A very dear friend sent me something to encourage me the other day. It was about stepping out in faith, and the author wrote of her “crossing a modern day Jordan” as she quit her job in a time of financial difficulty because “God instructed me to.”
I am glad this woman is realizing her desires by returning to stay-at-home status. I cannot wait for the day I am able to return to ministry as my life’s work. However, there were many things in this woman’s writing that really concerned me, beginning with the premise that “God told me to” do something.
When I read these kinds of things, I am always tempted to ask exactly how God told them to do something- was it whispered in her ear? Did she get an email or a phone call? I know I sound flip, but this is a perfect example of something I see so often, which is proof texting Scripture to make it fit something we want it to fit, we make it say something we want it to say and use it to justify or spiritualize our own desires!
This nice lady (who I have no doubt means well and believes what she wrote) has yanked a passage of Scripture that was not written to her or her circumstances (It was written to the Hebrews who were to cross into the Promised Land) and made application to her own situation.
When she acted on this “instruction from God” she said she felt a sense of peace and took that as an affirmation that what she had done was the right thing. As she packed her desk and prepared to leave her job she had no plan, no means of replacing the income she would lose- but she did have peace.
You have to understand, I like that peaceful feeling as much as anyone. However, Scripture does not tell me to live my life by such feelings even when they are peaceful feelings. I have had numerous adulterers sit across from me and tell me they felt peace about their affair and women tell me they feel peace about leaving their husbands and children. Even peace can be deceptive and it is also frequently used to justify sin. Another misuse and extrapolation of a passage of Scripture yanked out of context (Phil 4:7)
She states that “God met me at the mailbox” when she arrived home and in the mailbox was an unexpected check that equaled a months wages. She took this as a sign that she was right in quitting her job, and right in taking this “step of faith.”
What makes me shudder is the realization that many other women will read her material and make personal application to their own lives and quit their jobs placing themselves in great financial peril. I have been down this road personally, not only with jobs but with other things when “God told me” to do something. What happens when the un-plan begins to impact reality? When there are bills to pay and no money, when there are mouths to feed and no food? I cannot abide by such actions as being spiritual, because they are in reality, foolhardy.
I do believe that God can give us direction in life, and I do believe that direction comes from the Bible. I do not believe that taking Scripture out of its context and making personal application to it comes from God as direction for life. This is akin to the person who when looking for direction from God took their Bible, closed their eyes and told themselves they would do whatever the verse their finger landed on when they opened it said to do. Unfortunately for them, their finger landed on Matthew 27:5 (Judas went and hanged himself). If that were you, you would no more do that than any other absurd thing that someone suggested, but some people still insist on getting their “instruction” from God that way!
When things go badly after this type of “Godly direction” who gets the blame? God does. “God let me down” is the frequent lament of people in deep trouble due to poor decision making. It is tragic.