. They include such things as salvation, sanctification, saying thanks, even suffering for Jesus’ sake, and he gave the Scripture to support each point. Then he said if a person is doing all of them, they are free to follow the desires of their heart. He used Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.

This verse could be misinterpreted if the first phrase is skipped. God is not about to give me whatever I want. The idea is that if I find my pleasure in Him, what I want will be the same things He wants for me. That is, the desires in my heart are desires He gives me.

I’ve been pondering this. Can I evaluate my to-do list by the desires of my heart? God is my delight. Nothing else much matters. Does that mean I can do whatever I feel like doing and God will bless it?

The next verses say, “Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light and your justice as the noonday.

If I put all this together, God seems to indicate that I can do what my heart wants as long as I give it my spiritual best—good attitude, integrity, quality workmanship and so on. Then as I am doing it, He will make it work out so Christlike qualities will show up and Jesus will be glorified. So, through the fog of this, I’m beginning to see that what I do isn’t about me anyway. It is about whatever will glorify the Lord.

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