When you have to choose a path, it does put the pressure on. You are afraid of getting God’s will wrong. Sorry: I didn’t mean to upset you.
But my question from a few letters back is serious: What if you really couldn’t make a fatal mistake?
Getting God’s will wrong.
Let me tell you a true story of someone who got exactly what you want (a direct voice from God) but still totally made the wrong decision — and who found out God could work perfectly well through his mistake.
It was the 13th century. Francis of Assisi was passionately devoted to following Christ. Jesus told his followers to go as beggars (Luke 10:4-7) so he decided to be one too.
He was spending his time in the ruin of an old chapel, the shrine of San Damiano. There was still a crucifix there, and it was before him as he prayed. Suddenly the image of Christ spoke to Francis:
‘Francis,’ it said, calling him by name, ‘go rebuild My house; as you see, it is all being destroyed.’”
St. Francis of Assisi had a vision and still got it wrong.
In retrospect it is clear: God wanted Francis to lead a deep work of reform in the whole of the Western Church.
He thought he was supposed to rebuild the broken-down chapel. So stone by stone, the little raggedy beggar began restoring San Damiano.
One is tempted to call this a dumb mistake.
And yet God used Francis.
Despite Francis’ low aim, God began to rebuild the Medieval Church through him. One by one, men and women came to join him.
They lived in poverty. They preached the Gospel. They cared for the poor.
Early on Pope, Innocent I saw the real importance of this whimsical Christ-like leader. He dreamed that this little man in rags was lifting up the great Roman church of St. John Lateran.
Francis inspired others to become radical disciples. They became an enormous movement, leaving everything to follow in the way of Christ.
There were 3000 in the movement in 1221, just 11 years after his order was founded. By 1300 it is estimated that there were 60 to 90,000.
Make a great mistake.
Francis blew it — and drew thousands to follow Jesus and live his mission.
I suspect that you and I will get God’s directions wrong too.
I’m confident that even if you get it wrong, God will use you.
Listen. Choose. Follow.
The thing to do is to try to listen, choose what seems like the right path, and follow.
The rest is in God’s trustworthy hands.
This post is part of a series. To start at the the beginning, click here.