Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Purpose & Obedience

My small group has just started working through a curriculum called "Breakaway" from Andy Stanley. It's interesting how the same "theme" can pop up again and again in different areas of my life. There are some similar things in this teaching at the Mark Batterson book I recently finished. The "Breakaway" series talks about how we all started out with big dreams about doing big things, but in the end we wind up living pretty ordinary lives. It talks about how to live an extraordinary life without running away from relationships or responsibilities -- by changing our beliefs and attitudes instead of our circumstances. Stanley says that our life is the result of the decisions we've made -- and our decisions are the result of our beliefs. Bad beliefs lead to bad decisions and bad outcomes... so we neglect the root of the problem when we try to change our circumstances without addressing the underlying beliefs that brought us there in the first place.

On the surface, it might seem that the Batterson book is actually encouraging the opposite of what the "Breakaway" series teaches. He talks about chasing lions and getting out of our comfort zones -- making the kinds of radical decisions that can change the course of a life. In fact, he highlights the stories of several individuals (including himself) who uprooted their lives, took dangerous risks, and came out on top. After reading some parts of Batterson's book, I imagined myself quitting my job to pursue some dormant dreams... chasing my own lions.

But here's where my "lion chasing" comes to a screeching halt: I've made a lot of big decisions (that wound up being bad decisions) because I thought that God was leading me in that direction. If I was wrong then... what reason do I have to be confident now? It all goes back to that idea of destiny that I blogged about...

So how does this tie in to the "Breakaway" message? Here's another Batterson quote:

"Obedience is a willingness to do whatever, whenever, wherever God calls us. And that looks very different for each of us. It doesn't always necessitate going halfway around the world. Often the most courageous actions only require us going across the room or across the street."

Maybe "big obedience" -- at least the way Batterson writes about it -- is not an option for me right now. But what about the smaller things? I don't need some earth-shaking revelation from God to tell me that I'm supposed to share my faith with others. How am I doing that in my everyday life? Is my restlessness and desire for "bigger" things clouding my vision so I miss a million smaller opportunities that present themselves every day?

Or, to put it in Stanley's terms from the "Breakaway" series: Can I identify a faulty belief that resulted in a bad decision and a bad outcome? Perhaps my "faulty belief" is that true obedience must take the form of lion-chasing: if it isn't radical, it isn't God...

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