You Choose

Tom Arthur

boy on slide FTR TSP 78806971My son loves going to playgrounds. My favorite playgrounds have lots of nooks and crannies and are surrounded by a fence. As I sit and watch my son play, I don’t care whether he spends most of his time playing on the swings or in the sandbox, running back and forth on the swinging bridge, or going down the curly slide over and over again. I only want him to stay within the fence. For the most part, my will for him is that he have as much fun as he can and that he enjoy whatever he enjoys. Watching him have fun doing what he wants to do brings me great pleasure, as long as he doesn’t leave the playground.

Sometimes, we think that God’s will is like a flow chart. If you have two choices, one is God’s will and the other is not. So once you have made a bad choice, you’re forever out of God’s will. Yikes! Lately, I’ve been given another image of God’s will—a playground. I am an imperfect father, but God is a perfect parent in every way. God does not fail in the ways mothers and fathers fail. Yet I wonder if God’s will for us isn’t similar to my will for my son on the playground. God has set up some boundaries; and within those boundaries, God is pleased when we choose to do what brings us the most joy. Does our joy bring God joy in the same way I enjoy my son’s joy? Ireneaus, an early church leader, said, “The glory of God is a human being fully alive.” Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10b, NRSV). It sounds as if our joy just might bring God joy! So what’s the fence in this analogy? The fence is love (1 Corinthians 13). The fence is morals (Exodus 20:1–17) and the conviction of the Holy Spirit (John 16:7–8) about what it means to love God and neighbors (Matthew 22:36–40). The fence is treating others the way that we want to be treated (Matthew 7:12). The fence is humbling ourselves in the same way Jesus humbled himself by pouring himself out for others (Philippians 2:1–18). The fence is treating the least among us as if they were Jesus (Matthew 25:31–46). The fence is justice, kindness, and humility (Micah 6:8). The fence is forgiving others as God has forgiven us (Matthew 6:14).

playground2 TSP 179229720That’s the fence. So where should we play on the playground of life—on the swings? in the sandbox? on the slide? on the swinging bridge? What is God’s will? Generally speaking, God’s will for the playground of life is this: Play where it gives you the most joy, does good to others, and brings glory to God. You choose, and it will bring God joy.



What are you passionate about? What brings you great joy? Write it down. That’s part of God’s will for your life. Take some time to look up the verses listed above. How does scripture provide a fence for living out your passion and joy? Talk with someone about what you’ve learned about God’s will for your life.

Tom Arthur sometimes wonders if chasing a toddler around playgrounds is God’s will for his life. He’s also the pastor at Sycamore Creek Church ( in Lansing, Michigan, where he lives with his wife, Sarah, and his two sons, Micah and Sam.

—from devozine (July/August 2014). Copyright © 2014 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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