Because we don’t want to get this one life wrong, Christians ask a lot of questions about God’s will. More than any other time in history of Christianity, this is a popular topic. There was a time that if you grew up in a town as the son of a fisherman, you became a fisherman who lived in that town and married a woman from that town. When you moved into a house in that town, you never discussed all the options for the kitchen counters.
Throughout history we are a rarity. We have so many choices now, and we (including me) enjoy that freedom. But, as psychologist Barry Schwartz has pointed out, we are likely to live with paralysis or regret because of all the choices we are confronted with We can be paralyzed by the magnitude of decisions, and we often regret the ones we make. For example, imagine you go on vacation and choose a condo on beach online from one of 30 available condos. As you walk the beach in the late evening, you will look at the 29 condos you did not select and wonder how your vacation would have been better or different if you had chosen a different place to spend a week. Instead of savoring the moment on the beach, you will notice the chairs you did not get to sit in, the view you did not choose, and the hammock that is hanging from the porch you did not select.
If we believe that God’s plans are best for us, we want His plans. And some of us have believed, or been taught, that those plans are very specific. And it is up to us to find them because even though we believe God is a loving and perfect Father, for some reason, He likes playing “hide and go seek” with His will and our lives.
How some have viewed God’s will is a burdensome way to live. Some have imagined that if we make one wrong choice we will be forever doomed to living outside His perfect and wonderful plan for our life.
I just finished reading Decision-Making and the Will of God by Garry Friesen. It is a very helpful book, and the most impactful section for me came from Garry’s articulation of Genesis 2.
The Lord God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden to work it and watch over it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die” (Genesis 2:15-17).
God’s desire was for Adam and Eve to not eat from one tree, but there was a lot of freedom beyond that. God did not say, “On Monday and Wednesday mornings you eat from the apple tree and on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, you eat from the avocado tree but only during odd months.” God gave them a lot of freedom if they were willing to follow what He revealed as His desire for them. He enjoyed watching them and handed responsibility to them. God was not indifferent to Adam and Eve’s choices but was equally pleased if they chose an avocado or an apple.
Follow what God has revealed to you and “you are free to eat from any tree.” Or as Augustine famously said, “Love God and do what you please.”