(Moody: 2008; 128 pages)
I read this not long after reading and writing about the disaster that is the Blackabys' chapter on chasing after nonexistent wispy voices — and what a tonic it was!
DeYoung writes with a fresh, engaging voice that is pastoral in every good sense of the word. He's friendly and caring, yet exhortative and bracing. For instance.
Now, I know there are lots of good reasons why someone may still be in school past thirty. ...Just because you've been on the planet for one-fourth to one-third of your life and still haven't completed '"the transition" to adulthood doesn't mean you're automatically a moocher, a lazy bum, or a self-indulgent vagabond.Yow! And there's a lot of that: in a friendly, pastoral tone, DeYoung leans right in, looks you in the eye, and suggests you get moving on what you know you should do.
But it could mean that. (13)
Even more: what is the highest compliment one writer can pay another? "I wish I'd written that."
Well, I wish I'd written Just Do Something. With a very few reservations.
DeYoung sounds a Biblical wake-up-grow-up-and-get-moving call to an over-introspective, hyper-spiritualized, omen-seeking, vapor-locked, pseudo-spiritual, choice-overloaded generation. He rightly exposes the mania to seek, know, and do "God's personal will for me" as un-Biblical, and opposes it with the Bible's vision of a God who has given a sufficient, full, written revelation of Himself, has every detail in our lives (and everything else) under His sovereign control, and wants us to get moving in the path of obedience and wisdom.
It's theologically solid, and packed with Biblical grounding from start to finish.
Honestly, if I were to quote the striking, excellent passages in the book, we'd be here a long, long time. But here is just a selection:
...our search for the will of God has become an accomplice in the postponement of growing up, a convenient out for the young (or old) Christian floating through life without direction or purpose. Too many of us have passed off our instability, inconsistency, and endless self-exploration as "looking for God's will," as if not making up our minds and meandering through life were marks of spiritual sensitivity." (15)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. It is bad for your life, harmful to your sanctification, and allows too many Christians to be passive tinkerers who strangely feel more spiritual the less they actually do. (26)
God is not a Magic 8-Ball we shake up and peer into whenever we have a decision to make. He is a good God who gives us brains, shows us the way of obedience, and invites us to take risks for Him. (26)I'm pretty sure most of us would be more fulfilled if we didn't fixate on fulfillment quite so much (32)Because we have confidence in God's will of decree, we can radically commit ourselves to His will of desire, without fretting over a hidden will of direction.In other words, God doesn't take risks, so we can. (41)
The book brims with Biblical wisdom, solid theology, a pastor's heart, and a lively mind and sense of humor. There's some very deft parody of the absurdities of the specific-will, God-told-me mythology, even extending to playing the God-card as a dodge to evade taking responsibility for your choices. And with the criticisms, Pastor DeYoung always provides the God-honoring, wise, Biblical alternative.
For instance, he talks about God being able to "speak to His people in many different ways," by His actual voice (65-66). But in the context, I'm not sure he's saying this is for our day, so much as one of the features of guidance in the book of Hebrews (65-69). More clarity would have been helpful.
But then DeYoung does say straight-up that he believes God can still speak, give visions, the whole nine (70-74). However he says it would be exceptional and rare, and shouldn't be sought nor expected (70-71). DeYoung wants to be sure "that you don't think I am suspicious every time someone claims to have heard from the Lord" (74). But he also states that he is "just not blown away" by such claims.
Well, as you know, I am suspicious of such claims, totally and without apology. I just don't see God looking at us and saying, "You know, you kids have done such a terrific, bang-up, faithful job learning and doing and preaching the 66 books full of inerrant revelation I've already given you... what you need is just one more little special touch!" Just Do Not See it. Can't say "can't" — like I can't say it can't snow in the Sahara. But I can say "unlikely enough not to be looking for it," and bring your own water.
I don't think DeYoung would disagree with me.
Given that, how can I enthusiastically recommend the book? Because to my mind all the rest of the book effectively moots those four or five pages. I could wish he'd just leave them out in a future edition, but I expect to continue heartily to commend the book regardless.
Get it. Read it. Get another. Give it to someone.
You'll thank me.
But you'll thank Kevin DeYoung more.