What should I do? Should I take that job, move to that city, accept the internship, go back for another degree, ask her to marry me, buy that house? Decisions, decisions.
With these decisions come doubts, uncertainties, and even fears. What if this just doesn't work out? What if I'm leaving the best possible scenario for a dead end position? What if I'm really not supposed to be with that person? What if? On top of all our questions we wonder whether or not we will miss God's plan for our life? What if he wants me to pick path A and I choose path B?
I'm honestly not trying to oversimplify the complexity of those decisions or emotions but let's start with the basics.
First, you must truly believe that God loves you, he wants to bless you, and he wants to lead your life. Secondly, you should ask God to lead you. Sounds pretty simple, right? That's simply the starting blocks.
Many Christians create a scenario that looks something like this: You walk up to a fork in the road where you can go either right or left. You can see the pros and cons of both sides and you're certain that one path leads to peace, life and blessing, and the other leads to suffering, disillusionment and abandonment. You better choose wisely because there's a lot riding on this decision.
We tend to see the decisions in our life as black and white. There's a right path and a wrong path. I want God's will and blessing in my life so I better pick correctly. The reality is that sometimes there is a right and wrong path -- sometimes there's not. Sometimes there are two right paths. How do we make sense of God's will in the midst of all this uncertainty?
Like most spiritual matters there are no quick, easy, fix all solutions to the issues.
Here are a few, what I would consider, biblical suggestions:
Desire God's Will First
I think there is something to say about a person who honestly desires to fulfill God's perfect will for his or her life. Throughout scripture God is always looking at the heart of an individual. In fact, listen to these words,
"To man belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the reply of the tongue. All a man's ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord. Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed." (Proverbs 16:1-3)
Reflect on that last verse and it seems as though the concern is less about whether you choose path A or path B and more about the heart of the individual. Are my plans, desires, and passions completely submitted to Christ?
Find Wise Counsel
Throughout scripture there are examples of God speaking through different hierarchies, spiritual authorities and friends. Find the people in your life who are God-fearing, God-honoring, and who truly love you. These aren't the people who have their own agendas or crazy, self-constructed views on life. Remember, if they don't truly love God or don't love you then their input can be counterproductive and create more confusion than clarity.
I've had this conversation hundreds of times: "I'm just not sure yet, so I'm going to sit back and wait for God to speak to me." I usually follow that phrase up with, "You mean like an audible voice or writing on the wall?" If that were the criteria for moving forward with your plans and decision-making then I know a handful of people in my lifetime who would be qualified to make such a move.
Listening to the voice of God can't be done by implementing some strategy or formula, it's relational. It's about spending time with God. It can be found in reading scripture, journaling, praying, talking with a friend, reading a book, etc. Maybe for you it's simply a peace in your soul about a certain direction.
No matter the avenue that God chooses to speak, we must position ourselves to stop and listen.
Have the Right Motives
This section takes an honest assessment of your motives. Are you ready?
Is the root of your unwillingness to step out or make a move because of your fear? It's possible that you're unsure what will happen if you take a risk or if God will intervene on your behalf? Fear can be paralyzing. It can cause us to retreat when we should advance or cause us to be indecisive when the opportunity should be taken. As Brennan Manning in his book Ruthless Trust put it, "Craving clarity, we attempt to eliminate the risk of trusting God. Fear of the unknown path stretching ahead of us destroys childlike trust in the Father's active goodness and unrestricted love."
In essence, are we seeking clarity in order to reduce the need to trust God? Did you ever think that your need for clarity is actually rooted in distrust of God?
This fear can be turned into radical surrender and a healthy trust in God or it can cause us to retreat into our caverns of withdrawal; seemingly unhindered by the consequences and risk of stepping out. What's worse, stepping out in faith and falling short or never even trying -- the life never lived? Many of us would say that never trying is considerably worse and yet we stay locked within our caverns of comfort. In my opinion, healthy risk that leads to trust in God is one of the greatest ways we can honor God with our lives.
Another motive you must assess is why you're making a big decision. Is there discontentment at the root of your decision? Discontentment is a dangerous and unrelenting cycle that fools us into believing a change -- whether job, marriage or location -- will change the deep-seeded need in our hearts. With any change there is a honeymoon season, but if discontentment is at the root of your decision-making then you're destined to repeat history.
Like I previously stated, these are suggestions not some magical formula. There's no formula for the same reason God doesn't audibly speak in most circumstances -- it presents us with yet another opportunity to truly have faith and trust God.
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