We weren’t clearly “called” to Africa. That I know of.
Maybe God will correct my thinking in the future. But there my husband and I were in Little Rock, with four little kids (youngest two and a half), contemplating whether or not to, you know, sell 70% of our stuff and wheel our bags to a continent I was sure was just buzzing with malaria and typhoid. I say that—but honestly, I was thrilled. Africa is a dream come true, one I’d put on the shelf in the “maybe God will explain why” category of my mental Dewey decimal system. And as we discussed it, I don’t think I’ll forget what my husband said one night.
“I don’t know that this is a ‘obey or disobey’ kind of thing.” You know. Like I don’t think we’ll get eaten by some form of fish if we stay here in North America. He continued: “I think God is giving us a choice on this one. I think it’s more like an alabaster box. It would just be a beautiful act of worship to Him.”
(Man. Love that guy.)
The thought has stuck with me. I must confess I’m not the kind of person who’s ever heard an audible voice from God. Do I feel like I know His voice? Well, yes, I do. That’s not to say that I, being 100% human and flawed, don’t get that Voice all jumbled up with the attitudes and “shoulds” so artfully cloaked by my subtly conniving, still-in-process heart.
Sometimes? I get it wrong.
Speaking as a Christian, I know we sometimes get frustrated by ambiguity and all the things we don’t know; all the things God doesn’t tell us. We’ll obey! We promise! We just want to know what He wants us to do.
But what I like about my husband’s “alabaster box” is the beauty of the creative choices He gives us. I don’t have any “God told me” to offer questioning friends (although truthfully I realize those words can be a bit of a conversation killer…the ultimate Christian Rubber Stamp. Who wants to offer pushback to, well, God?).
Honestly, sometimes I feel the temptation to add clarity for God…out of my own fear or lack of comfort. But I find Peter Scazzero’s cautionary words poignant as I steer away from waiting, struggling, or utilizing the choices God’s joyfully given me:
I, like Abraham, had birthed many ‘Ishmaels’ in my attempt to help God’s plan move forward more efficiently.[i]
I appreciated a sermon by Francis Chan where he acknowledged that he was only about 70% confident of what God wanted him to do in a major decision he’d described, and about 90% in marrying his wife. Instead, he talks about what he dubs “prinking”—praying and thinking about what the mind of God would be on this.
This well-stated post actually quoted an intriguing encounter with Mother Theresa, who when someone asked her to pray for clarity for himself, stated,
I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God.
Some of our decisions, I think, are just the option to love elaborately.
What’s your alabaster box?
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[i] Scazzero, Peter. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: Unleash a Revolution in Your Life in Christ. p. 51. Kindle Edition.