Follow in the Small Things
Lately I have come to a point in my life where I must make some very serious decisions, decisions that could affect my entire life. I am coming to a crossroads where there are many paths to take. The only question is which path is the right one?
From a young age I’ve known, vaguely, what I wanted to do with my life: I wanted (and still want) to follow God and do what He would have me do. I just haven’t known exactly what that is. Does he want me to be a writer, or a director, or a teacher, or what? I still don’t know. It has been a source of anxiety and frustration for me all my life. Where am I to go? There are many ways that seem good to me; which one is the road that God wants me to follow? Why doesn’t he just tell me? Why don’t I feel led? And then, the horror that comes with that thought: perhaps God has been leading me and I have been too indecisive and afraid to notice! What a terrifying thought, to think that I may have “missed the boat” on God’s plan for my life. A silly fear, after a moment’s reflection. God is patient, and he speaks clearly when we listen. I have been trying to listen. Still I can’t shake the fear entirely.
Thus has been my thoughts of late, when two very normal things happened. The first is that at my internship (which is in the media department of my church) I was asked to make a small edit to the footage of the church Christmas play. Now I was out of town at that time so I didn’t see the play. As it turns out my boss had been given information that was slightly off about where the edit actually needed to occur, and as a result I ended up skimming through the whole play (multiple times) looking for a scene that didn’t exist. In this way I got the general effect of watching the play. Without going into too much detail Jesus is a character in the play and greatly inconveniences a few Christians by being himself. It was a great play, but there was a few lines in particular that stuck with me. The Jesus character kept telling people to follow Him wherever he led; but when one character asked where he was going He simply said “Follow me and you’ll find out.” This frustrated me a little. I want to follow! Tell me where to go! How can I follow if I don’t know where you’re going!
The second thing that happened was that I read a book. Or rather reread a book. I was flipping through God in the Dock, which is a collection of essays and interviews by C.S. Lewis. I was reading bits at random when I came across the transcript of a public question and answer session that Lewis had held. I’ll reproduce the relevent bit here.
“Question: Will you please say how you would define a practising Christian? Are there any other varieties?
C.S. Lewis: Certainly there are a great many other varieties. It depends, of course, on what you mean by ‘practising Christian’. If you mean one who has practised Christianity in every respect at every moment of his life, then there is only One on record — Christ Himself. In that sense there are no practising Christians, but only Christians who, in varying degrees, try to practice it and fail in varying degrees and then start again. A perfect practice of Christianity would, of course, consist in a perfect imitation of the life of Christ. I mean, in so far as it was applicable in one’s own particular circumstances. Not in an idiotic sense it doesn’t mean that every Christian should grow a beard, or be a bachelor, or become a travelling preacher. It means that every single act and feeling, every experience, whether pleasant or unpleasant, must be referred to God. It means looking at everything as something that comes from Him, and always looking to Him and asking His will first, and saying: ‘How would He wish me to deal with this?’”
I thought that bit was interesting, but soon put it out of my mind and went on with my business.
Later that night I was alone in my apartment watching TV before going to bed. I was flipping around when I came across a show that I knew was a) very funny and b) often raunchy, mean-spirited, violent, and even blasphemous. I, as is sadly too often usual for me when channel surfing, ignored part b and focused on part a. I started watching and was just through the theme song when suddenly the interview popped into my head.
“It means looking at everything as something that comes from Him, and always looking to Him and asking His will first, and saying: ‘How would He wish me to deal with this?”
For the first time in far too long I thought to myself “Would Jesus watch this show? Would He want me to watch it?” The answer was pretty obvious: no. The show’s entertainment value in no way made up for the garbage I’d be putting in my mind and heart, as well as the fact that it often insulted my Lord and Savior. It would be foolish and dishonorable for me to watch it. So I changed the channel until a came across a reality show on the sci-fi channel about monster makeup artists and watched that instead. It was then that I realized something. I had been begging God for weeks to give me guidance about the big things in my life, but I hadn’t stopped for a second to think about his guidance for the small things in my life. With the big things it was not immediately apparent which choice was best; but in the small things it’s often very obvious what choice is best if I would only stop to think about it. But I wasn’t bothering to think, I was just doing whatever I felt like doing. It wasn’t just about TV shows; in my interactions with people, my writing habits, and how I spent my free time I wasn’t seeking God’s will. Why should God advise me in the big things when I ignore his advice in the little things?
If you’re feeling lost when it comes to the serious choices of your life, check to see if you’re doing well with the choices that don’t seem so dire. Life is made up of our little daily choices: in the end God may care more about how you treat your coworkers than which field of work you decide to go into.