Why Won’t God Just Tell Me What To Do?

That would certainly make things simpler in life, wouldn’t it? Like if there was a blank page at the back of every Bible, and every morning you woke up and there was a personal, hand-tailored message for you from God. Telling you where to eat lunch. Letting you know how to get another job and when it’s going to happen. Informing you of the right choice to make about your relationship.

But it doesn’t work that way. At least not for me. At times, it feels like we are stumbling through the dark, groping along with our hands outstretched in front of us to keep us from bumping into something.

I suppose you could take this as evidence of the absence of God – of His distance. That He is aloof. That the details of life don’t matter that much to Him.

Or you could recognize that this apparent absence is actually evidence of the exact opposite.

Often, the Bible has been called an instruction manual for life. That’s not true. Nowhere in the Bible did I find instructions that I was to marry Jana. That we were to have children and what we should name them. That I should take a job at Lifeway or that we should move to Nashville.

If this is an instruction manual for life, it’s a bit like trying to put together a model airplane using the picture on the box. Sure, you can glean some broad details, but what about how the tiny engine blocks fits inside the frame? Or how the steering apparatus is put together? It’s those little details that are missing.

Thing is, the Bible isn’t an instruction manual for life, and because it’s not, we see that God is not absent from those small details. The Bible is the means by which we might know God in Christ, not primarily the means by which we might figure out the details of our own lives. God is the main character of the Bible; not me. And not you.

One of the characteristics revealed in the pages of Scripture is God’s desire for intimacy with His people. And perhaps that’s exactly the reason why you don’t find blank pages waiting to be filled in on a daily basis. If that were the case, then where would our relationship with God be? We would reduce Him to a cosmic slot machine who spits out answers when we pull the lever.

And you don’t love a slot machine. You USE a slot machine.

Maybe the reason God doesn’t always just tell us what to do in the details is because in this, He’s doing what He does in so many other areas of life: developing intimacy with us. He’s forcing us to talk and listen. To even argue sometimes. But to know Him rather than just His plan.

That, after all, is what eternal life is about: knowing God. Not knowing the answers.

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22 Responses to “Why Won’t God Just Tell Me What To Do?”

  1. Sarah Says:
    May 10th, 2011 at 5:08 am

    I needed to read this today. and yesterday. and probably tomorrow.

    It is so easy to want to know all the answers.

    One of my very wise friends always tells me, “God doesn’t tell us what He’s going to do, He reveals to us who He is.”

    That’s the point. Always.

    And its so easy to lose sight of sometimes.

    Thanks for the reminder today.

  2. Rebecca Says:
    May 10th, 2011 at 5:35 am

    Excellent! What you have written makes so much sense to me. Thank you for such an insightful post. I know with my relationship with God it does feel like I’m trying to walk in the dark. It’s only when I call out to God in a heartfelt prayer do I feel God is near helping me. It’s a process. I became a Christian when I was 12 at a Christian camp. Only today did I realize that God wants me to open my heart to His love so I can be able to love others. So I opened my heart to His love today for the first time.

  3. heather joy Says:
    May 10th, 2011 at 5:46 am

    This is an excellent article – much needed at this time in my life.

    My favorite part of the article:
    “…perhaps that’s exactly the reason why you don’t find blank pages waiting to be filled in on a daily basis. If that were the case, then where would our relationship with God be? We would reduce Him to a cosmic slot machine who spits out answers when we pull the lever.
    And you don’t love a slot machine. You USE a slot machine.”

    Thank you. God Bless.

  4. So true « We're Awakening Says:
    May 10th, 2011 at 7:15 am

    [...] to blog I guess..pretty busy as the semester is ending. Meanwhile, read this interesting article: http://michaelkelleyministries.com/2011/05/why-wont-god-just-tell-me-what-to-do/ Posted by jessloh Filed in False Alarm Leave a Comment » LikeBe the first to like this [...]

  5. romelle blanton Says:
    May 10th, 2011 at 7:19 am

    Very helpful insight at a time when I am struggling with the purpose of Bible reading and study. I will write down and remember that the Bible is about God, not about me. Thank you.
    I found your page reading a la carte at challies.com

  6. God is the main character of the Bible; not me. And not you. | KevStar.us Says:
    May 10th, 2011 at 7:23 am

    [...] God is the main character of the Bible; not me. And not you. Often, the Bible has been called an instruction manual for life. That’s not true. Nowhere in the Bible did I find instructions that I was to marry Joy. That we were to move to Apple Valley and that I should take a job at West or that we should go to Hosanna! church. This entry was posted in Church. Bookmark the permalink. ← wartime lifestyle LikeBe the first to like this post. [...]

  7. MK Says:
    May 10th, 2011 at 7:24 am

    Thanks for the kind words and for clicking over to read the whole article, guys.

  8. Archangel Michael Says:
    May 10th, 2011 at 8:07 am

    YHVH (G-D) Does give us instructions. We’re too busy debating them, ignoring them, rationalizing why we don’t have to do them. This is the story of the Golden Calf in disguise.

