Review: “Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will”

15 Mar

Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God's WillJust Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will by Kevin DeYoung

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There are not many books that I would recommend every Christian to read. This is one of them. You may not agree with everything that the author says (do you agree with everything anyone says, even yourself?), but I think you will be glad to have read it. And it’s a short book so it won’t even take you very long :-)

DeYoung does a great job of helping us get rid of the notion that God has a blueprint for every single aspect of our lives, and thus also doing away with the Sword of Damacles that hangs over us if we somehow fail to discover and follow this perfectly mapped out path. I fully share his appreciation of the place of “wisdom” in decision making, as something that can be cultivated, rather than just waiting for revelation to descend from heaven.

He is a little abrasive at times, and could sound condescending, but there again mincing his words would not help to get an idea across, particularly one which goes so sharply against the tide of popular Christian thinking.

Personally, I still expect slightly more from God in terms of “guidance” than DeYoung seems prepared to concede, but as an ongoing corrective we find in our obedience and action, not a prerequisite for doing anything. (He is very strong on not sitting around waiting for God to speak – hence the book’s title.) “My sheep hear my voice” must still figure in the way we live our lives, and hearing God is an art that is worth developing. Paul’s prayer for a spirit of “wisdom and revelation” is still my own – both of these, not an either/or. But in general terms he is spot on.

One quote that sums it up:

Does God have a secret will of direction that He expects us to figure out before we do anything? And the answer is no. Yes, God has a specific plan for our lives. And yes, we can be assured that He works things for our good in Christ Jesus. And yes, looking back we will often be able to trace God’s hand in bringing us where we are. But while we are free to ask God for wisdom, He does not burden us with the task of divining His will of direction for our lives ahead of time.

The second half of that last sentence is crucial. God does have a specific plan for our lives, but it is not one that He expects us to figure out before we make a decision. I’m not saying God won’t help you make decisions (it’s called wisdom, and we’ll talk about it in chapter 8). I’m not saying God doesn’t care about your future. I’m not saying God isn’t directing your path and in control amidst the chaos of your life. I believe in providence with all my heart. What I am saying is that we should stop thinking of God’s will like a corn maze, or a tight rope, or a bull’s eye, or a choose-your-own adventure novel. […]

God is not a Magic 8-Ball we shake up and peer into whenever we have a decision to make. He is a good God who gives us brains, shows us the way of obedience, and invites us to take risks for Him. We know God has a plan for our lives. That’s wonderful. The problem is we think He’s going to tell us the wonderful plan before it unfolds. We feel like we can know —and need to know— what God wants every step of the way. But such preoccupation with finding God’s will, as well intended as the desire may be, is more folly than freedom. The better way is the biblical way: Seek first the kingdom of God, and then trust that He will take care of our needs, even before we know what they are and where we’re going.

All in all, well worth the read. Though who am I to tell you if it is God’s will that you read this book or not…

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One Response to “Review: “Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will””

  1. simoncross March 15, 2012 at 1:13 pm #

    I like this from Thomas Merton, on a similar tip:
    My Lord God,
    I have no idea where I am going,
    I do not see the road ahead of me.
    I cannot know for certain where it will end.

    Nor do I really know myself,
    And the fact that I think I am following
    your will does not mean that I am
    actually doing so.

    But I believe that the desire to please
    you does in fact please you.
    And I hope that I have that desire in all
    that I am doing.
    And I know that if I do this, you
    will lead me by the right road
    though I may know nothing about it.

    Therefore will I trust you always
    though I may seem to be lost
    and in the shadow of death, I will
    not fear, for you are ever with me
    and you will never leave me
    to face my perils alone.
    (from Thoughts in Solitude)

    Doesnt help an awful lot when making your mind up what to do though ;)

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