(Written to an individual who was faced with making a life-changing personal decision—a marriage proposal.)
It may surprise you to know that God likes you, His child, to make your own choices within His will. As long as you delight yourself in the Lord most of all and want to do His will, it is His delight to also give you the desires of your heart, because He’s the One who puts them there when you’re pleasing Him! His Word says, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). If you love the Lord with all your heart, your personal desires are usually the right ones, because you want most of all to please Him. So your personal desires in the matter have a great deal to do with God’s will. He gives us what we want and have faith for!
But as my mother used to say, “When in doubt, don’t!” The Bible also warns us that whatever is not done in faith is sin (Romans 14:23). However, if you’re truly convinced that a certain thing is God’s will, you should do it, no matter what anybody else says. But if you’re convinced in your own heart that something is not God’s will, you shouldn’t do it, no matter what anybody says. And if you’re not sure that a thing is God’s will, then the best thing to do is to wait until the Lord reveals His will to you one way or the other.
In the meantime, don’t let anybody else tell you that some course of action is “of the Lord” and that it is okay to proceed, if He has not confirmed this to you personally. If anyone asks, just say that you’re waiting for the Lord to show you His will. Anything is possible, for with God nothing is impossible, for “all things are possible to him that believes” (Luke 1:37; Mark 9:23). However you must be personally sure, and not merely swayed by others. It must be your own personal decision, what you truly have faith for, in which case, if it were in accordance with God’s Word, it would be “of God.”
When making a major, life-changing decision such as you are doing, time is often the great tester. I’d certainly advise you to wait until you’re sure in your own mind and heart of God’s will. As Paul says, “Let each be fully convinced in his own mind” (Romans 14:5).
In affairs of the heart, I do not believe in acting merely out of a sense of duty. There must be a great deal of genuine love, personal love as well as love for God. If it’s God’s will, He gives us this kind of love, real love. Any relationship that does not have such love will likely result in heartache, and some people could get hurt—including you! But if it is real love, God’s love, it will survive anything. So if I were you, I would wait until I was sure.
In this matter of marriage, God may know you both need a companion, comforter, encourager, inspirer, and example—the kind of genuine helpmeet that God designs for His own. It could be that you have both found the will of God. But if not, it is possible that you both may miss it due to the well-meaning but misguided advice of others, or your own mistakes. Or if you do not really love each other, you may be making a great mistake to marry!
You must make your own choice. Be sure that you do not let someone else make such a decision for you. If you truly do love this person and she loves you, and if it is God’s will, nothing short of this will ever satisfy you. But the decision is up to you, and you alone. No one else can make it for you—not even God!
This is one of the mysteries of His will and His plan: He has bestowed upon each of us the immortal majesty of personal choice. And strange as it may seem to some, it even pleases the Lord to give us our personal choice between several possibilities, all within His will. It is similar to how we sometimes let our children choose a toy to buy or an activity, as long as it’s safe and good for them, and doesn’t harm others. This is one thing people don’t seem to understand about God: As our loving heavenly Father, He really likes to give us our choice.
If a previous choice did not work out well, it could be that you made a mistake at that time, perhaps because you let others overly influence your choice. Don’t let that happen again. This time, make your own choice. God will give you whatever you want, if it’s good for you, because He loves you. “No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11). If it is good for you and the others involved, He will be more than glad to give it to you. However, if we insist on making what He knows will be a bad choice, He often lets us suffer the consequences. He may give us the desires of our heart, but send leanness to our soul (Psalm 106:15).
So, contrary to common misconception, God does not usually choose for us! We have to choose for ourselves and find His will for ourselves. We have to find what is best for us through our knowledge of His Word, personal experience, and asking Him. This is why He put us here on Earth. This is what we’re here to learn and a major part of our Christian training: how to make the right decisions through our personal contact with the Lord, our knowledge of His Word and His will, and our love for Him and others. We must do what we know is right.
It comes back to the Scripture, “Let each be fully convinced in his own mind” (Romans 14:5). Be sure you’re right, then go ahead and do what you know is right, no matter what anybody says. Do it because you are personally convinced it’s God’s will, it’s according to His Word, and you have confirmed it through several other means. Best of all, pray and ask the Lord. He likes for you to seek out His will and find it, so you will know without a doubt that it’s right when you do it.
Until then, don’t! As long as you’re doubtful about a decision, don’t let anyone else pressure you to act upon it, one way or the other. He wants to give you the desires of your heart, but they must be the desires of your heart and not someone else’s—your choice and not another’s.
May God bless and keep you and continue to make you a great blessing, and may He give you every desire of your heart as you delight yourself in Him and His love! “Do not fear … for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). Your will be done in Him! That’s what He wants to know: that you’re making your own personal choice in the matter!