Decisions

The root word from which we get our English word “decide” comes from the latin cis. It originally meant to cut or kill. Isn’t it still true? When I have to make a decision, I realize one has to die. I have to reject one and embrace the other. For that reason, decisions are hard for me. I prefer to be presented with two choices, not ten from which to choose one. More than once I had to make a decision that would impact my future and my family. The bigger the decision, the more tentative I become. In Isaiah 42:16, God gives the promise of His guidance. I choose to trust God’s guidance over my own in the decision making process.

I will lead the blind by a way they do not know, in paths they do not know I will guide them, I will make darkness into light before them and rugged places into plains.   These are the things I will do, and I will not leave them undone.  Isaiah 42: 16

This is one of the most remarkable promises in the Bible. It is precious to those of us who know it and have needed it at various points in our lives. Consider with me the precious riches of this promise.

First, the basis of this promise rests entirely on God Himself. 

Five times God affirms His determination to fulfill this promise. I will lead the blind. I will guide them. I will make darkness into light. I will do it.  I will not leave them undone. There are some promises in the Bible that are conditioned upon our obedience. This promise rests entirely on the grace of God. He shoulders the complete responsibility of bringing it to pass. That gives me confidence that God will help me when I don’t know which way to choose. He will show me which way needs to be dead to me and the way that He wants me to take, even if that way seems difficult and fraught with danger.

Second, this is a promise made to the helpless.  

How helpless were those to whom the promise was made? He calls them the blind. We might call this spiritual blindness, but it is also physical blindness. It is the blindness we face when confronted by one of the passages of life or by some major life decision. I find it is not failure to say, “I don’t know which way to turn.” It is an acknowledgement of the truth that we all face because of who we are and the limits of human knowledge. I am blind to the future, whether it is the near or distant future.  I don’t know what is around the corner of my life.  Walking by faith is essentially walking blind, admitting our absolute and utter dependence on God.  

Third, this is the promise of God’s leadership.

The question in my mind, more often than not, is: “How will I get from where I am to where God wants me to be.”  The more I ask that question, the more I begin to look down the familiar roads of God’s leadership.  I begin to think, “Well this is how God worked before.  Perhaps this is the way God will work again.”  I look for God’s activity in ways that I have known it in the past—ways with which I am comfortable—because of prior experience.

Here, God promises to lead but by a way that is new to us.  Not only is it new to us, it is completely unknown to us.  More often than not, God’s leadership comes to us in ways we don’t expect. It takes us by surprise.

How will you get from where you are, to where God wants you to be?  You have God’s promise that He will lead you. When you have God’s promise, that is all you need. You don’t need a road map. All you need is Him! In the study Experiencing God, Henry Blackaby said, “If you follow Jesus one day at  a time, you will always be right in the center of His will. For me, that was one of the greatest discoveries of my life. However, I still must trust Jesus and His wisdom over my own.

Fourth, it includes the promise of God’s presence.

A leader may only point the way. A guide is someone who walks with you in the way.  A leader points you in the right direction and leaves you to go there on your own. A guide ensures you make it there safely by placing on Himself the responsibility for your journey. How will you make it from where you are to where God wants you to be? Wait on God and His leadership. Don’t worry or fret when you don’t know the way.  God is your guide and He will not leave you until He has done what He promised you.  

Fifth, God accepts full responsibility for the risks involved in following Him.  

There will be dark places, and there will be rugged places.  During those times, it isn’t up to you to provide light in the dark or to make the rugged smooth.  Your responsibility is simply to keep walking when the way is dark, and to keep trusting when the way is rough.  As you face these difficulties with your trust in Him, God will make a way where there seems to be no way. Remember, Jesus promised, “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

If you are standing on the verge of some life-changing decision, it is my prayer that the God who made this promise will reveal His plan in the midst of your circumstances. I pray that you might know His presence with you, even as you read these words. Trust Him! I have followed His leadership for over forty years. Many times I have failed Him, but He has never failed me!

Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi

The Way You Should Choose

Who is the man who fears the Lord? He will instruct Him in the way he should choose. Psalm 25:12

This is just one of many examples of God’s willingness to guide you in your life journey. Perhaps you are seeking God’s will for your life. How would you ever come to know what it is He wants you to do?

Early in my personal journey, I was tentative about following God. Not only was I not sure I knew how to discern the will of God, I was genuinely afraid of knowing what it was. What if God wanted me to do something that made me unhappy? What if His guidance was in direct opposition to my own personal goals?

Down through the years, I lost my fear of following God. I learned that God always has my best interest at heart. My moments of greatest fulfillment have been moments when I acted in obedience to the will of God. Now, instead of being afraid to follow, my greatest fear is of missing God’s guidance or making decisions without His direction. I trust God to know what lies ahead. Make no mistake, there will always be some cost in following God, but the cost of disobedience is far greater.

