I came across a random, interesting fact as I was doing some reading on the book of Acts yesterday.
It had to do with the practice of “casting lots” in the Bible, which I never really understood as a kid. It always seemed strange to me that major decisions were made using different lengths of sticks, or whatever it was that they did, exactly.
As I got older, and had to start making major decisions about my own life, suddenly the idea of casting lots started to look a lot more appealing. An obvious, visible sign of what I should choose to do with my life? Yes, please! Those lucky people in the Old Testament, with their sticks and stones.
But that brings me back to my fun fact of the day:
In the Old Testament, “casting lots” is mentioned 70 times, but in the New Testament, it is only mentioned 7 times.
That is an extreme difference. And guess when the practice came to an abrupt end?
It was when the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost.
Isn’t that amazing? When the Holy Spirit came, there was suddenly no further need for games of chance. In a moment, everything changed for Christians forever, and we were given everything we need to guide us in any decision we will ever face in this lifetime.
Now that we have the completed Word of God, as well as the indwelling Holy Spirit to guide us, there is no reason to be using games of chance to make decisions. The Word, the Spirit, and prayer are sufficient for discerning God’s will today—not casting lots, rolling dice, or flipping a coin. (source)
So why is it still so appealing for us to beg for a sign? We talk about “laying out a fleece”, or joke about lightning bolts from Heaven that will make all things clear.
I could not count the number of times I’ve had conversations with people who are desperate to know God’s will, and don’t have a clue how to find out what it might be. We long for enlightenment, and certainty in decisions.
And yet, I keep thinking about the abrupt ending to “outside” methods of determining God’s will. It became all about the heart, and drawing close to Jesus – growing more dependent on Him, seeking after Him.
I came across an interesting question the other day: Do I really want to know God’s will, or do I just want to know the future?
Do I want to draw closer to God, or am I actually just longing for a gypsy with a crystal ball to tell me what’s coming next?
And do I really need to know what’s coming next, if I’m drawing close to Jesus?
I love what Bob Goff writes in his book, Love Does:
I think God passes by me a lot, and it serves to show me the direction He’s going. We don’t always know where He’s headed or what to expect along the way. But I think direction is the point, the part, and the whole of it. He wants followers, not just onlookers or people taking notes. Plus, I think God know that if I found out more than just the direction He was going, I’d probably try to beat Him there.
If we live life with the Spirit inside of us, and we continue to get really close to Jesus, and we keep asking for His desires to be put into our hearts so that we can follow Him, I think we end up going in the right direction.
And I think it’s okay if we don’t know much beyond that.
Oh, there is a part of me that still longs for a sopping wet piece of fleece, and I’m a little jealous of Gideon, who kept asking for all those specific signs – he got them all, PLUS he got an angel!
But he didn’t have the Holy Spirit. And that makes all the difference.
So these days, I’m trying to silence the questions that want to pop up, because most of the time, they have more to do with wanting to know the future than with getting close to God.
If I live in this moment, in this day, I already know what God’s will is for me:
It’s to know Him, and glorify Him in all I do.
It’s to think about today, and not worry about tomorrow.
His will is for me to care for my family, and for orphans and widows.
His will is for me to love a lot, to be joyful, to pray without ceasing, to have a thankful heart.
It’s to do what is before me, to keep heading in the direction He’s going, and to stay flexible, so that if another opportunity pops up unexpectedly from Him, I’ll be ready to put down the “To Do” list, and follow Him.
If I start with all that, I’ve got enough to keep me busy for awhile. I guess I don’t really need some sticks to show me what to do next!
What do you think? Do you ever wish you could still cast lots, or pray for some wet fleece?!