One of the things that I found stimulating and challenging in reading Metaxas' Bonhoeffer was the sense of clear direction. In Dietrich Bonhoeffer, we are presented with a man who knew what he ought to be doing, and as a rule did exactly that. It may just be a trick of the biographer - after all, in writing a story, even a life story, one inevitably seeks out a thread that runs through, something that ties everything together - but it seems to me that there is enough in the original sources to justify the perception that Bonhoeffer's life was directed. I can think of very few Christians of my acquaintance who show that with any clarity, and I can't help but wonder why it is that most of us (including myself) seem to be flummoxed by the question of what we ought to do with our lives.
Is it, perhaps, that we are not listening? Bonhoeffer had deep pietistic tendencies, and was devoted to daily meditation on Scripture and prayer. He took Scripture seriously as the address of God to him in the here and now, and not just a collection of past revelations. Might there be a lack in our devotional practices?
Is it, perhaps, that we are not thinking? Bonhoeffer analysed his own situation in the light of the gospel, and was very much aware of the needs of the hour. Despite his pietistic leanings, he certainly did not retreat into individualistic piety, but sought the good of the society in which he lived. He had an uncommon intellectual ability, of course, and an insight to which few could aspire. But still, I wonder if we might not be thinking clearly.
Is it, perhaps, that we are unbelieving? In the final analysis, Bonhoeffer did what he believed to be right. He pursued his calling. Only knowing that God directs ours steps (and trusting that he forgives our missteps) can make anyone free to do this. From what I know of my own heart, I fear that sometimes we do not know what we ought to do simply because we do not trust God with our lives.
If anyone has any answers, I'd love to hear them. How can we serve the purposes of God in our generation?