One of the biggest challenges I face as a single mom and small business owner is being a confident decision-maker. Yes, I have friends and family with whom to discuss major decisions, but ultimately, the buck stops with me. If I make the wrong choice, I have no one to blame but myself. At times, the weight of this burden is a heavy one.
This week I read Numbers 9–the story of how God led His people in the wilderness. It was a very simple system. The cloud of God’s presence stayed over the Tabernacle until He wanted the Israelites to move. When the cloud moved, they followed. When it stopped, they set up camp.
I found myself wishing for such a system for my decision-making.
“Lord, if You could just hover a cloud over the heads of a potential daycare family to show me whether I should accept this application, that would be great. And perhaps a little circle of fog around the next appliance I need to buy to indicate if it’s going to be a good deal, or break down in a few months? Oh, and my son is really wondering what he should choose as his minor in college. How about a little cloud icon next to the classes he should take?”
As I pondered the likelihood of getting an affirmative answer to my prayer, God brought to mind an outline I have kept since Bible college. Pulling out my old study Bible, I flipped to the middle pages, where I had copied down the sermon notes from a chapel message preached at Northland Baptist Bible College, about 20 years ago.
The words were such a blessing to me that I want to share them with you. I failed to write down the name of the preacher in my notes, so if any of my readers know who it was, let me know! 🙂 (The points in bold are taken directly from the outline; they are not my own.)
Five Guiding Lights to know the Will of God:
1. Instruction of the Scriptures: Discipline
As believers, the first place we should seek wisdom for the decisions we face is the Word of God. And of course this requires daily discipline to make a time and place for this to happen.
Perhaps you feel the Bible is a bit outdated to help you make decisions in today’s world? True, you won’t find a chapter and verse on whether you should buy the blue house or the brown house, but you will find principles in the Word of God to guide you. The book of Proverbs abounds with financial, relational, and ethical principles, just to name a few. As you pour over the pages of Scripture each day, you will find wisdom to aid you in making daily decisions, even in today’s world.
2. Intent of the heart: Desires
God often guides us by placing desires into our hearts. Ask anyone involved in ministry, and they will tell you that God planted the seeds of desire in their hearts quite some time before He placed them in that ministry. Perhaps your heart burns when you see certain needs around you, or you have abundant joy when you participate in a particular work. Pay attention to these desires, as God may be leading you through them.
On a personal note, I feel such fulfillment in writing, in sharing the things God has taught me with others. Each weekday, I use my “break” (while my daycare kiddos are napping) to write what God has put on my heart. Why would I do this? Because I’ve found what He wants me to do, and instead of draining my strength, it energizes me. God took my desire to write and used it to guide me into a ministry to encourage others, many of whom I will never meet.
3. Input of authority: Directives
God has placed spiritual authorities into our lives for a reason–He uses them to impart wisdom to us. Perhaps you have been praying and searching God’s Word for answers, but you are still unsure of what God wants you to do. Go to a trusted spiritual leader and seek counsel. Of course, ensure they are true seekers of God themselves, who will give you honest answers, not merely what you want to hear.
4. Indications of circumstances: Discernment
God uses circumstances–what may appear as coincidences to the unsearching heart–to help guide us. When you have been earnestly seeking God as you search for answers regarding a decision, nothing is more exciting than when God closes or opens doors of circumstance to show you exactly what to do.
This happened to our family a couple years ago when we moved back to America from Australia and were searching for a house. Time after time, God closed doors until He led us to exactly the right house, in exactly the right place, for exactly the right price. That, my friend, was NOT a coincidence!
5. Impulse of the Spirit of God: Discretion
I believe this point may be the most important, because to hear the still, small voice of the Spirit of God whispering to us, we must be fully surrendered to Him. It would be easy enough to take these five steps and twist them around to make the choice we want to make.
I could use Scripture to back up my decision to buy a new sports car. (Haven’t you ever heard of Jehu driving his chariot furiously?)
I could use the desires of my heart to move to Hawaii. (In my heart there’s a burning desire to lay on a sandy beach!)
I could seek the counsel I want, not the counsel I need. (It really isn’t that difficult to find someone to agree with me, after all!)
I could use my circumstances to back up a decision that isn’t wise. (There’s a sale at Dress Barn…definitely a sign from God that I need to update my wardrobe!)
However, if we are fully surrendered to God’s Spirit, when we want what He wants for us, then He will use all these things together to guide us in every decision we need to make.
He will show us exactly the right verse to guide us.
He will place God-given desires into our hearts.
He will send Godly counsel through those around us.
He will orchestrate circumstances to show us what to do.
His Spirit will speak to ours through that still, small voice of peace, reserved for His children who are fully surrendered to His will.
With all these things God has given us, it seems we won’t need that hovering cloud after all. 🙂
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6