Talks from a conference on knowing God\’s will

You’ve probably heard of or read Kevin de Young’s book, Just Do Something.

You should read it.  It’s short and will change your mind about how to make a ‘godly’ decision.  Before I talk about it, I want to share 3 anecdotes from my own life that are probably fairly typical of how Christians act.

Before Mike and I were Christians, when we were just faithful church-attendees, we would make decisions pretty rapidly………. and then ask God to bless them.  Once we became Christians, we started on that journey of actually growing into those ‘new creations’ by being ‘transformed by the renewing’ of our minds via God’s Word.  But that was a slow process.  The very first Bible Study we ever attended was 23 years ago in Chipping Norton, England.  We had never consistently nor seriously examined God’s word.  At the time, we faced a major decision about Mike’s job and the financial stakes seemed very scary.  We prayed at length for guidance.  We eventually made a decision in the absence of FEELING God’s guiding hand.  I remember how for years after I would boast that though we had repeatedly asked God for a sign, He had never come through.  My boast had the kind of tone of ‘what’s wrong with God that He wouldn’t respond to such a sincere and Godly prayer!!!’

Fast forward to our older son Graham and a life decision he faced the spring of his freshman year.  Should he stay at his college or transfer to a famous music school?  His grandfather would have paid the difference, so money was no object.  It was the first serious decision he made as a new Christian.  I, frankly, was curious how God would answer that. To me it seemed that the stakes were high because Graham’s faith was nascent.  His technique was to try out each scenario in his mind’s eye and see how he felt.  As he flip-flopped his way through the days after receiving his acceptance, he finally got angry with God and gave him an ultimatum.  (I’m not sure WHAT he saidJ )  But the next day, he woke up FEELING Choice A – Stay and just left it alone, with some suspicion.  But the following day, the sense to go with Choice A had grown silently stronger.  So he opted to remain at his current college and turned down the music opportunity.  It was obviously the right choice, because he married his wife Shay, plugged into a church, launched a career and the rest is another story.

My last example had to do with leaving a teaching position.  I truly wanted to wait on the Lord and not do anything ‘out of His will’, so my intentions were A-OK.  And by this time, after 10 years of serious Bible study and growth, I truly had grown into the new creation that I was positionally.  But I did not know how God would let me know ‘His Will For My Life’.

When a senior colleague announced to me that ‘next year I would have to toe the line with her foreign language philosophy of teaching’ I knew instantly that I had received my sign from God, because what she was suggesting was 100 % unacceptable to me.  But when I told my Christian friends, two of them straight away assured me that the way to know if the decision was right was if one had a sense of peace.

Looking back at these three decisions, I realize that many Christians ( I don’t think I’m alone in this) look for

a)   A direct communication or sign from God

b)   And/or a feeling of peace

According to Kevin de Young and Dr. Garry Friesen, those are NOT biblical.  I have read Kevin’s book twice in the past 2 years, but recently I listened to the talks that are hyperlinked at the beginning of this blog post.  What they teach is VERY FREEING!

Their talks revealed to me that when we camp on our need for a sign, it really is a decoy for our lack of trust in God and our FEAR of making wrong decisions.  According to these pastors, decision-making is not rocket science for the Christian.  In summary here are the steps one should take:

a)   We should look at our heart’s desire and our talents & gifts.  What do we WANT to do?   It makes sense to start there.

b)   Make sure that what we propose does not violate the moral will of God (doesn’t go against His commands).  This involves more than just the Ten Commandments.  We have to study and meditate on what God says throughout the entire Bible.  Therefore, it makes sense that Paul counsels us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.  This is NOT a quick step, but a life process.

c)    Where God does NOT prohibit, then we should enjoy the liberty He gives us and act responsibly.

d)   Make sure that the proposal is WISE and PRUDENT.  It is scriptural to pray and ask God for wisdom.  We should read the ‘wisdom’ books of the Bible.  We should ask godly mature Christians who know us for their advice.  What do they see in us?  Do they think what we are proposing is a good fit with our talents?

e)    We should pray, NOT for guidance, but to be godly and wise, courageous and honest when we take the next step TOWARD a decision.

f)     If we have a choice between two equally good courses of action, we need to ask ourselves this question:  Which one will make us love God and love others more?

g)    Finally, once we move out and make a decision, we are to continue to trust God that He will work all things together for our good (that is: our sanctification).  The grace will be sufficient for each future day.  Anxiety is living out the future before it gets here.

I was comforted to hear that problems and obstacles and lack of peace are NOT signs that we made the wrong decision.  That is part of life.  Dr. Friesen talked about expecting to make at least FIVE mistakes a day.  Whew!  What a freeing idea.  I realize that I expect perfect, problem-free days.  Talk about unrealistic pressure!

You’ll enjoy listening to the talks.  I downloaded them to my iPod, but you can listen on line just as well.

May God give you godly courage and a willingness to make some mistakes while you risk big, adventuresome and fun things for the glory of God!