Wednesday, March 24, 2010

the big man in the sky

I watched a movie a couple months ago called “The Invention of Lying”. The movie stars funny (but awkward) man Ricky Gervais and girl-next-door-beauty Jennifer Garner (who was the star of the best show ever made, before this dufus got her pregnant and ruined the series). While the first five minutes of the movie were fairly crass (parental/high standards warning), the rest of the movie was entertaining. This movie at its outset was promoted as a comedy – and it is – but I realized as I was watching it that underneath the surface there were ideas more profound than a simple punch line. I saw more than one of these threads as the movie played out, but there is one specific moment that absolutely struck me with its poignancy. It happened right near the end of the movie (don’t worry, I won’t give away the ending); and it’s actually taken me this long to figure out how to write about it.

Our main character (played by Jen) is about to make a big, life altering decision. In her face you see the distress she’s feeling as she tries to decide between option A and option B. Ricky’s character simply stands there and asks her, “What do you want?...what do you want?” The pressure builds until finally she is yelling in painful desperation, “Tell me what the big man in the sky wants! Tell me, what does he want?” This line pierced me, as I saw played out before me the learned nature of so many: the inability to make decisions because we are waiting for the “big man in the sky” to come along and tell us where our feet should go.

I can’t and won’t assume that everybody reading this believes that there is a God. However (and if you haven’t guessed it already), I definitely do. I’ve researched other options and I tell ya, nothing makes sense to me without Him; not flowers, not the complexity of the human body, not the tidal pull of the ocean. (side note: Check out Rob Bell's "Everything is Spiritual" dvd, it will blow your mind). For those who believe in God, a major train of thought is often, “what does he want? What is His will for my life?” Fair question. But like any character in any plot line, eventually: we have to make a decision.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about will: ours vs God’s, God’s will on its own, and how we know if we’re doing what “God wants” (also phrased “what is my calling?”). Sometimes (and we’ve all got stories to prove it), God says to a person “Go to this place specifically”, or “do this specific thing”. This is a very real part of active belief: at times, I may be asked to do something far beyond the reaches of my comfort zone, or I may simply be asked to do some very specific job/vocation/"calling". I can’t settle, however, on the idea that God always spells the words out for us so clearly. Couldn’t it be said that sometimes, God’s will is a little less geographically specific? What I mean is this: regardless of where we are or who is around us, could it be that His “will” for me is simply that I love Him with my life?

This “will” is unchanging and is required of me in my day to day actions and thoughts, regardless of where I am. This is my specific calling. His will for me is to honour him with my decisions, regardless of what those decisions may be. Am I honouring him? Then I am in His will. His will for me is to trust him, no matter how much of a mess I seem to be in. His will for me is most certainly to listen intently for his voice – but his will for me is also to use my will and decision making power; he gave me a brain and reasoning skills, and I am pretty sure he expects me to use them. I know his will for me is not to live in guilt for past mistakes. His will for me is not to hurt other people, deny them grace, or envy what they’ve got. I know He wants me to learn how to give; and how to receive.

I know that sometimes, His Calling on my life will cause me short term pain; but sometimes, I need to be stretched or broken or humbled in order to grow. Sometimes, He doesn’t take me on the short route to get somewhere: like the Israelites and the Promised Land, he took them on a meandering path through a desert for 40 years instead of on the short straight road that led between the two cities. Who am I to demand that my life should always consist of short, direct pathways? I was never promised this. I was not promised only green pastures, but valleys, too. I believe that sometimes, His leading will feel like I am walking right up to my Death and asking for more – but isn’t this what we are called to do anyway, to lay down our lives? To die to ourselves? I no longer need to assume that I have sidestepped His will for me because I’ve got an obstacle in my path; instead of turning around when I come up to a wall, why don’t I ask for help in climbing over it?

So this is His will for me, and I no longer need to fret about decision A or B on His behalf. Most of these kinds of decisions (“here or there God, this or that?”) are merely distractions from the actual heart of the matter. They are not bad things; they are not to be avoided. They should be embraced, but with the knowledge that in doing so, in taking action, in walking forward, His will for me hasn’t changed one bit. Of course I still listen to His voice in my life and in my decision making. But I also need to remember that he can use me wherever I am. And He will, if only I too, am willing.

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