Book Review: What Am I Supposed To Do With My Life?

What Am I Supposed To Do With My Life: God’s Will Demystified, by Johnnie Moore

[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.]

As the second book by this author I have read [1], there are some definite patterns that one can find. Since this book is generally excellent, it is worthwhile to discuss some of the flaws occasionally, some of which stem from the author’s lack of firm biblical knowledge (which is a failure to understand exactly what God commands), and more of which stem from the author’s general lack of knowledge and care in discussing historical issues. While most of the intended readers may not know enough about the Book of Judges or the life of William Tyndale to question the author’s veracity, those readers who are so informed will not be pleased by the errors that can be found. Two examples will suffice. Towards the middle of the book (pages 94-96) the author speaks about William Tyndale as if he was an aristocrat, that he was trying to translate the Bible from Latin (instead he was translating from the Greek and Hebrew), and that he was killed by Henry VIII (instead he was kidnapped and then put to death by Catholics based in what is now Belgium). The author’s lack of knowledge hurts his ability to use Tyndale as an example of biblical faith and following God’s will. Perhaps even more serious is his error towards the end of the book (on page 189) where the author states that Gideon lost the glory of his victory because of putting out the fleece and that it went to Jael, who did not appear in the story of Gideon at all but rather got the glory for killing Sisera rather than Barak from a little earlier in the book of Judges). The author’s lack of biblical knowledge hinders his point, because it distracts from the point he makes because of making elementary errors of understanding the surface narrative and errs in basic questions of fact.

This is embarrassing, and lamentable, because the book is really an excellent one in terms of its point, and it is a shame that the author did not really know his Bible or history well enough to get the facts straight. There is a lot to like about this book, and a great deal, in fact, in which I agree with the author about his views in divine providence and the will of God, a subject of great personal interest to me [2]. The basic point he makes is that God’s will is not mysterious at all, but rather that the mystery and ambiguity of life is so because we wish for God to absolve us of the burden of responsibility, while God wants us to act in ways that are according to our self-knowledge of our character and our knowledge of God’s ways and will make everything work out for His purposes as we walk in faith and grow in wisdom and understanding. God does not wish for us to be lazy and to abdicate the responsibility of choice, but rather God gives us freedom and choice as a way of allowing for adventure in our lives so that we are improved and made fit for the purpose that God has for our lives. In fact, the author has a useful four step process in determining God’s will, each of which is based on a fundamental and larger overall issue. First, where God commands, we must obey (obedience). Second, where God does not command, we have the freedom (and responsibility) to choose (freedom). Third, where God gives us the freedom to choose, He also gives us the wisdom to choose well (wisdom). Fourth, once we have chosen wisely God will work things out for His purposes (trust).

In order to demonstrate these points, the author includes a wide variety of biblical, historical, and personal stories that demonstrate different aspects of understanding God’s will and the larger issues that are involved. First, the author explores how it is that Christians can find out God’s will, and that is through obedience to God’s word, prayer and study and a life that brings us in conformance to God’s ways, and the development of our talents and self-knowledge so that we act according to our talents and passions and native personality, which point to the purposes that God has for us. Second, the author asks the reader forcefully if there is the commitment and the will to follow through with God’s will, not letting cowardice get in the way and recognizing there will be moments of doubt and uncertainty, but that when we do the best we can, that if we keep on persistently doing the best where we are, even in less than ideal circumstances, until such point as God stops us and redirects our path, then we will live God’s will in our lives, rather than showing the fear of commitment and lack of patience that is so common around us. Third, the author examines what the world would look like if Christians followed God’s will, looking at the benefits of discontent, when properly harnessed, in providing us with problems for us to work on with persistence and drive and skill until they are resolved.

All in all, this is not a perfect book, and more careful fact-checking and editing would have made it far better. That said, whether for better or worse, the advice of the author is according to my own habit and patterns of thought and behavior and belief system both in terms of freedom and responsibility as well as the indirect working of divine providence in a life that is filled with reflection and self-examination as well as effort in areas of passion and skill directed towards the fulfillment of deep longings and the resolution of immense discontent informed by personal experience. The author’s advice, while a bit difficult for some people to take, is well-reasoned and supported from the Bible, and immensely thought-provoking, and ought to encourage a lively debate with other books. If the author does not have a deep understanding of the Bible or an accurate understanding of the historical sources he attempts to cite in favor of his arguments, at least he is pointed in the right direction, and able to provide a thoughtful way of practically ascertaining and living according to God’s will that ought to be of great comfort to many readers.

[1] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/01/17/book-review-dirty-god/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/06/15/you-brought-me-here/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/01/08/a-grand-experiment/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2010/11/18/a-meditation-on-the-divine-will/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/divine-providence-in-the-life-of-nathan-the-upser/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/05/26/divine-providence-in-the-book-of-ruth-part-one/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2010/11/19/divine-providence-in-the-story-of-naaman-the-syrian/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/04/15/on-the-necessity-of-free-will/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Book Reviews, Christianity, Church of God, History and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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