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Friday, January 6, 2012

Why Do We Pursue a Certain Life's Direction?

While so many others are writing about new year's resolutions, I've chosen not to. Instead, today's question is this: why do I write? Or—here's a broader question that includes everyone—why do we do what we do, or why do we pursue a certain life's direction?

Because of some rare gene? Early childhood exposure? Ancestry?

Why was my father an engineer for GM? And why didn't I become an engineer like him?

The truth is, from a human perspective, none of us can explain why we go after certain pursuits other than what we heard as children: "Your mommy is really musical, so you'll probably be musical too." The Bible sheds some light on this question when it says that we're "fearfully and wonderfully made" and that this careful planning occurred long before our first breath—in fact, before anybody had any idea what time even was.

The bottom line is that God decides the type of interest we'll pursue. The Bible says, "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord." God gives us both interest and aptitude for what He wants us to do in life. It's silly of me to think I could be the next big recording artist if I can't carry a tune. If I faint at the sight of blood, I probably won't be a renowned surgeon either.

But there is something God wants me to do. Remember what the New Testament says about the church. We can't all be hands and feet or eyes or noses.

But we are some part, and that part is valuable to God.

I believe God leads us into certain interests, and usually (but not always) we gravitate toward a life's pursuit because of those interests. (Interest+aptitude=direction, right?) It is true, however, that many work a job they don't like because they have a family to support and know no other way to put food on the table. But they still have dreams, don't they? Sometimes dreams stay only dreams, but sometimes God allows those dreams to come true.

And I think those dreams—note, when they match God's dreams—are what give us a worthwhile direction in life.

For me the interest to work with words began at an early age. I had no idea why other than that perhaps my mom read a lot of books and, because of her influence, I became a lover of words and stories too. Later, being a published novelist was something I dreamed about but didn't take too seriously.

Therefore, God leads us to become the people He means us to be, whether a teacher or mechanic or banker. But does that mean we are robots? Does that mean we have no say in the matter? I don't think so. Without getting into a big discussion of Calvinism, I believe Scripture is clear that God won't drag us kicking and screaming to do something we loathe. (If we're robots, then there is no personal responsibility, but the Bible is clear that we are responsible for our actions.)

But God will give us interests that harmonize with His purposes, and somehow (in a way I don't believe anyone can fully understand this side of heaven) our free will meshes with His will. And because He created us and knows us better than anyone else ever could, He guides us along the path we're meant to take. Consider these words from Charles Spurgeon (whom I've been reading a lot lately):

It is but little that we know of Jesus compared with what he knows of us. We have but begun to study him, but he knoweth us altogether. It is a blessed circumstance that the ignorance is not on his side, for then it would be a hopeless case for us. 

But our case isn't hopeless because God knows us well enough to lead us along the right path based on the unique DNA He implanted deep within.


Nothing overly eloquent here, but this is a topic I've been mulling over lately.

What about you? What do you think about your path in life?

Do you think we follow certain interests because God decrees them? Or because they're in our genes? Do we have any say in the matter?

Do you ever feel like a robot with the control in God's hands? (I confess that I do sometimes.) Or do you think there's another way to look at it? Go ahead and chime in.

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