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Book Review - Just Do Something!
April 07, 2009
To be honest, I don’t know that we really need another book—yet another book—on guidance and the will of God. Having said that, there is probably no genre of book I recommend more often than this simply because experience shows that many Christians, too many Christians, do not understand how God expects us to know his will and how we may expect him to guide us to those things that please him. We are blessed to have some excellent resources at our disposal. The best known of these is Garry Friesen’s Decision Making and the Will of God, a book that many of the others depend on, but one that is perhaps a little intimidating due to its size (528 pages in the most recent edition). Dave Swavely’s Decisions, Decisions is the one I recommend most often as it serves as a useful condensed version of Friesen’s work. Similar titles have been written by John MacArthur, Bruce Waltke, J.I. Packer, Phillip Jensen and many, many others.
The author who seeks to add something to this genre is entering into a very crowded field and is going to need a unique angle. Kevin DeYoung takes on this challenge and succeeds admirably, crafting a short but powerful book that really packs a punch. His unique angle is reflected in the title: Just Do Something! “My goal,” he says, “is not as much to tell you how to hear God’s voice in making decisions as it is to hear God telling you to get off the long road to nowhere and finally make a decision, get a job, and perhaps, get married.” He fears that many Christians, because of their unbliblical understanding of knowing and doing the will of God, are wasting their lives doing nothing when they should just be doing, well, something! “I’d like us to consider that maybe we have difficulty discovering Gods wonderful plan for our lives because, if the truth be told, He doesn’t really intend to tell us what it is. And maybe we’re wrong to expect Him to.”
DeYoung’s understanding of the will of God and God’s guidance is very consistent with Friesen and Swavely and a whole host of others. He distinguishes between God’s secret will (or will of decree), God’s revealed will (will of desire) and God’s will for our lives (will of direction). God’s will of decree is his secret will, ordained from all of time—a will that is going to come to pass and that no man can thwart. God’s will of desire is his will as revealed in Scripture—a will we sometimes obey and at other times disobey. God’s will of direction is the one that answers those questions we have about jobs and spouses and houses and all the rest. Here’s the real heart of the matter, according to DeYoung. “Does God have a secret will of direction that He expects us to figure out before we do anything? And the answer is no.” Though we are free to ask for his direction and though we ought to be devoted to prayer in all matters, God does not burden us with seeking his will of direction ahead of our decisions. “God does have a specific plan for our lives, but it is not one that He expects us to figure out before we make a decision.” “Trusting in God’s will of decree is good. Following his will of desire is obedient. Waiting for God’s will of direction is a mess.” The solution is simple: we are to have confidence in God’s hidden will, we are to search out and believe and obey God’s will, and we are then to use wisdom to make decisions that God will bless. We are to use what Dave Swavely aptly terms “sanctified reasoning.” DeYoung leaves the reader to consider this: “If there really is a perfect will of God we are meant to discover, in which we will find tremendous freedom and fulfillment, why does it seem that everyone looking for God’s will is in such bondage and confusion?”
Here, then, is how we are to live within God’s will: “So go marry someone, provided you’re equally yoked and you actually like being with each other. Go get a job, provided it’s not wicked. Go live somewhere in something with somebody or nobody. But put aside the passivity and the quest for complete fulfillment and the perfectionism and the preoccupation with the future, and for God’s sake start making some decisions in your life. Don’t wait for the liver-shiver. If you are seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, you will be in God’s will, so just go out and do something.” God’s will for your life is really not as complicated as you may be making it out to be.
The book has occasional spots of appropriate levity. Writing about a young man whose affection for a woman was not reciprocated because “the Holy Spirit told me no,” DeYoung writes, “Poor guy—he got rejected, not only by this sweet girl, but by the Holy Spirit. The third person of the Trinity took a break from pointing people to Jesus to tell this girl not to date my roommate.” Pastoral throughout, DeYoung also covers the kinds of topics that people ask in relation to God’s will—issues related to work and wedlock. In a concluding chapter that certainly does not detract from the book even if it does not seem to add a whole lot, he pays tribute to his grandfather who has lived a long and productive life for God’s glory without ever concerning himself with discovering God’s hidden will.
In a brief Foreword, Joshua Harris says that this is his new go-to book on the subject of God’s will and decision making. I am inclined to agree with him, at least for those who are looking for a kind of entry level book. Friesen is still the most thorough and the one who lays the foundation, but this title is certainly much easier to read and much more likely to be read. I am quite convinced that any Christian who reads Just Do Something will benefit from it. I unreservedly recommend that you do just that.
Book Review - Just Do Something!