Years ago, I toured as an opening act for Rich Mullins. There was something about Rich's music that stirred up people's deepest longings. I loved overhearing conversations at the autograph table; they often turned serious and urgent.
More than once, a fan asked Rich how to discern the will of God. Rich would listen, and then offer an unexpected perspective.
"I don't think finding God's plan for you has to be complicated," he'd begin. "God's will is that you love him with all your heart and soul and mind, and also that you love your neighbor as yourself. Get busy with that, and then, if God wants you to do something unusual, he'll take care of it. Say, for example, he wants you to go to Egypt." Rich would pause for a moment before flashing his trademark grin. "If that's the case, he'll provide 11 jealous brothers, and they'll sell you into slavery."
I'm not sure whether this satisfied Rich's fans, but I suspect his advice has stayed with them in the way it's haunted me. When I find myself wrestling with life decisions, I think of Rich's Egypt Principle. It makes me laugh, and then it asks me to get down to the serious business of determining which of my options allow me to best love God and other people. Such an approach usually rules out certain possibilities, while affirming (and even creating) several others.
Sometimes, once I've narrowed down my alternatives in light of the Great Commandment, the determinative "jealous brothers" do show up. A scholarship comes through at one school and not another. A job offer is escalated or rescinded. Other times, however, I'm left standing at the junction of several seemingly ...