"Where and What" or "Who"?
It is just a natural human tendency to want to know where God wants us to go and what he wants us to do. And there's nothing wrong with that really. In fact, I pray every night with my girls, "God, you show us where you want us to go and what you want us to do. Then make us brave enough to do it so we don't miss out on the big adventure you have planned for our lives." But when you think about the folks in the Bible, a lot of them knew all of that but ended up on some crazy, convoluted paths. Carrying out their tasks or arriving at their places of service often involved a grueling process. Sometimes they didn't get "there" at all -- at least not where they intended to go.
Abraham had a clear promise from God: "You will be the father of a great nation." Abraham waits for 24 years to have his first child, and then God tells him to sacrifice the boy. That was his clear mission. No speculation. God was extremely articulate: sacrifice Isaac. But Abraham never actually does what God commands him to do because God stops him at the last second.
Joseph knew he was destined to be a leader, but he ends up in a pit and then sold into slavery and then falsely imprisoned first.
David was supposed to become the King of Israel. God said so. Samuel said so. One problem: the current king was not on board with all of this and spent more than a decade trying to kill him. How was that supposed to be part of the plan?
Hosea was commanded by God to marry a hooker and take her back no matter how many times she cheated on him. I don't know anyone today who would embrace that as part of God's will for their life.
John the Baptist was Jesus' cousin. He had the special mission of being sent to prepare people for Jesus' ministry. But, while he was rotting in prison, Jesus seemed unconcerned. Eventually, he was killed because of Herod's flirty and capricious step-daughter. Anyone want to step up and volunteer for that mission?
Paul knew he was called by none other than Jesus himself to be the Apostle to the Gentiles. And then he spends the balance of his life jumping from the frying pan into the fire and back again.
We have this romantic notion that, if we could only become clear on what God's will for our lives is, then everything else will work itself out. But these people knew clearly what God wanted, and their lives were a mess!
If God's just interested in getting us in a particular place or having us do a particular thing, why all the twists and turns? Why so much drama along the way?
Why is it that just when you've finally figured out where God wants you to go and/or what he wants you to do that's when your spouse decides to leave or your kid gets really, really sick? And why don't we talk about this more?
My best guess is because who you're becoming is more important to God than where you are or what you're doing. So, he sends you to certain places and gives you specific tasks to do knowing full well that on your way to "where and what" you'll become a different "who".
Bottom line: God's will for your life is going to be mysterious, vague and disturbing. I can't explain it all, and it won't often correspond to human logic. But this is what I want to talk about for a little while. Anyone else interested?