Casting Lots, Some Wet Fleece, and a Crystal Ball

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?

Love DoesI 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?!

Why We’re Leaving Camp

Thank you all so much for your kind comments, emails, facebook messages, etc. It’s been hard to share our news with everyone. We’re excited about what the future holds, but also know that we will miss camp and all the people very, very much.

A number of you have been asking about what’s next, and how it came to be, so I thought it might be good to share a bit of the process we went through in reaching our decision to leave camp. In the years that Ben and I have been in ministry, the topic most people seem to be struggling with is figuring out what God’s will is for their life. I’m sure most Christians have wished, at one point or another, that God would speak in a loud, obvious voice, and reveal “The Plan”.

But when is it ever that easy?

However, I have learned from our past experiences that there are many blessings to be found in the search for God’s will. Times of facing the unknown have led to growth and deeper trust in my Father who knows what is best. These times force me to rely on Him in the way I should be all the time.

Ben and I have had to make a number of tough choices over the years, which I’ve written about in my blog series “Chucking the Five-Year Plan”.

But this time, the decision seemed even harder than others we’ve had to make in the past.

Although Ben and I always wanted the chance to work at camp, and have loved being here, it has been hard in a lot of ways. There were a number of concerns we’ve had, in regards to how long we would stay at camp, including:

1) Anika’s schooling and being involved in various opportunities as she gets older

2) My health challenges and the need for very regular appointments with my beloved chiropractor, physio and massage therapists

3) Finances (we were spending a lot of our savings on getting to appointments in the city), and different choices for our future

4) The demanding schedule and symptoms of burn-out sneaking up on us, even though we love the ministry we do

One of these reasons alone would not have been enough to convince us to leave camp. But before Christmas, we spent many evenings sitting on our couch, talking and praying about what we should do.

During that time, Ben’s dad came along and said, “Want to work for me?” And Ben said, “Maybe I will.” To which Ben’s dad replied, Are you serious??

This is not the first time the idea has come up, but every other time, our answer has been no. We have absolutely loved being involved in full-time ministry. Ben knew that at some point in his life, he wanted to get involved in business in some way, but until now, the time never felt right.

Even though we were interested in the idea of Ben working with his dad, we still had no idea if that was what we were supposed to do. We didn’t know if it was the right time to leave, or what God wanted us to be doing once we were done at camp. We had no idea where we wanted to live.

All along, I had imagined that when it was time to leave camp, God would miraculous produce some kind of awesome, exciting new ministry opportunity that was obviously such a perfect fit, we’d have to be blind to miss it. That’s kind of how He’d done it in the past! I was expecting a repeat.

One evening, in the midst of our confusion, I was expressing my frustration with God to Ben. I went on and on about how I had imagined God would reveal Himself, and how I just longed for the perfect solution to come along – the right job, in the right place, the right fit for our family, and why was God not producing this for us? Right now? And suddenly, I realized that He already kind of had – it just wasn’t a job in ministry.

The opportunity to work with Ben’s dad provided answers to many questions we had. It fit very well, in many different ways. It just wasn’t what I had always expected we would do.

From that point on, I allowed myself to be more open to whatever God was going to reveal, even if it meant that we would, for the first time in almost 11 years, not be involved in full-time ministry.

Details started falling into place, and as Ben and I talked and prayed, we began to see more and more reasons why taking a break from ministry might be a very good thing for our family. Camp is a bubble. It’s a wonderful bubble, but it’s still a bubble. Along with many other positive things, living here has provided us with the opportunity to pull away from a lot of the pressures of our culture, giving us the space to figure out what we want for our life, our family, our faith, and it’s been good.

But it would be unhealthy to live in a bubble forever. We are trying to minister to real people who live in the real world…that we ourselves haven’t been a part of for five years.

I want to have neighbors, and I want to minister to people, not because I’m paid to do it, but because as a follower of Jesus, there is no other way to live.

So we sat there talking on our couch, realizing there was a door of opportunity open before us, but we still didn’t know if God wanted us to walk through it.

Then at Christmas, we listened to an amazing message by Bruxy Cavey, in which he talked about the birth of Jesus.

He spoke about how it had been prophesied that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem many, many years before it actually happened. It had to happen that way. And yet when the time came, Mary and Joseph did not receive a miraculous sign, or an angel telling them to go to Bethlehem.

They went to Bethlehem because a census was being taken, and that was just where normal life brought them. The wise men followed a star, and the shepherds got a choir of angels, but all Mary and Joseph got was a census.

Sometimes, God’s will is accomplished just by living an ordinary life. By simply making logical choices.

I keep expecting things to be crazy, exciting and miraculous all the time, if God is truly in it.

But the truth is, a lot of the time, He’s in the ordinary stuff. And He makes the ordinary stuff crazy, exciting and miraculous, because He is truly in it.

I still can’t say, with absolute certainty, that I know how to determine God’s will. Ben and I have talked about how we turn it into this big, “One Right Decision” kind of a thing. But it’s life, and we’re not perfect, and God knows we’ll make mistakes. He gave us the ability to think logically about things, and He gave us the freedom to choose.

We hope that we’re making a very good choice. We feel as though God has guided us in this choice. We also feel that life in general has pointed us in this direction. We’ll take the open door, and we’ll keep trusting and looking to God for the crazy, exciting, and miraculous.

And it turns out that we will be doing this in Niverville. Who would have thought? Not me! Life is full of surprises.