from Lindsey Funtik, Coordinator of Volunteer Ministries, Ashland First United Methodist Church, Ashland, Ohio.
Today is a day for a new adventure! For the first time in what I hope will be many, I am featuring a fellow writer. There’s power in supporting each other, friends! Be sure to cheer one another on as you walk out your own callings!
Speaking of calling, the book on the docket for this afternoon is Discovering God’s Calling by Philip Wilder. Philip is a dear friend of mine who walks an intensely passionate path of discipleship. He always seeks to be intentional and obedient and prayerful, plus there’s photo proof of him hopping across the top of ancient stone pillars like Abu, the monkey from Aladdin. Suffice it to say, Philip is awesome.
His latest endeavor is to give the world this work which helps his readers discern the Lord’s will for their lives. It is at once motivational and intimate. He boldly speaks his convictions, but does so in a way that lets his own loving and playful heart bleed through. Philip also puts his theology on the ground (something that, to me, is a feature of any Christian text worth its salt) by providing concrete methods for mapping out how interests can be applied to Kingdom work and drawing clear connections to the voices of Scripture.
God is using Philip’s words to help us all understand what it means to adventure for Christ.
Philip graciously agreed to answer some questions for a short interview (another wonderful first for this blog) and you’ll find his thoughts below!
What prompted you to write this book? What was the process like for you?
God has led me on an incredible adventure ever since the time I said “Yes” and followed God into the scary unknown. Since that first step, I’ve realized that I can trust God even when everything within me says “No”. I’m so glad I took that first step. Unfortunately, when I look around, I see so many Christians hiding from God’s calling out of fear only to live boring and unfulfilling lives. So, I decided to write this book to help Christians see that they can live wilder (as I call it), and step out with God on a great adventure. Writing this book then flowed out of that idea. I wrote each chapter as if the person I was writing to sat right in front of me, and kept asking me questions after the previous chapter. Of course, I had to do a good bit of trimming to keep my writing focused after this first draft, as I often repeated myself or wandered off on a topic that wasn’t entirely related to the point of discovering God’s calling.
What would be the main piece of advice/encouragement you would give to someone discerning God’s calling for their lives?
I would emphasize over and over again that we shouldn’t let our fear hold us back. God has such wondrous and glorious things planned, but our enemy (Satan) will do whatever he can to hold us back. Unfortunately, for many people all he needs to do is add an element of fear and instantly many Christians will let go of the dream and settle for a boring and unfulfilling life that could be more accurately described as a prison of fear. But, what if God is as good as he claims to be in the Bible? What if he really did implant these dreams in our hearts with the full intention of fulfilling them in his timing as we follow him? What if it were possible to live this way? I’d encourage readers to set aside that fear for just a moment, to search that deep longing that’s followed them their entire lives, to trust God with all the unknowns, and I’d dare them to dream once more.
How do you navigate the balance between understanding our “marching orders” from God and understanding our identity as beloved by God without actually having to do anything?
I’m not going to lie. Sometimes this is really hard for me. I’m very goal-oriented. But, whenever I focus too much on the “doing” side of things, I burn out. I turn myself into a machine as I try to be as efficient and productive as possible. In the end, what is the point of what I’m doing or how I’m living if I don’t operate out of my love for Christ? I don’t want to work for God. I want to play with God (this is why we selected the picture for the cover of my book). I’ve walked through the absolute hardest seasons of life with complete joy and peace because I walked close with God. When I walk close with God he fills me with overflowing love. This love is so overflowing I can joyfully give up anything I need to, just to show love to others. And this is the kind of lifestyle that changes lives. What’s the point of doing if we do without love? The Bible makes it clear that even prophesying is pointless if it isn’t done with love (1 Corinthians 13). God first and foremost wants our hearts. If we sacrifice our relationship with God (even just a fraction) for the sake of doing something for him, Satan wins.
How would you describe adventure in the Christian life? How can that look different for each believer seeking to embark with Jesus?
Great question. I don’t want stay-at-home moms to think they aren’t following God because they are “stuck” watching/teaching their kids. Nor do I want those who work in an office to think that they aren’t trusting God because they are “locked up” inside all day. Adventure is a beautiful word that adds purpose to difficulty and hardship. I remember once while in the Middle East trying to find a taxi to get home. It started raining so hard streams formed in the streets. My friends and I had to jump over/trudge through these trash-filled streams just to find a taxi. An easy way to look at this would be that this situation was frustrating, annoying, cold, and uncomfortable. However, we were all laughing, because we saw it as an adventure or a battle to endure. You don’t need to live out in the wilderness to go on an adventure, many do live out in the wilderness and they discover it’s boring. Anyone can live wilder (or live an adventurous and Christ-filled life). All it requires is walking close with Christ, and taking the wild steps of faith that he calls you to. If we take these steps of faith, life won’t be boring. It will be hard and scary, but it will be an adventure: a life of meaning and purpose. And this is what brings vibrancy to life as well too. You can do this whether you are wealthy or broke, or even if you are a full-time student, an office worker, or a stay-at-home parent. This calling is open to everyone, as God always intended it to be.
What is your favorite story from Scripture and why?
This is hard. There are so many Bible stories that have inspired me over the years. I personally feel a deep connection with David and his many years of waiting for God to fulfill his promise to him and how David lived faithfully despite the long process. But, at this moment, I’m going to have to pick the story of Sampson. So many of us think we are too messed up or that we’ve failed God too many times. However, God still uses Sampson. God gave him a calling from before he was born, and then specifically equips him to carry out this calling just like he does the rest of us. Despite obviously being filled with strength from God, Sampson gets distracted and starts living in sin. Even when he betrays God and is blinded and imprisoned by his enemies, God still uses him after he humbles himself and turns back to God for help. God could’ve used anything to destroy his enemies. He could’ve used an earthquake to knock the building over on his enemies, but instead, he decides to strengthen Sampson so he can push it over and bring relief to Sampson and his oppressed people. I think this is a beautiful picture of how wonderful God is and his mercy. He loves us so much and desires more than anything to use us. Just like a father who entrusts the important task of holding the nails to his son as he builds a wall, so God uses us. Not because he needs us, but because he wants us to join him in the important work. He wants us to be able to look at what he does with satisfaction and say “I got to be a part of God’s great rescue plan.” Could God be more wondrous and loving?
Get yourself a copy of Discovering God’s Calling on Amazon and make sure you keep your eyes peeled for Philip Wilder! May we all follow his example and dare to step into the wild adventure God has for us.
Cross-Posted from Reflections on Faith, Words, and The Holiness of Today