A friend of mine from school told me about this book a couple of months ago. As soon as I saw the subtitle, I knew it was a book I had to read. Anything with a full title of Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God's Will - or - How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Impressions, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, Etc. is just begging for me to pick it up and read it! So let me pause here and say thanks, L.B., for thinking of me when you found this book and for subsequently telling me about it. This book likely appeals to my friend and I because both of us found ourselves called into the MABS program at The Master's College without any full certainty of how this education would impact our current careers or paths. We both desire to take our education and somehow launch into full-time ministry, but are unfortunately lacking on neon signs pointing us to God's will in this. I've never been one to lay out a fleece or rely on "liver shivers" for my decision-making, but I have (more times than I care to recall) labored far too long and too heavily on certain decisions for fear that I would make the wrong choice, and perhaps in the process go against God's will. Thankfully, my thinking on that changed awhile ago, as I came to realize that, if we are walking with Christ, then we do not need to agonize over decisions as we strive to find God's "elusive" will. Certainly we can and must ask God's wisdom, especially in those large, life-impacting choices, but DeYoung's book confirmed for me that, in Christ, we truly do have the freedom to "just do something."
Kevin DeYoung is the senior pastor of University Reformed Church in East Lansing, MI. Since he is known as one of the "young, restless, and reformed" crowd, I did approach this book with a bit of caution. Not knowing if he would fall into the same box as potty-mouth Driscoll or even pseudo-charismatic Chandler, I didn't want to dive in without my discernment being exercised. I soon came to realize, however, that DeYoung exhibits a strong, straight doctrinal stance and that this would quickly become one of my favorite short books. I cannot deny that this book is written to a "younger" crowd. By "younger" I mean those in their 20s and 30s. This isn't to say that anyone older or even younger can't read this book and enjoy it and glean much from it. In fact, I'd recommend it to anyone who has ever agonized over this issue. I only mention a younger audience because of DeYoung's writing style. His manner of writing is very much the way that I imagine he would converse with someone in a one-on-one setting. I tend to write my non-formal works in much the same way, so perhaps that's why I felt so comfortable with this book from the start.
This short book takes some of the Christian's most common thoughts and approaches to God's will and examines them in light of this one truth: that God has already revealed His will and plan for our lives. That is, "to love Him with our whole hearts, to obey His Word, and after that, to do what we like." It's quite simple and sensible, really. Of course, it's often easier said than done! Modern evangelicalism hasn't helped any, with all of our "Christianese" telling us to seek and not make a move until "God has spoken." It's a wonder that Christians make any decisions at all without a "word from the Lord!" DeYoung dispels these anxieties, even pointing out that our worrying stems from sin.
"Worry and anxiety are not merely bad habits or idiosyncrasies. They are sinful fruits that blossom from the root of unbelief. [...] Worry and anxiety reflect our hearts' distrust in the goodness and sovereignty of God. [...] God's way is not to show us what tomorrow looks like or even to tell us what decisions we should make tomorrow. That's not His way because that's not the way of faith. God's way is to tell us that He knows tomorrow, He cares for us, and therefore, we should not worry." (Page 56-57).Can I get an "Amen?" DeYoung is careful to back his statements with Scripture and biblical truth as he addresses both minor, everyday choices, as well as those huge decisions such as marriage and career. He makes an excellent point early on in the book when he says:
"Some of this is a generational thing. After all, my peers and I were among the first ones to experience grade inflation, where we got A's for excavating our feelings and 'doing our best' at calculus. We were among the first to be programmed for self-esteem, as we learned that having a pulse made us wonderfully special. For as long as we can remember, we've been destined for superstardom. [...] We've been stuffed full of praise for mediocrity and had our foibles diagnosed away with hyphenated jargon and pop psychology.
It's no wonder we expect people to affirm us for everything, criticize us for nothing, and pay us for anything we want to do. We figure we should be able to find a great job right out of college in a great location that provides the same standard of living our parents have right now, and involves us in the world's troubles in a way that would make Bono proud. We want it all--all we need is for God to show us the way." (Page 30)When I read those two paragraphs, I had to laugh out loud. I also had to shake my head in sad agreement. I am from that same generation. I remember being told in school over and over that "you can be whatever you want to be. You can even be president!" I remember studying hard for a test and doing well, only to find out that those students who didn't study at all and should have failed didn't receive that failing grade because it may hurt their self-esteem. Self-esteem: that's really a key doctrine of public education, isn't it? We're all great, we're all wonderful, each of us is extra-super-special! Never any mention of sin or depravity. Instead of making students aware of sin, they are, nowadays especially, encouraged to participate in it as homosexuality and "safe sex" are taught even in the elementary schools. Kind of makes a good case for homeschooling, doesn't it? But I digress...
DeYoung offered a real-life illustration that really drove his point home:
"By and large, my grandparents' generation expected much less out of family life, a career, recreation, and marriage. [...] It would be a good exercise to ask your grandparents sometimes if they felt fulfilled in their careers. They'll probably look at you as if you're speaking a different language, because you are. Fulfillment was not their goal. Food was, and faithfulness too. [...]
Recently, I was talking with Grandpa DeYoung, a lifelong Christian now in his eighties. I asked him if he ever thought about what God's will was for his life. 'I don't think so,' was his short response. 'God's will was never a question presented to me or I ever thought about. I always felt that my salvation...depended on my accepting by faith the things that we believe. After that, I don't think I ever had a problem thinking: Is this the right thing for me?'" (Page 31)Now, don't be mistaken. DeYoung isn't saying in this book that we all need to find a mundane, mind-numbing job and just be happy in it and never desire to do something greater for the Lord. He simply makes the point that, his (and my) generation especially, have been raised to seek this elusive "fulfillment" that was barely a thought in the lives of past generations. We have been so inundated with "bigger, better, and greater" that we can never be satisfied with a steady, reliable, God-provided lifestyle. We are constantly seeking more...and we are using our "search" for God's will as an excuse. The seeker-sensitive and Word-Faith movements have only perpetuated this in Christian circles as sermons about "dreaming big" fill the pulpits of these so-called churches.
The points that DeYoung makes in this book could take me on a hundred different tangents, so I will end my (very high) recommendation with DeYoung's answer to the question, "What is God's will for our lives?"
"[A]s an overarching principle, the will of God for your life is pretty straightforward: Be holy like Jesus, by the power of the Spirit, for the glory of God." (Page 62)This short sermon excerpt from John MacArthur wonderfully touches on this subject as well:
PYROMANIACS' REVIEW OF THIS BOOK
TAKING THE MYSTERY OUT OF KNOWING GOD'S WILL