Thursday, September 13, 2007

When "God's Will" isn't God's will

"The Lord is leading me to..."

"The Spirit is guiding me..."

We've all heard it. Many of us have probably even said it. God is directing us to fill-in-the-blank.

I think my personal favorite was when it was commonly used at Bible school in reference to dating. "The Lord is leading me to date you"... and subsequently, "The Lord is leading me to break up with you." Since when did God impart divine wisdom through fickle 19-year-old hormones?

My brother has a friend who had a similar situation. Wanting to marry his girlfriend, he approached her father. The father said that God told him it was not His will for her to marry him. The boyfriend responded, "Well, God told me that it is."

I do not doubt that there are times that God really does direct and lead people to do things.

I also do not doubt that such words have been uttered not at the Spirit's prompting, but instead as a manipulation tactic.

You don't like your daughter's boyfriend? Say it's not God's will.

You don't like the decision leadership has made? Claim God's leading otherwise.

You aren't happy in any given situation in life? Attribute your feelings to God, and no one will have a leg to stand on.

I mean, come on, when someone tells you that God told them to do something, what do you say to that?

I strongly believe that God is not impressed at all when people use His name to further their own agenda, and I believe that it happens more than most of us would like to admit. Not only do the church's "troublemakers" do it, volunteers do it, deacons do it, pastors do it...

And no one questions it.

It is a matter of the heart that is not only personal, but deeply spiritual.

This thought came to me this morning, as there is a small... ahem... "issue" surrounding a decision I (and others) made last spring.

This is incredibly frustrating to me. How do you know when it's God and when it's not? More so, how do I know when it's God telling you to do something?

I mean, unless asked, I do not make any attempts to tell you what God is saying to you. However, when what you claim God tells you directly impacts my life, I feel like I should have a say.

You know, there are very few people who I would without question (or at least with few questions) accept what they told me from God. Very.few.people.

But can I tell you how difficult it is to even allude to someone that I wholeheartedly believe they are hiding behind alleged spirituality to get their way?

There is, as you can probably tell, much more to this situation, as well as to my thoughts and feelings on it.

Suffice it to say that it's at times like this that I'm thankful I have the thick skin which comes with the experience of being a pastor's kid.

By the way, you'll be happy to know that the boyfriend and his young love mentioned earlier have been happily married for several years.

Guess God decided to bless after all...


Megan said...

Sara, I agree with you wholeheartedly. Jake and I have talked about this as we are often told by other people that "God spoke to me.." or "When I was praying, God whispered....". We believe that if you hear something, it could be one of three could indeed be God (although I don't know how often He audibly speaks, especially in America), it could be Satan trying to distract you from God, or it could just be yourself and a thought that came into your head. I feel like people use God as a cop-out so they can do what they want to do, whether it's in accordance with His Word or not. And it's so incredibly frustrating because once someone believes that they've heard God, how can you disprove that to them? Even with Scripture, they're not usually willing to listen because "I experienced it, not you." All this to say, I'm with you!

Anonymous said...

And her dad still refuses to visit, or even be cordial with him. Maybe God told him to hold a grudge.

Anonymous said...


This is not about this post.

It was way too long and hoity-toity for me to take my precious time to read it. Although, I'm sure it was poignant and well written.

I'm writing about your beau's latest entry. Apparently, you "found" Derek Webb's deep meaningful pontification on the Christian life and experience. What really happened, though, is that your awesome brother-in-law [who also finds the deep, philosophical content in U2 and Pearl Jam [Dirty Frank) of import] exposed you to Derek's view of the world on our "scenic" trip to Indiana which included a begrudged stop at a KFC buffet in Scrumville.

You may have imbedded the experience deep in your subconscious - or just decided to hog the glory for yourself. Either way, I'm screaming for attention and recognition!!

Do work, son!

dave - not lange

Anonymous said...

I'm confused


Sara said...

Are you confused about my post or Dave's cry for attention?

Anonymous said...

I've been there Sarah. Growing up in a Pentecosal church, I heard such comments a lot. I too grew frustrated with the claims to God's leading made by others, especially in my formidable teen years when many times they seemed to contridict each other! Which Christian leader was I to trust? Who was trully hearing from God?
I now am very careful to use such phrasing and only if it aplies to me, as in, "I feel God is challenging ME to..., or God spoke to my heart in this way." If I am in error, than it is I who have to answer to my falsness.

His Servant said...


As you stated I am sure there is much more to this than I am reading here. As I too have had similar experiences with others divine advice. I first look at the possibility of reversing the decisions I have made. If I cannot reverse my decision than it requires only evaluation for future decisions. I then evaluate my decision and pray that God will continue to guide my path.
Usually a persons advice stems from two areas - To fulfill their own agenda or - Genuine concern and care about you and trouble they feel you will face. Both can drive a wedge between each of you if you let it. If the person genuinely cares about you don't sever the relationship. Accept their advice for future reference and express your inability to change the past and your appreciation for their concern (This doesn't mean you are admitting a mistake.) - and move forward from that point.

Sara, As I re-read this I can see there are many scenarios this would not fit. Maybe this makes sense and maybe it makes no sense at all.
You are a unique person. Although facts drive your decisions those around you may make decisions based on different things.(Sometimes feelings.) Always listen to advice evaluate their position and pray that God will give you answers. Even those who constantly make irrational decisions are still loved and used by God.
Somehow I hope this helps.??

Anonymous said...

I'm confused about your original post. Obviously, there is more to it than I know. But after reading the others, this can be said. The only infallible of God's will is in the Bible. There are a few clear references to "this is God's will" in the NT; 1 Thess 4:3 comes to mind. Because the mind/conscience/belief system is affected by sin, they can't be automatically trusted. When people say, "God told me" - or something similar - it's appropriate to ask where, in the Bible, He told them. If it's not in the Bible, God did not say it. It might be true; it might be appropriate; it might even be wise and good; but if it's not in the Bible, God didn't say it. the sincerity or passion of the person who "heard" God speak has nothing to do with it.