How many times have you wished that God would write out the answer to your decision in the clouds? When it comes to making difficult choices, we all need help from above. If skywriting is asking too much, couldn’t God send us some kind of sign? The job seems perfect for my skills and passion, but the pay will force us to move. The best candidate seems too good to be true . . . maybe I’m missing something. Critical choices require greater clarity and can generate insecurity.
Jacob always did whatever it took to make sure things went his way and was permanently crippled after wrestling with God (Genesis 32). Gideon was a “man of valor” yet 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 often wrote about his decision to visit this place or that— “if the Lord permits” or “if it seems advisable” and noted that the Holy Spirit sometimes prevented or compelled him (Acts 23). God doesn’t leave us alone with our choices and promises to guide us as we determine what to do next.Proverbs 3:5-7 may be familiar but is not always easy: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” (NLT)
1. God speaks to us through the Bible. God’s primary voice is the gift of His written Word. When God’s Word goes forth things happen: “Let there be light!” “Follow me.” “It is finished!” As we meditate on the whole storyline of Scripture, we will discover many clear principles and a number of directives that help with good decision making. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).
2. God’s Spirit helps us decipher His will. The Holy Spirit lives within every believer and is present to guide, convince, comfort and stir us . . . sometimes all in one day. He also serves as Counselor, Advocate, Companion and Teacher. How attentive are you to the Spirit within you? We must test our impressions to be sure they line up with God’s Word but Isaiah 30 is full of promises for those who come to God and wait for help: “He will be gracious if you ask for help. He will surely respond to the sound of your cries . . . Your own ears will hear him, Right behind you a voice will say ‘This is the way you should go,’ whether to the right or to the left.”
3. God directs our steps by orchestrating our circumstances. After college I interviewed in multiple cities for just the right opportunity, but only received an offer in the one city where I didn’t want to live. Looking back, that open door led me to my future wife, the opportunity to start a company, and growth in spiritual leadership. Do you believe in God’s superiority, authority and absolute reign? God is both sovereign and good, so we can be confident that our lives are not random and will serve His redemptive purposes. As the Psalmist said, “I will praise your mighty deeds, O Sovereign Lord. I will tell everyone that you alone are just” (71:16).
4. God sometimes directs us through people. It is doubtful that you will ever face a decision that no one else has ever encountered. God has designed us to live in community, which includes the process of decision making. Scripture encourages us to draw wisdom from godly mentors. Asking for advice from others is not a sign of weakness. On the contrary, arrogant independence is more likely to prevent you from discovering God’s plans (Proverbs 15:22-23).
5. God may direct you through His silence. Scripture contains many references to waiting for God to speak or act: “Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14). “O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1). When you have followed these principles and still have zero visibility, just wait if you have the option.
That may not feel like guidance, yet the Bible continually warns not to run ahead without reason. If you feel agitated or paralyzed about a decision, keep praying until your soul becomes settled. If you reach a deadline and are still uncertain, gather up all of your knowledge and wisdom and make the best choice you can. You can trust God to weave it into His purposes, which you may not fully recognize until years from now.
Serving Him with you in the marketplace,
Dear Lord, Help me to see past my limited ideas about how you are leading me today. The tapestry of my life may be unpredictable to me but is unfolding through you. You have given me your Word which anchors me, and a tutor, Who faithfully nudges me onto Your path and keeps me heading the right way. You have provided wise men and women throughout my life. Where else would I turn but to You? Today I will trust that you are at work all around me. Amen.
“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” Martin Luther King, Jr.