Author: Jerry Sittser
May 2014 – Ryan Stemkoski
The Will of God as a Way of Life reassures us that God’s will is not difficult to find, confusing to follow, or easy to miss. We discover that even if we make the wrong choices or head in the wrong direction all is not lost. This book helps guide us to towards the answers to common questions like if I am suffering or failing does that mean I am headed in the wrong direction? Or ho does God speak to us?
Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:
As if our present busyness is not enough, we feel pressure to accept new responsibilities, for we fear that we will miss out on something important or let someone down if we decline. Yet rarely do we consider the implications of the choices we make. Each new responsibility puts us deeper into the hole of distraction, stress, and overcommitment. Page 46.
Ironically our very productivity keeps us from hearing the voice of God and doing the will of God. Page 47
He gave up his freedom, in other words, for something more valuable to him. My sister helped, too. Every day she sent him a long letter; every day she sent him photos of his baby daughter; every day she sent him a cassette tape capturing the ordinary sounds of their household. Jack plastered the walls of his bedroom with those photos, as if to remind himself a reality of the world that seemed so far away. Page 66
Hatred poisons the soul. It obsesses about wrongs done and plots revenge. It drives out all understanding,m compassion, and forgiveness. It is ruinous to health and relationships. How is such hatred overcome? By trusting that God’s justice will prevail, whether in this life or the next. God is the ultimate judge; he has both the wisdom and the authority to settle all scores and set the world aright. But we must give him room to do it. The apostle Paul teach us how to obey the sixth command. We must learn to love and show mercy, giving God the freedom to execute justice. “Beloved,m never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ No, ‘if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirst, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads. ‘Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Page 75
Noel’s wife discovered that she had inoperable cance. She lived for three years before she died. Noel told me that he decided after her death that he would devote himself to serve and obey God right where he was, as a single father of six motherless children, no matter what the cost. He never remarried, having committed himself to a celibate life. Page 82
If he had been humble in spirit and attentive to God he would have understood he could seve God right where he was. God’s will is done in the little things of life, daily and locally. God commands us to do his will in ordinary circumstances, which is the setting where most of life is lived anyway. These circumstances are so mundane at that it is easy – but in the long run fatal – to overlook them as unworthy of our attention and energy. Page 8
Scott was too proud, however, to admit mistakes and listen to advice. For example, he refused to pack the quantity of food that advisers had suggested he would need in case of emergency. He got lost because he did not listen to the advice of his men. And he kept blaming bad weather and sickness for their problems rather than admit he had failed. He justified himself and his decisions to the very end painting himself as a hero and insisting he was the victim of forces beyond his control. Page 147
Yet the ordinary tasks we do every day are alive with the presence and power of God, if we have the eyes to see it. Page 152
I just learned that Ernest Hemingway quit writing at noon everyday, even when he was in the middle of a sentence, in order to go fishing for the afternoon. C.S. Lewis took daily walks and answered every letter he received, though he could have easily excused himself from the responsibility. Suzannah Wesley, who raised nineteen children (including John and Charles, who became the leaders of the First Great Awakening in England), spent an hour a week with each child individually. Kathleen Norris, author of Dakota and The Cloister Walk, spends imte every year in a Benedictine monastery, where she follows Benedict’s Rule. Dale Bruner, a retired Whitworth professor, reads classic literature every evening. These disciplines refresh and restore enabling those who practice them to return to their busy lives with renewed creativity, perspective, and gratitude. Page 152
He also created us with the capacity to enjoy our work, if we give ourselves to what we are doing and not simply work for what we can get, whether income, recognition, status, or power. Page 153
Thus, we must discern what is in us, recognize our limits, and allow doors to close as well as open. “The God who created us does not ask us to conform to some abstract norm for the ideal self. The God who created us asks us to honor the nature that is our birthright from God, which means both our potentials and our limits. When we fail to do , reality happens – God happens – and the way closes behind us. Page 180
A person who loves God and has some experience in finding his will is the kind we should look for. I have been blessed in having several friends of my own age who have helped me often. But I have been especially blessed through the advice of men and women older than I. They see things I don’t see. They’ve been over roads I’ve never traveled. They hav perspective I couldn’t possibly have. Page 181
Balance means establishing proper priories, choosing to do what is most important rather than what is most urgent, and organizing our lives around central commitments. Page 194
John Wesley, for example was unusually disciplined and dedicated. This eighteenth-century evangelist presided over a spiritual revolution that changed England forever. He travled over a quarter million miles on horseback and preached over forty thousand sermons to reach people for Christ. He died penniless because he gave all his money away. He was largely responsible for starting the Great Awakening in England. Yet his marriage was not happy and his friendships suffered because he was so unbalanced.
Many Christian leaders whose names are household words have accomplished great things for God but have failed as husbands or wives, fathers or mothers, and friends. They took advantage of the loyalty of their spouses, without giving much in return, neglected their children because they were too busy, and used or betrayed their friends. I have watched several famous Christian leaders at a distance and observed with great sadness the contradiction between their public ministry and their private life.
Yet no one can deny the good they have done, the vision they have brought to the church, and the success of their ministries. Balance is a principle, but it is not a law. We should strive for balance but recognize that it is not always possible. For one thing, some people do not have it in them. They all to easily hurt others and themselves for the sake of their calling. Bug God is gracious enough to bless their work anyway. Page 195
We may have too much to do and not enough time to do it, but if we strive for balance, we will create an order to our lives that reflects good priorities. Family will become more important than hobbies; friendship and service will hold careers in check; our concern for people will temper our passion for truth and vision for ministry. Good priorities will set a course for our lives and guid the choices we make along the way Page 196
What would happen, I wondered if God were obvious? I am not sure we would like the outcome. God’s undeniable presence would make faith unnecessary. We would have no choice in the matter. We would have to believe. In fact, believe is hardly the right word. God’s bright and blazing presence would overwhelm us. His ineffable glory would blind, crush, and annihilate us, sinful creatures that we are, which is hardly the goal God had in mind when he created us. Page 228
We never do know how things will work out, but we know that God will work them out. He will work them out for our redemption. We will fall in love, change jobs, bury lived ones, say good-by to children, move to faraway cities, raise cats, lose a fortune on the stock market, go to war, and end up living in Singapore. Sometimes we will choose to put God first; sometimes we will choose not to. Still, somehow God will work things out for a good, both because that is his nature and because that is his will for our lives. Page 236