God, our God! God the one and only!
Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that’s in you, love him with all you’ve got!
Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 Msg
What does life mean?
If you look at the world, there’s a preponderance of resources aimed at answering just that question. Advertisers tell us it means their latest products; television tells us it means their latest content; the news assures us it knows all about it; spirituality claims it is in this book, or that class, or that that teacher really knows all about it.
For Christians the question we ask ourselves becomes a little different. It changes from What does my life mean? to What is God’s will for my life? What am I supposed to be doing with this life in Christ? And it’s not that we expect God to answer this particular question via prophetic dream, but I don’t think we’d exactly complain if he did! If you’re like me, it’s a question that drives you nuts – one that puts a question mark behind everything that happens in your life, both good and bad. Why? When? For goodness’ sake, how?
It sometimes feels like God’s not particularly stoked to give an answer. Or at least not one that’s easy to understand. We expect a WhatsApp. Short, to the point, maybe a smiley emoticon. Instead we’ve been given this book. It’s a long book. Often strange. It takes the scenic route through thousands of years of history, myth, legend, miracle, praise, prophesy, wars, destruction, renewal, letters. And we read this book – we do – but I still think we’re hoping our mobiles will buzz in our pockets, with that answer we’re looking for hiding under the “Notifications” tab.
Since the start of the year my women’s small group has been working through a very informative, very intense Bible study series on James (as presented by Jen Wilkin. Both the workbook and the weekly audio are available for free download and I recommend it highly). At the start of this series she made a very interesting distinction that I think applies to this question we’re asking. Instead of approaching her study with a “What does the Bible say to or about me?” attitude, we needed to ask: “What does the Bible say about God?” Little wonder we’ve been struggling to get an answer out of God about his will for our lives – we’ve been asking the wrong question! Kind of like in Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide series. Remember that? They go to all this trouble to find out what the meaning to the universe, life and everything is – and it ends up being “42”. They then need to work out the question.
Well, that’s us. We haven’t had a real shot at the answer because our question is all wrong! The focus of our question is wrong. I think the better question to ask here is, What is God’s will? Period, finish, klaar. We’ll be looking at this over the next two weeks. For this series I’ve drawn inspiration from Week 9 of Jen Wilkin’s James Bible study. Again, if you’re looking for a good, thorough Bible study, try hers out.
Let’s pray (we’ll be praying this particular prayer throughout):
“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.”
 With many apologies to Mr Adams, who was an atheist.