Do I do this or do that?
“Which choice is better?” is one kind of question and it is a good one to ask as you weigh the options and consider the choices logically. I always advise doing this sort of logical thinking. For important decisions it is good to consider your options with someone you trust. I also know that your intellect is God given and I assume that reasoning helps solve many issues.
But then there are other times when you feel like what you really face is not merely whether to go to Shoney’s or Cracker Barrel after church. It is something which is more important and for life-changing decisions, we really need God’s will rather than our own. So what is God’s will?
In some cases this will be evident by God’s Word. If you are considering adultery or murder, God has already been quite clear about those and you are just trying to justify a wrong action with some complicated argument that will not likely convince even yourself, much less anyone else.
When the problem is less clear, such as whether to take one job or another, there are a few time-tested options. First, last and in between, pray. Really hand the decision over to God and ask for God’s will to happen.
One way of praying for this I have found to be powerful is to truly trust God and ask for the wrong doors to be closed and the right ones to open. This is not as easy as it sounds, because this is not The Price Is Right and we are not equally attached to all options. But if you want to get at God’s will for you, you do need to really give it to God and really open yourself up to the possibility that God will close off the direction you prefer.
The other downside to this approach is that discovering God’s will never seems to happen on my timetable. Sometimes nothing happens for months, while I wonder if my house was built with a special prayer-deflecting ceiling. But even in that case, I keep praying and keep trying options, trusting God to close the wrong paths and only open the right one. Sometimes what I thought or hoped was a wrong option opens up right away.
Yet, I have seen these prayers do amazing things. Not only will a sure thing suddenly go away, but sometimes what looked like a wall, becomes a wide open doorway as God makes a path where none existed before.
One wrong turn in discerning God’s will is to take something you get into your head to do and decide that God told you to do it. I’m not saying that God can’t speak to you. Not only would I be out of a job if that were true, but I have also experienced God speaking to me both in a still small voice of my conscious being nudged and in something more akin to a two by four to the forehead.
What I mean is don’t let an idea that comes to you alone become God’s revealed Word to you. God doesn’t work that way. Human pride works like that. So no matter how wonderful or even godly the idea sounds, don’t assume what came into your head, even in prayer, came there from God.
Instead, take an idea you think is of God and test it. Ask some trusted Christian friends to pray with you about it. Listen to the council of trusted spiritual advisers. And mostly listen for God to confirm it.
I find that God speaks in stereo and is extremely good at confirming something through various means. You will have someone say something in passing, and then hear something else on TV, and yet something else in a sermon or Bible reading and all of it will confirm what God is speaking to your heart. That is then much more likely to be God’s will.
Finally, you will know it is God’s will when you set out on that path and face some obstacles and find unlikely help and support that gets you through the problems. Then you can look back and say God was in it. Sometimes God will, in this way, confirm the path that is less enticing, more difficult to imagine, but God's will nonetheless.
If as you have read this post some dilemma in your life has come to mind, begin to turn it over to God in prayer. Don’t ask for your will but for God’s. Let go of your timetable and your solutions and ask for God to close the wrong path and open the right one. Then keep praying. If it is of God, a way will be opened and that path will be confirmed. If it is not God’s will, you won’t want it to work out anyway.
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor