How many times have you wished that God would write out the answer to the decision you are facing in the clouds? When it comes to making difficult and complex choices, we would all like some help from above. If skywriting is asking too much, couldn’t God send some sign from heaven? The job seems perfect for my skills and passion, but the pay will force us to move. The best candidate seems almost too good to be true . . . could I be missing something? Critical choices require greater clarity and can generate a lot of insecurity.
Jacob always did whatever it took to make sure things went his way, and was permanently crippled after wrestling with God for the blessing he had stolen from Esau (Genesis 32). Gideon was a “man of valor”, yet he struggled to trust that he had heard from God: “If now I have found favor in your eyes, then show me a sign that it is You who speak with me.” (Judges 6) Paul was always writing about decisions to visit this place or that—“if the Lord permits” or “if it seems advisable’; but often he says the Holy Spirit prevented or compelled him to do what he had planned . . . and sometimes his decisions led to “imprisonments and afflictions,” or resistance from those he loved most (Acts 23).
God doesn’t leave us alone to make decisions, and promises to guide us (Proverbs 3:5-7). Here are some of His methods for directing our path.
1. God uses the Bible to speak to us.
God’s primary voice is His Word (this is why the Bible is called the Word of God). God’s words go forth and things happen—“Let there be light!” or “It is finished!” You will discover principles of truth and operating directions as you take time to meditate on the whole of Scripture. Take note of the ways God has directed and intervened in the lives of men and women chronicled in Scripture. He inspired the words and imagery of Psalm 119:105-106: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to keep your righteous rules.” As we process the specifics of real life decisions, we can be confident that God will not ask us to do anything that breaks His moral code revealed in Scripture.
2. The Holy Spirit helps us decipher our decisions.
Sometimes the Holy Spirit, who lives inside every believer, speaks to us directly on a matter. Think of the dreams of Joseph, Daniel and Peter. Remember the Angels that appeared to Sarah and Mary and Cornelius. How attentive are you to the Spirit of God within? He is called our Counselor, Advocate and Teacher. His role is to guide us into truth, to convince us of sin, to prompt us toward obedience, to stir us to action, and to quiet us with peace. When you think you are hearing from God, proceed with great caution. Test any “spoken” messages against God’s written record.
3. God ordains and orchestrates our circumstances to direct our steps.
Do you believe in God’s sovereignty (superiority, authority, absolute reign)? About his conversion from atheism, C.S. Lewis wrote, “I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all of England.” God’s ability to run the world without us applies when we don’t like our circumstances and when we’re afraid we’ve made a wrong decision. Because of God’s sovereignty (and His unfailing love), we can be confident that the events surrounding our lives are not random but have a redemptive purpose. When I graduated from college and interviewed in multiple cities, I was looking for just the right opportunity in a place I liked. Ultimately, I received an offer from a company in Houston, Texas, which was the only city where I didn’t want to live . . . but that decision led me to my future wife, my opportunity to start a company, and my growth in spiritual leadership. God is active in the midst of every situation!
4. God sometimes directs through other people.
It is doubtful that you will ever face a decision that no one else has ever encountered. He has designed our lives to be experienced in community. This includes the process of decision making. Scripture encourages us to draw wisdom from the counsel of wise and godly mentors. Listening to others is not a sign of weakness (i.e. I should be mature enough to figure this out on my own). On the contrary, arrogant independence is more likely than anything else to keep you from discovering God’s plans for your life (Proverbs 15:21-22).
5. God speaks to us through silence (waiting).
Scripture contains many references about waiting: “Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14) If you continue to feel disquieted and agitated about making a move, consider that God may be leading you to wait or decide “no.” When you have followed all of the other principles and still have zero visibility through your “windshield”, wait if you have the option. This certainly may not feel like guidance, yet the Bible continually instructs us not to run ahead without reason: “I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.” (Psalm 40:1). If you feel stuck or paralyzed about a decision, keep praying until your soul becomes settled. If you must make a decision before you are solidly sure–and have taken all of these steps–gather up all your knowledge and wisdom and step out. God, who knows and loves you, will weave all of your decisions into His greater purposes, even if you don’t recognize them until years from now.
Serving Him with you in the marketplace,
Lord, Help me to see past my limited ideas about how I think You are likely to lead me. The tapestry You are weaving my life into is unpredictable but compelling. You have given me, not only Your Word which is a complete body of Truth that anchors me, but Your personal tutor, the Holy Spirit, faithfully prompts me and nudges me onto Your path. You have provided wise counselors all along my way even when I find myself in uncertain circumstances. Who else or what else can I turn to for my next set of directions? There is no one like You.
“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.