This past week I finished a short book that was both challenging and convicting: This Sacred Moment: Becoming Holy Right Where You Are, by Albert Haase, O.F.M.
Haase writes that “Holiness is a selfless openness and response to God’s call in the duty or need of this sacred moment for the enrichment of another. It is done in imitation of Jesus and is guided by the Spirit.” Throughout the book, he emphasizes the point that personal holiness is connected to the choices we make. Furthermore, he posits two questions that we should ask ourselves throughout our daily experiences: 1) What would Jesus do? 2) How would he do it?
The response to God’s call does not necessarily mean packing up my house and moving to the Ukraine. Although, God could certainly call me to that course of action.
The following two paragraphs resonated with me, helping me to again undo some of the erroneous thinking I was once subject to as a new believer:
“For the vast majority of my life, I understood God’s will for me as something that had already been predetermined. For example, I thought that on the day of my conception, God decided the role that I was going to play in the history of salvation. And then I assumed I was supposed to spend the early part of my life ‘picking God’s brain’ in order to figure out what God wanted me to do. I’d think, Hopefully, I correctly discerned the vocation in life God intended for me–though I won’t know if I got it right or not, of course, until the day I die and meet my Maker.
Over the years, I have gradually become uncomfortable with this understanding of God’s will. The problem is that it smacks of the pagan notion of fate: Everything is predetermined for me. My eternal happiness is not based upon my freely chosen response to the grace of God in my life but rather on whether or not I managed to correctly guess my vocation and role in God’s plan of salvation history.”
I know of people who have agonized over big and small decisions, waiting for some kind of clear signal that they should take path x or path y. In other words, looking for God’s specific will about whether to go to College X or College Y, or even to go to McDonald’s or Hardee’s for dinner after church. I’ve fallen into this trap, too. And I think a lot of Christians suffer as a result of bizarre thinking: we can easily delude ourselves looking for “signs.”
Look, I got a parking spot three slots from the front entrance–obviously God wants me to buy a new 46″ TV here at Best Buy (for ministry purposes, of course–because the Rob Bell videos for small group will look so much better on the bigger screen, and our group will grow spiritually in proportion to the TV’s screen size).
We use the “sign” lingo to spiritualize the fact that we’re going to do this, buy that, or go there, regardless, but it’d sure be nice if, for example, the traffic lights would all be green on the drive to spend a bunch of money on something we don’t really need. I’m not saying that God doesn’t (and can’t) use “signs” but only that oftentimes, we have to make decisions without a clear “leading.” Or at least that’s the case for me.
My concern needs to be about following God’s will for my life, which I would sum up as follows: 1) Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength 2) Love my neighbor as myself 3) Continually have an attitude of prayer and openness to God, looking for opportunities to demonstrate my love for Christ through service to others.
So when I go to the grocery store, I’m not going to view the sale on frozen stuffed-crust pizzas as a sign that I’m supposed to buy three of them. I already have three in the freezer.