I was taking a Sunday afternoon nap. Sound asleep, I was suddenly jarred awake by a little white ball of fur leaping on my bed. My dog, Belle, did a quick circle and then hopped back down and literally ran out the door. I settled down for a moment or two before she returned, this time making her way up to my pillow and laying down right above my head, panting madly.
I knew she was trying to tell me something, but I could not figure out what it was. The other night, she had acted similarly during a storm, but this particular afternoon the weather was clear and, to my knowledge, nothing else traumatic was going on. What was she trying to tell me? When I asked her what was wrong, she didn’t magically speak to me but instead just stared at me, as if trying to send a message with those dark brown eyes.
Trying to understand what she was trying to tell me felt a little like trying to understand what God is trying to tell me about a specific decision sometimes. Sometimes I just want to say, “God, how about if you send a lone bolt of lightening for YES and big loud thunderclap for NO?” Wouldn’t that be nice?
Unfortunately, it is a rare occasion that God makes the answer to a decision extremely clear, but–on the bright side– there are some good biblical principles to follow which will help us discern the right direction–
1) What does the Bible say? Search the scriptures and discern everything God’s Word has to say about what you are agonizing over. You may have to do a generalized search. For example, if you are trying to decide about a new house or car, then search God’s Word for everything you can find about material wealth and our attitude towards it. If you are married and trying to decide about a business lunch with an attractive co-worker, then find all the passages you can on marriage and falling into adultery.
2) Obey what you know. There are some basics in God’s Word that we know we are to do: The Ten Commandments, loving God with all our hearts, loving others as we love ourselves, submitting to our husbands, loving our wives, submitting to our bosses, praying for our leaders. Let’s obey in the areas that are clear, so that we will be in right relationship with God and will be better able to understand the Holy Spirit’s guidance in the areas that are unclear.
3) Examine your motives. Is this decision all about me? Am I concerned with my feelings, my experience, my life, at the cost of anybody else’s?
4) Think about the outcome. What will be the fruit of this decision? Will it mean being in debt? Will it put you far away from family? Will this damage your reputation? Will this decision be a detriment to your relationship with Christ or others? Just spend a few minutes contemplating the fruit of the decision.
And if you do all of that and you still don’t know, I’ll tell you what I do: I pick a path and start walking, all the while praying that the Lord will close the doors if I didn’t pick the right one. He is faithful! He does show us which way we should go when we are in fellowship with Him; when we truly desire to please Him more than fulfilling our own selfish desires.
So much confusion and strife results when I make a decision based on what I want…when I live my life based on my desires and ambitions. I know this, because I have done it many times and continue to struggle with this.
Life can be tough and we rarely, if ever, get a message from God telling us what to do. But, thankfully, we have His Word as a guide and His promise to care for us. This is great comfort in the midst of making a decision.
I Peter 5: 6-11 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.