Like many evangelicals, I suffer from a seriously conflicted pneumatology. I absolutely believe the Holy Spirit is alive and well and capable of moving in powerful, tangible ways to direct and convict people. It’s just that I’m also rather wary of over-attributing phenomena to “divine activity.”
It’s usually a great system…until I ask God for specific guidance/wisdom/signs/help. The moment I pray that prayer my post-enlightenment parietal lobe goes to war with my mystic cortex, and life gets crazy. I become, simultaneously, a jaded cynic and an avid cloud watcher – looking for some kind of sign from God only to disbelieve anything I might ever think to actually be one.
Well, friends, I prayed that prayer.
If you follow us on Twitter (which you totally should; we do awesome, exclusive things like post links to this blog), then you maybe saw that, recently, someone I love and trust suggested that the joy and growth and ministry opportunities I’ve experienced this past year that have helped me arrive at my current understanding of my sexuality have, in fact, all been a part of Satan’s plan to distract me from what is best for my life, from what is God’s will for my life, with a host of addictive and ultimately unfulfilling “goods.” This person’s perspective doesn’t resonate with what I believe to be true of God or Satan, but I’ve certainly been wrong before.
So, like I wrote in the last post, I’ve been daily praying that God would bring some sort of clarity into my life after a series of small bombs has kicked up a discouraging cloud of debris. It’s a good prayer; I’m just spastically impatient. The Sunday sermon titled People Can Change: sign or true-yet-vaguely-unhelpful platitude? The driving directions to “try going straight”: divine message or vicious attempt to get me hopelessly lost in South Africa? The friends that encourage me about all the ways God has been working in my life: BFFs or USOTFOLs (Unwitting Servants Of The Father Of Lies)? Ultra-creepy stray cat outside the window that just held eye-contact with me for way too long: Ehhh, probably just an ultra-creepy stray cat.
Semi-joking aside, it has been a problem. (But seriously, every time someone tells me, while driving, to “go straight” I’m like, Is that you, God?) It’s one thing to be looking for the will of God, staying alert and humbly seeking wisdom from others, and it’s another thing to see hidden messages behind every banal occurrence: the former is standard Christian discipleship and produces a patient focus on God, while the latter is some kind of pseudo-panentheistic schizophrenia that distracts me from dwelling on the central reality that God loves me, Christ died for me, and that my whole life is being gloriously redeemed through his power.
Maybe I really have just missed an obvious message – I’m one of those people who has on more than one occasion searched for my lost cell phone while talking on said cell phone – but I feel like the messages I seem to be looking for in my frenzied impatience are more characteristic of a cunning and deceptive serial killer than the very good God of the universe.
I imagine most of us have had experiences like this, where our healthy desire to know and obey the will of God actually gets in the way of simply following him. Inquiring after God should bring forth greater trust and patience in my life, and yet I find myself doubting whether or not he has even made it possible to discern the answers to my questions with any sort of assurance. Whatever God’s will for my life may be, it certainly ain’t that. Somehow I got blown off course.
So for now I must rest, and return to that blessed fount of the Gospel, and linger there. Lord knows why I was looking anywhere else. I suspect that, whether or not these particular questions are satisfied in the near future, I will find the answers I need there.