A Generous Grace

ideas on practical spirituality and loving each other

God’s Will…and the Clarity I Don’t Have


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?


Like this post? You might also like

Not the way I saw it going in my head: On Second-guessing Decisions

God as a Good-Luck Charm (Or, where was God when I totally failed?)

Don’t Waste the Waiting

When God answers prayer* (*…and then you regret it)


[i] Scazzero, Peter. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: Unleash a Revolution in Your Life in Christ. p. 51. Kindle Edition.

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  1. I love this! It’s no accident that I came across your blog as I’m wrestling with God on a major life change. Some people really want to pin you down on a “calling.” And I get it. You don’t want to make a huge life change and realize two years in that you’re not anchored to anything, so you give up. But more than being anchored to a calling, I want to be anchored to Jesus. Was I called to marry my wife? I don’t know, but now that I am married to her, my relationship with Jesus dictates my choices and actions as a husband (when I yield to him and don’t selfishly demand my way). There are principles we must follow as disciples, but I think there is a lot of wiggle room in the details. He made us creatures with free will, so love would have meaning. We learn how to dance with the holy spirit – he leads, but when we’re in step with one another, it looks like we’re moving at the same time.

    • Thanks for hearing my heart on these posts, Phil. I find all these thoughts a little counter-cultural at times, which causes me no small degree of trepidation, but I am amazed at the ways I use emotions to finagle what I “hear” God saying, longing for that rubber stamp from Him. “Calling” is an intriguing word, isn’t it?! It’s funny that you mention marriage and how we anchor ourselves to God rather than our choice (love the way you put that!), because I specifically have thought about that one, too (http://www.marriagerevolution.org/did-you-marry-the-wrong-person/). My husband is the one who’s actually gotten me to think differently about the beauty of the choices God gives us. Sounds like you’re in a challenging season. May God give you incredible wisdom and discernment as you choose and seek to bind yourself to Him. Thanks for these words today.

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