    After being rescued from slavery, being delivered to Mt Horeb to receive the Nine Commandments and One Suggestion, they go and build a golden calf (moo). They name it YHVH (G-D) even Aaron says “These be your gods (Elohim)”. Then they party naked.

    So much for even the Ten Commandments.

    The absence we feel is because we refuse to see HIM in our lives, because we have created other gods to replace HIM. It is entirely our fault we don’t see him.

    Faith is not one foot in front of the other. It is doing the will of our Father even when it looks stupid, silly, wrong or foolish. If G-D tells you to take your son, your only son, and offer him as a sacrifice, would you? Could you? If G-D tell you to go into the land on the report of two, while ten others are saying not to, would you? Could you?

    Would you build a boat for 100 years having never seen enough water that could float it? Or would you simply say “God will provide a way”, and go about your daily lives.

    The Bible is the instruction book for life, but how many people have read it? How many people who claim to believe it and follow it, don’t know the lessons contained within it?

    I dare say, more Christians know about the details of Celebrities and Sports stars lives than they know about what is contained within Scriptures.

    Gotta run, Hockey and NBA playoffs are on.

  9. Gerald Van Iwaarden Says:
    May 10th, 2011 at 8:10 am

    Good post. We need to remember that the Bible is not a technical manual with specific steps to perform to do life tasks. It is the means by which a Holy God seeks to communicate His redemptive plans and history to those that desire to know Him and be in a relationship with Him through His Son.

    Genesis and Revelation are like book-ends and all the rest is the incredible journey.

  10. Dusty Deevers Says:
    May 10th, 2011 at 8:59 am

    Where’s the “like” button? :)

  11. Mary Says:
    May 10th, 2011 at 9:27 am

    excellent article! Truly, it’s about serving Him not serving us. Loved the slot machine reference. Too many of us live as if God is our genie in a bottle.

  12. MK Says:
    May 10th, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    Michael – You took the time to comment; I will take the time to respond. First off, I appreciate the great respect and and devotion you have to the Bible. When I say that the Bible is not an instruction book for life, I’m not intending to lessen its role and position in our lives. In fact, I’m seeking to do the opposite.

    To say that the Bible is not an instruction book for life does not mean it does not contain instructions for life. As you have pointed out, there are passages like the 10 Commandments. Or thousands of other passages, Old and New Testament alike. But I would argue that the primary intent of the Bible is not to show us how to live, but to show us who God is.

    God is the starting point. When we approach the Bible primarily asking the question, “How am I supposed to live?” we reveal our belief that we are the center of the universe. We are not. God is.

    The Bible does indeed tell us how to live, but only in light of what it reveals to us about God.

  13. Gary Runn Says:
    May 10th, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    Thanks for the great thoughts-good timing for me and good principles for all to consider!

  14. Just tell me what you’ll do, then gimme what I want. | Hermit Homestead Says:
    May 10th, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    [...] tell me what you’ll do, then gimme what I want. I read a good blog today about why it is God doesn’t just let us know what to do clearly at all the crucial junctures [...]

  15. Mimi Says:
    May 10th, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    Thanks for this post, it got me thinking so I wrote a little, too.
    http://adoptadelphia.wordpress.com/2011/05/10/just-tell-me-what-youll-do-so-i-can-get-what-i-want/

  16. Why won’t God just tell me what to do « Strengthened by Grace Says:
    May 10th, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    [...] 10, 2011 by strengthenedbygrace Great post by Michael Kelley on “Why Doesn’t God Just Tell Me What to Do?“ “That would certainly make things simpler in life, wouldn’t it? Like if there was a [...]

  17. Why won’t God just tell me what to do « Strengthened by Grace Says:
    May 11th, 2011 at 5:02 am

    [...] 11, 2011 by strengthenedbygrace Great post by Michael Kelley on “Why Doesn’t God Just Tell Me What to Do?“ “That would certainly make things simpler in life, wouldn’t it? Like if there was a [...]

  18. Archangel Michael Says:
    May 16th, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    The bible doesn’t tell you how to live everyday life. It does however tell you how to live your life everyday.

    Jos 24:15 KJV – And if it seem evil unto you to serve the YHVH (the LORD), choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that [were] on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the YHVH(the LORD).

    That is the choice we have, each day. I serve the Elohim of my fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

  19. agnes Says:
    May 19th, 2011 at 12:12 am

    thanx….i really needed it….

  20. Laudable Linkage « Stray Thoughts Says:
    May 21st, 2011 at 6:02 am

    [...] Why Won’t God Just Tell Me What to Do? [...]

  21. Carl Says:
    May 15th, 2012 at 1:22 am

    The picture on the box is all there is.

  22. agustin hernadez Says:
    August 21st, 2012 at 1:34 am

    well i really dont have much to say but know im going through alor of stress and sadness and i dont know what god is telling me and it seems that he is not listening to me at all. If any of you can pray for me i would appreciate it thank you.

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