in pursuit of critical and compassionate living and thought. in surrender to courage & delight of Christ.
Decisions can be scary. Big decisions can be scarier.
Right now I’ve been given quite a few to make, as this season often does for many of us. (We can do it!) Big decisions require special care beyond God-given wisdom and common sense. Here are some thoughts on how we can makes these big decisions well:
1. Realize the gift of decisions. I know sometimes we do get stuck between a rock and a hard place, but even so, these opportunities to exercise freedom, judgement, wisdom, and to choose how we live in any small (or even difficult) way is exactly that: an opportunity, a privilege! Gratefulness brings peace to the process. “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Corinthians 4:7). “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free,” (Galatians 5:1).
2. Realize the responsibility of decisions. You have a responsibility to yourself. To respecting your worth, dignity, skills and talents; your need for growth, challenge, and healing. Your responsibility to yourself is a responsibility to others, to the world. Humble yourself to the thought that you are part of the world’s fabric. “Therefore, brothers and sisters, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fail,” (2 Peter 1:10). “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control,” (2 Timothy 1:7). “Do not neglect your gift, which was given you…,” (1 Timothy 4:14). “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people…,” (Galatians 6:10).
3. Realize you are not your own. Brother, sister, “You don’t you know you were bought for a price?” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). This means you have a responsibility to trust your Maker in faith. It also means that your good and Almighty God holds you, carries you, guides you through decisions. He will never fail you. Trust Him and submit your anxieties to Him: Let go of your perfect outcome, and let God guide you in making decisions directed by faith. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,” (Hebrews 11:1).
4. Ask lots of questions. Get as much information on your decision as you can – do this proactively. Get clarity on choices. Ask questions about yourself. What are you afraid of in this decision? What are you biased towards and why? “An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge,” (Proverbs 18:15).
5. Pray. Pray, pray, pray some more. Pray in quiet murmurings, submitting the thoughts of the decision to the presence of the Lord because He understands and intercedes. Pray your urgent, panicked fits of desperation because He cares. Pray with a silent, attentive, listening ear because He gives peace and guidance. Pray confidently with intentional, diligent, specific requests because He surprises us in our doubting and delights in our trust. Pray around the decision – not just for the decision itself but for yourself as you navigate it, for others, for your future, for increased wisdom, for sanctification through the decision during and after – because He gives us decisions because He cares about us and the world much much more than the decision itself. Pray praise for your choices and good guidance because He is so very good to us! Pray with an open hand because He knows better. Father, may your Holy Spirit guide us through our thoughts, desires and choices to “Make the Way!” for you in our hearts and minds, that we may follow in your path.
6. Soak it in God’s Word. In decision time and others, “the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any two-edged sword, it pierces even to dividing the soul and spirit…It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart,” (Hebrew 4:12). If you are not already reading your Bible regularly, now is a great time to start! Not only does it contain wisdom on making big, hairy, scary decisions, it also changes you, equips you, and draws you closer to God (and these things, of course, will help you make them!). Reading your Bible is like a conversation with God, whose words towards you are breathes of fresh air, honey to your soul. To keep its words in your heart is to keep a sword in your hand against fear, temptation, shame, and discouragement. You will need that making and following through on those big decisions! “Let the high praises of God be in your mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand!” (Psalm 149:6).
7. Include & seek counsel from others. Go out and ask for the prayers and input of people with wisdom, discernment, knowledge of you, and many different perspectives or biases. Gather, gather, gather these words like clues in a big mystery. Humbly listen to others. Ask people to follow-up with you to keep you from avoiding the decision or making it by throwing your hands up in the air. Let others share in the good God does through decisions. Ever notice how often Paul’s letters to the church start with something like, “I thank my God every time I remember you?” What a gift to others to let them join us in God’s work through us, and see His faithfulness in our lives right through the nitty gritty and fog, and to celebrate with us after! “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel,” (Proverbs 12:15). “In the abundance of counselors there is victory,” (Proverbs 11:14).
8. Revisit your priorities & God’s priorities. Decisions can put us in a tailspin over what new opportunities and challenges present to us. Remind yourself what is most important for your growth and stewardship in this season. Remind yourself of what you’ll regret valuing and investing in at the end of your life. Remind yourself: God’s will for your life is that you be saved and sanctified, that your life be a living example by which others may be led to saving grace and life-giving sanctification, and that we give thanks in all circumstances along the way. “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified,” (1 Thessalonians 4:3). “Give thanks in every circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus,” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life,” (John 6:40).
9. Close the deal on peace. Do you have peace in a choice? Then make that one. Note, peace is not the same as ease, comfort, apathy or ambivalence, or happiness. Peace is a rest in your soul that things are just and right even when you may not understand them completely. Peace is fragrance and footprint of Christ, your Peacemaker. Its a marker for the lost. Follow that path! “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled; do not be afraid,” (John 14:27). “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you,” (Deuteronomy 31:8).
10. MAKE THAT DECISION! Delayed decisions often result in: disobedience, missed blessings, regret, and new, harder decisions. Do your best to have peace and clarity on a decision before you make it, but respect the timeliness of the decision. Don’t avoid, run, default, delay, or come short on follow-through. If there’s no specific timeline or deadline you’re facing, discern making one. You may not know why this has come up now. Do your best, then commit in confidence.
“Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it,” (Ezra 10:4).
He’s got you. You can do it. To Him be the glory.