"Yes" or "No"

When God is Silent

By Kersley Fitzgerald

Once upon a time, there was a 14-year-old boy who kinda liked a 13-year-old girl. He had navigated the world of male/female relationships his whole life, although he hadn't had a steady girlfriend since preschool (and that had lasted a year and a half). He wanted to know if he should express his feelings for the young lady and ask her to go out with him. (And there was clarification as to what "go out" meant, whether it meant see each other at school and let it be known they were "together," or whether it meant go to movies and dinners for which he would have to pay and coordinate transportation. After careful consideration of chore lists and child-labor laws, the former was chosen.)

Once the parameters of the potential relationship were determined, he flopped on his bed and lamented, "I just wish God would tell me yes or no!"

A huge request, spoken every day by many. And actually an improvement, in this situation, since the 14-year-old had only recently acquiesced to bringing God into the conversation after being told that, no offense to 14-year-olds, but when it comes to affairs of the heart, 14-year-olds are as dumb as soup. (To which he responded with a sigh and a, "Aren't we all?")

The 14-year-old was told that he was seeing the situation with a laser focus on one, not insubstantial, issue: Should I ask this girl to go out with me? And it seemed pretty simple. Sure, you could throw in a "not yet," or a "ask again in six years," but the answer basically boils down to "yes or no." But the situation is bigger than yes or no. It's bigger than a 14-year-old and a 13-year-old joined in some kind of quasi-relationship. It includes the hearts of the aforementioned, the naturally shifting social dynamics of the various friend-groups, the ability or inability to concentrate on school work, and the near-inevitability of the future break-up. (Because while the 14-year-old's confidant did know a couple who dated at 14 and married at 20, she also knew they had a nasty divorce somewhere around 35.)

So often what to us looks like a yes or no issue to God is an opportunity for much more. Our lives are peppered with markers ordained by God. Some are absolutes, like whether or not we'll be saved. Others we choose to fail or succeed at, like good works prepared in advance (Ephesians 2:10). But much of life, up to and including who we marry, is not fixed. It's negotiable depending on a variety of factors. And often God has bigger concerns than the what and the when that we so easily obsess over.

Think about the laws, rules, and suggestions given to God-followers in the Bible. There's very little guidance on what profession the average person should take, where they should live, or whom they should marry. The emphasis is on how they should live, what their character should look like, how they should treat others, and how they should revere God. The specific situation is the context in which these issues are developed and lived out.

The goal is to resolve these issues as they arise so that, in the future, we are clearer about what we should do. When my brother applied for a job inspecting cars for an auction house, he didn't have an existential crisis over it. He just wanted to make sure that, unlike the auto-body shops he'd quit in the past, they didn't try to pay him under the table. They were not only above-board, they appreciated his integrity and snatched him up. He knew to ask the question because of his experience. His character was already developed in this area.

For our dear 14-year-old, his character is still developing. He needs to consider his situation and allow tangential issues to seep in. He needs to open his eyes to how God works in the bigger picture. The more he does, the better he'll be able to evaluate without getting overwhelmed and over-analytical. And the more his desires will align with God's before he even asks the question.

God does give yes-or-no answers on occasion. But not often. More often, the question comes out of a situation that deserves more contemplation. "Should I ask her out?" becomes "How can I best honor her and our friendship?" "Should I take the job?" shifts to "How can I best serve God with my whole life?" The more we allow God to develop us spiritually in the small stuff, the better able we are to handle the heavy-hitters without locking up in confusion. And the more likely we are to remember to include God in every decision. Even (or especially) in those decisions that have no right or wrong answer.

Heady stuff for a 14-year-old Romeo. But it's a skill he'll (hopefully) use his entire life. Because "yes-and-no" questions are rarely as simple as we'd like.

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Christian-Life  | God-Father

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Published 12-7-15