By Peter Amsterdam, adapted
Have you ever been faced with important decisions and needed explicit direction, only to feel as if God was in silent mode?—Right when you would most like Him to give a precise answer? I know I have, and during those times, it’s been a spiritual struggle. Once, while struggling with a decision, I so much wanted God to make the path clear, but He, in His wisdom, chose not to give a direct answer. Instead, I needed to forge ahead to do the pick-and-shovel work of investigating options, seeking godly counsel, weighing the open doors of opportunity before me, praying desperately, and most of all, committing my ways to Him. I had to trust that He would direct my path in the manner of His choosing.
As Christians who want to glorify God through our lives, we want to learn to make decisions and choices based on godly principles. Considering options, weighing advantages and disadvantages, using our God-given wisdom, and measuring situations by God’s Word are all part of loving God with all our minds, hearts, and souls, in obedience to the first and greatest commandment. (See Matthew 22:37–40)
Part of the stress and turmoil we often face in times of decision-making is the fear of failure, the fear of missing God’s will, or the fear of making a decision that will unforeseeably have a negative impact on ourselves or others. When it comes to those important decisions that will define the course of our future, or at least our immediate future, we learn through experience that sometimes, despite our best intentions and desires, our decisions lead to unexpected negative outcomes and consequences that we have to live with.
Because God has designed us as agents with free will, we have the capability of making independent choices, and by the same token, we are personally responsible for our decisions and their outcomes, and we must take responsibility for how things play out, even if there are negative repercussions. We also have to trust that God has promised to work everything together for the good of those who love Him, no matter how things seem to turn out initially. (See Romans 8:28) He can even take our mistakes and the times when we seem to have messed up our decision-making coordinates, and redirect our course in ways that will be beneficial and lead us to His ultimate destination.
Unexpected bends in the road and unintended outcomes are part of life, no matter how wise our decisions. We see throughout the Bible how often things turned out differently than people expected or planned. When Moses set out for the Promised Land, he probably didn’t foresee wandering in the desert for 40 years. And yet, he didn’t waver or lose sight of the final destination; he kept pressing forward despite the obstacles.
Even when we make right decisions, there is no guarantee of smooth sailing for the duration of the journey. We will often continue to face pitfalls or setbacks along the way, and these are part of the human experience and often serve to strengthen our faith walk. As our heavenly Father, God knows that learning to make decisions and take responsibility for their outcome—and all the lessons we learn on that journey—are part of our spiritual growth and development.
As we commit our ways to Him and seek to please Him and do those things that are pleasing in His sight, we can have confidence in our relationship with Him; we can know that He will be present with us through all the decisions, small and great, that face us throughout our lives. (See 1 John 3:21–22)
“May the God of peace … equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him.” (Hebrews 13:20–21 NLT)
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