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Decision Making and the Will of God

That is the title of a book I was given many years ago now, written by Garry Friesen (ISBN: 9780880700245). It isn’t particularly famous but it presents a fascinating and biblically well grounded view of how God guides us that sits in contrast to the popular Christian perception that God has a specific plan for every situation and that either you can’t do anything but follow it (extreme predestinationism) or that it is all to easy to miss the dot on the map and have to settle for second best for the rest of your life.

Friesen gives an alternative; that God loves us, cares for us and desires good things for us but that he is also able to work with us, allowing us true freedom in decision making and weaving even our mistakes into his tapestry. It’s not that we should ignore God in our choices but we are free to move forward trusting him as a loving parent and not a despotic and unforgiving tyrant.

It comes to mind because St Clement’s is currently in the process of chosing a new Rector. So far the interregnum has been going well but we have advertised, attracted a pleasantly large pool of applicants and are now seeing six of them for interviews. Today they arrived for introductions, a tour round the parish and an evening reception with PCC and other leaders from the church along with representatives from some other local churches and tomorrow a panel of six will be interviewing each one individually. I was involved today in conducting one of the tours and in the evening although that is then my direct involvement over for this stage.

I don’t envy the panel the task as I think any of the candidates could do the job but each would take the church in a different direction. However is it really a case of finding the one person God is calling to the role? That’s a superficially attractive figure of speech but the implication is either that we might as well just roll a die (if everything is predestined) or that we could make a horrible mistake we’ll be stuck with. I hope the panel can reach a consensus decision and, ideally, we’ll have something to announce before too long. Exactly who it is makes a difference to us, to them and to the five who are turned down, with ripples spreading wider still despite the confidentially surrounding the process (no names revealed here). However, in the wider scheme of things, perhaps the direction for us to be praying in is not about making the right guess in a divine game of chance but simply to be wise, humble and faithful enough to proceed in trust that God will work good through our decision and that the ripples will spread out blessing and not woe.

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