Each of us comes to a moment I call The Crisis of Decision.You will inevitably come to a crossroad in your life when you will have to choose which way to go. You may be choosing between two roads or trying to figure out which road of many is the road God wants you to travel. A person facing the crisis of decision needs guidance from God. Human wisdom will not answer this question. Human counselors can offer no insight or guidance in the face of this decision.

You might be on the front end of your life trying to discern God’s guidance in the matter of a career. You might be in mid-life struggling to know God’s leadership about a job change. You might be a retired person seeking God’s guidance about relocating to be near your children. You might be faced with a decision about treatment options regarding your health. All of these decisions bring a person to a moment of crisis. How will you know the way you should choose?

A person facing the crisis of decision is also facing the Crisis of Direction. A person who fears the Lord has a sincere desire to know the right way. Here it says the Lord will show him the way he should choose.

I found it interesting that this particular word translated choosecan refer to either a divine choice or a human choice. In every decision, God gives you the freedom to choose your own way. He will never force His will upon your life. However, a person who fears the Lord, leaves this decision to the Him. God has given me the freewill to choose, but if I am wise, I know that my life will be better if I choose God’s choice over my own. Jesus struggled with God’s direction in the Garden of Gethsemane. As he prayed there, He realized the agony of the cross was just ahead. He prayed that God might release him from that assignment. However, He also prayed, “yet not My will, but Yours be done.” Luke 22:42

God gives you the freedom to choose, but He wants you to choose the way of His will. How do you know God’s will? It will not be immediately apparent. It will not simply unfold in the course of living. The person who experiences the crisis of direction is the person who fears the Lord. The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him, and He will make them know His covenant. Psalm 25:14

God’s will for your life is a divine secret. That secret is not within my power to know. It is up to the Lord to make it known. God’s will is hidden from the viewpoint of the natural man and the natural mind. But God reveals His will to those who fear Him.

The crisis of direction is that moment you come before God asking for His wisdom. Like Jesus, you are surrendering your own will in favor of His plan for your life. Many years ago, my life was impacted by the story of one man’s effort to know the will of God. His name was Everette Howard. He sensed that God might have a plan for his life. He went inside the church where his father was pastor. He took a pen and paper and knelt at the altar of the church. On his paper, he wrote promises of all the things he was willing to do for God. It was his list. He signed his name at the bottom of the paper and laid it at the altar. I suppose he expected thunder or lightning or some other sign of approval from God. Instead, there was only silence. After a time of waiting, God impressed upon his heart to do something different. So he tore up the paper he had written. Then he took a blank sheet of paper and signed his name at the bottom. From that moment forward, He trusted God to fill it in. That is the crisis of direction. It is that moment when you surrender up your life to the will of God even without knowing what it is. Are you willing to offer your life to God as a blank sheet of paper, allowing Him to write the story of your life?

The person who fears the Lord trusts God’s wisdom above his or her own. I am always amazed by the story of Abraham and Lot as they parted company. Abraham allowed Lot to choose the part of the land he wanted. In so doing, Abraham was releasing his life to God’s choice for him. Whatever God wanted for him, was what he wanted for himself and his family. Can you leave the choice up to God?

Finally, comes the Crisis of Discovery. How can a person truly know the will of God? This may especially concern you if you don’t consider yourself to meet the qualifications. You may feel unworthy to ask God for direction or to receive it. You feel disqualified from discovering the will of God. In the wake of that, this psalm has some good news for those of us who may feel disqualified or in some other way inhibited from being in a positon to know the will of God

If I am to know His will it must be by His Grace. “Good and upright is the Lord, therefore He instructs sinners in the way.”  Psalm 25:8 The very next verse says, “He teaches the humble His way.” Psalm 25:9

Never should you approach God with any sense of deserving His guidance. All of us are unworthy. We are the blind groping for His hand to lead us. Should He so choose to show us the way of His will, it will be by His grace. Acknowledge your personal sinfulness before the Lord. Admit your former rebellion against His will and His way. Repent (tell God you are sorry) and offer up your life to God in absolute surrender, with no strings attached.

Let me give you this word of wisdom. If you come to know the will of God, it must come by a way of His choosing. In Psalm 25:12, the Hebrew word, translated instruct, comes from a word that means to shoot as an archer would shoot an arrow. When I discovered the root meaning of that word, I immediately thought of Jonathan’s signal to David that it was time to leave the house of Saul. How did he let him know?  He shot an arrow. The arrow was a signal, a sign. (I Samuel 18:20ff)

God will instruct you, but it will be by way of God’s choosing. He will show you, but you will not know until you see that arrow of direction that God shoots your way. Something will transpire that will serve as your sign, your signal. I can assure you, you will know that moment when it comes. For Moses, the crisis of discovery came at a burning bush. For David, that moment came when Samuel showed up at his house to anoint him king. Many times, my discovery of the will of God came at a simple moment that turned into a Divine Appointment when I clearly knew that God was speaking to me. 

In your quest to know God’s will, be assured of this: Who is the man who fears the Lord? He will instruct Him in the way he should choose. Psalm 25:12

Photo by Vladislav Babienko