Decide to be Challenged

As a Christian, when I’m faced with a decision, I pray for guidance. Sometimes God answers quickly and clearly—a decisive “Do this!” or “Go there!” That was the type of answer we received 26 years ago, when we God told us to move from California to Colorado. Wanting to make sure we were hearing correctly, we asked for Him to confirm his direction at least three times in the next week or so. We received six signs in three days. With that kind of verification, all we could do was obey!

Sometimes He tells me no. That’s helpful too. Should I accept this job offer? No. Should I eat that brownie? No! (Darn.) I may not always like being told no, but at least there’s no confusion about it.

But sometimes, it seems as if He doesn’t answer at all. I ask for guidance and hear silence. Now what?

It could be that I’m not really listening for the answer. I’m distracted and not hearing His voice. Or perhaps I already have a strong opinion about the situation, and I’m tuning out God’s direction because I don’t like what He’s saying. It could be too soon to make that decision, and God is telling me to wait for His timing.

Or, maybe God is letting me make my own decision. When Pete graduated from college, he received three good job offers. (That’s what happens when you have a practical major.) We prayed and listened, and really, any of them would have been fine with us. But God didn’t pick which one Pete should take. He didn’t say anything at all.

So we looked at the salaries, the amount of travel expected, and the working conditions—and picked the one we thought Pete would enjoy the most. And it worked out fine.

I believe most of our decisions fall into this last category. It doesn’t matter which option we choose, as long as we approach the decision from a Godly perspective. Obviously we shouldn’t take a job that requires us to lie, make a decision that goes against Scripture. But when all else is more or less equal, and we’ve prayed and listened, we have the freedom to choose.

challenge1My natural inclination has always been to pick the choice that makes me (and those I love) happiest. I bet most of us do that. Then I was challenged by an amazing friend of ours who does things a bit differently when God gives him free rein. All other things being equal, instead of looking at a decision from a self-centered viewpoint, he tries to determine which option will stretch his faith the most—and then he picks that one!

Whoa. That sounds scary. I want to be safe, but safety doesn’t challenge my faith. I want to have plenty of money, but God wants me to depend on Him. I want a nice house, a functioning car, toys to play with—but are those God’s priorities?

This is not the same thing as putting God to the test. Scripture is clear that we aren’t to do that; for example, Jesus didn’t force God’s hand by jumping from the highest point of the temple (see Luke 4:1-15). Don’t miss the part about “all other things being equal” !

Rather, we shouldn’t put ourselves first when making a decision, but instead consider God’s desires and our opportunity for spiritual growth.

This is how our friend and his wife have ended up heavily involved in a church in inner-city Chicago. Moreover, he continues to work on a life-long project that has no assurance of financial return. Are they happy? Well, they have fewer goodies than many Americans, but they’re among the most mature, vibrant believers we’ve ever met, and they exude joy. I’d say it was a good trade!

The next time God lets me make a decision, I intend to look at the situation from His perspective instead of my own. Instead of seeking security and comfort, I want to make the choice that will advance His Kingdom and bring me closer to Him.

 

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