In this series, I want to share some truths I’ve learned from scripture about how to make decisions as a follower of Christ. God showed me most of these truths a couple years before I moved to India when I was going through a difficult time. At the time, I was struggling with indecision and uncertainty – which is really a type of bondage. And like most forms of bondage, I didn’t even realize how much it was affecting me. But I turned to God’s Word for help, and He showed me many truths. These truths have given me freedom from that bondage and have helped me move forward in confident action.
God is more interested in giving you wisdom, than in giving you the answers.
For most of my life, most of my prayer life was dominated by questions that started with “God, what should I do … ?” Whether it was, “what should I do … with my life, … about who to date, … about this circumstance or that, … this person or that,” I begged God to give me the answers.
While meditating on the Book of James, God really brought this scripture home to me:
5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach; and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, without any doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven by the wind and tossed. 7 For let that man not think that he will receive anything from the Lord. 8 He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:5-8, WEB)
Like any good parent, God would rather teach us how to find the answers for ourselves than to just hand them to us. When it comes to life decisions, that means He would rather give us the wisdom to find the answers than to tell us what to do.
In fact, he promises to give wisdom to anyone who asks. He is just waiting for us to ask. The only requirement is that once He gives us wisdom, we need to have the faith to act on it. That is hard. But that is what faith is: we continually seek him and ask for wisdom, while stepping out in faith with the wisdom he has given us so far. And that’s where this verse comes in:
21 and when you turn to the right hand, and when you turn to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way. Walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21, WEB)
I can’t tell you how many times I heard this verse, and almost subconsciously thought, “That must be some nuance of translation, surely it must mean, “BEFORE you turn to the right or the left you will hear a voice AHEAD of you, saying, ‘This is the way. Walk in it.’”
But, nope, it’s not a nuance of translation. The verse says you will hear the voice AFTER you make the turn and the voice will come from BEHIND. In other words, you don’t get the full roadmap before you take the first step. And most of the time, God doesn’t even tell you what next step to take – He wants you to use the wisdom He has given you to make the best choice you can, and then to step out in faith by doing it. The promise is that after you start seeking His wisdom and acting on it as best you can, He will confirm or correct your path along the way if necessary. That’s faith.
These simple truths are repeated throughout scripture. Solomon didn’t ask for specific instructions so that he would never have to take responsibility for a decision again. No, he asked for wisdom to make the decisions. And God was pleased.
It’s not a coincidence that this section of James follows right on the heels of these verses:
2 My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything. (James 1:2-4, NET)
Like any good parent, God wants to help his children grow to maturity. He doesn’t do that by overprotecting us. He doesn’t do it by telling us exactly what to do at every turn. Instead, He matures us as we persevere through trials and seek His wisdom along the way – and as we act on that wisdom as best we can – even if it means making a mistake. That’s how we learn and grow. That’s how we become mature and complete, which is God’s plan and desire for all of us.