My pastor is fond of a brilliant little statement that has greatly influenced my life, whether applying it to marriage, work, parenting, or discerning the will of God in a given situation:
“Do the next right thing.”
Beautiful, isn’t it? When you start working it out, it applies in any number of ways:
– Make the apology.
– Exercise patience.
– Work hard.
– Take a nap.
– Save some money instead of spend it all.
Here’s the problem with all those outworkings, though: They’re boring. Nothing exciting about any one of those. And that intrinsic “boring-ness” rubs against a tendency in the evangelical first world right now: our preoccupation with the exciting. The human heart is indeed an idol factory, and it seems that many of our hearts are busy churning out the idol of excitement. Here’s what it looks like:
I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with my life. God is so silent. I can’t hear Him speak.
I don’t like my job. Surely God can’t want me to continue on like this.
My marriage feels stale. I need something to spice things up a little bit.
Now it’s always dangerous to make blanket statements, especially when those statements involve diagnosing the idolatry of people, so I’ll confine it to my own life and simply say this:
I bemoan the fact that I can’t hear the voice of God, that I don’t know what He wants me to do, and that if He would only speak, I would act. Translated into a more truthful version, that statement sounds like this:
I want God to want me to do something more exciting, and preferably, something that will make me very comfortable.
The truth is I know what God wants me to do. Probably so do you. But we are too busy bowing at the idol of excitement to carry out these simple, boring commands of loving our spouses, serving our church, abiding in Jesus, and violently pursuing holiness. We want to chase our dreams, take huge risks, and be proportionally rewarded.
But down deep, we know what God’s will is in vastly more situations than we don’t. So let’s start chipping away at the idol of excitement. Time for it to come down, brick by brick and stone by stone, and do the next right thing.