It is said that our God works in mysterious ways, and my experience has certainly confirmed that, but Satan is not so mysterious. He is quite obvious in fact; the problem is that we’ve really stopped looking for him altogether. Many of us have simply neglected the reality of Satan in our everyday lives. We’ve tried to live lives full of decisions that have not been made with the kind of scrutiny that they should. I say we, because I assume that I’m not the only one going through this right now. I assume that it is just as difficult for you to make a good decision as it is for me.
No, I’m not talking about deciding what you’re going to eat today, although that is a challenging issue for most people, I’m talking about real life decisions. When the question at hand will mean big changes for everyone. When the question at hand will most likely hurt some people. And especially when the question at hand is one that includes both changes and emotions.
How do we know what we should do, when the decision we have in front of us seems too big for us to make?
It’s likely that Satan will try to confuse you in a variety of ways, and distract you from the decision at hand. It is likely that he will attempt to discourage you from making the best decision possible by trying to get you to believe lies like, “You aren’t good enough,” “Someone else would be better at this,” or “It doesn’t matter what you pick, YOU are the problem.” Satan has only one agenda, he has come to steal, kill, and destroy.
If you find yourself feeling robed of the identity that you were given in Christ Jesus, you will have a hard time making a good decision. If you start to think that there is no more future, regardless of your decision, you will have a hard time making a good decision. If you find yourself ruining relationships because of the stress of the situation, you will have a hard time making a decision.
These are only some of the situations I have found myself in when I was on the verge of making a big decision. Don’t let Satan distract you from the source of your strength, and the light to your path.
It may seem a little cliché for me to say that Christ is the key to making a good decision in any life situation, but it really is true. I think the decision making process can be broken down into three distinct practices.
When these three practices are present, the likelihood of making good decisions goes up, and the tendency of being distracted or discouraged by Satan’s lies is lowered.
Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
One thing that I say to my students (probably more than I should) is, “I’ll pray about it.” They assume that it means “no,” but that’s not actually the case. In many cases, I really want to put it before the Lord. I want to reflect on the subject for a period of time so that I can begin to weigh options, and consider outcomes. I want to see the issue from a variety of angles, and navigate some of the ins and outs presented by the decision.
So really, I don’t mean I’m just going to pray about it one time and see what comes to mind, that’s not the essence of Biblical prayer. Biblical prayer is made up of a lifestyle of conversation with the Lord that includes a variety of different things like; confession, praise, worship, requests, etc. When a person is engaged in this kind of ongoing conversation with the Holy Spirit, any particular issue that comes up is simply mixed into the overall Prayer Soup.
Prayer should be the way that you interact with the Lord. It should be the way you share your heart with God. It should be the way you express your heart to the Lord, and allow the Holy Spirit to train your heart in the process.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. Proverbs 9:10
Wisdom is easiest to find in the Bible. One of the most important reasons we read the scripture as believers is that it reveals the nature of the Lord. When we begin to recognize the nature of God, we will become more aware of things that fail to meet His standards. We will be more likely to recognize the schemes of Satan, because we understand the nature of God as revealed in his Word.
I don’t mean just read Proverbs (although it is a wonderful book of wisdom) and I don’t mean just read Paul’s letters to the new church. I really think you should read the whole thing. A lot!
I think you should be constantly engaging the truth that is perfectly expressed in the Bible, so that you can tell the difference between truths and lies in your own life.
BUT WAIT!!! What if I’m new at this Christian thing, and I haven’t finished the whole Bible but I have to make a decision soon! What do I do???
You go find a person who is wise, and you get their help. In fact, even if you are wise, you should be including wise people in your big decisions.
How do you know if someone is wise? Well, you need to look for a person who expresses the Fruit of the Spirit. If you want to identify wise/Godly people, look for look for people who express the following regularly. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Really look for someone who expresses all of these qualities. They are indicators of maturity and longevity in discipleship. If you cant find someone with these qualities, or if you don’t really know the people in your church very well, I’d suggest you look for gray hair. And although age doesn’t always accompany wisdom, it’s a good place to start.
Some decisions, even the right ones, will cause you to move away from friends, or even lose a friend altogether. It may cause you to move to a different city, or even cause you to be rejected by some people who you thought were your supporters. But when you make a decision, do so in such a way that you will secure the most important relationships you have. Make decisions that will strengthen your relationships instead of damage them.
But how do I know what relationship I need to protect?
Well, because of the way scripture talks about relationships (Ephesians 5:22-6:4), I prioritize mine in this way:
-Parents (I also add my Brothers here)
-Brothers/Sisters in Christ
I look for certain indicators in these people before I make a decision. When I discuss the issue I’m facing with the afore mentioned people, I look for conformation for my decision by way of:
Scriptural References – Is there a story or a passage of scripture that helps to shed light on the subject?
Fruit of the Spirit – When we talk, do we express the fruit of the spirit?
Encouragement – When we are done with the conversation, are we both encouraged, or are we further confused and discouraged?
Concern for other people on my list – When I have a decision to make that could possibly affect other people in my group; I want to see that there is genuine concern for my spouse, child, family, etc. I want to know that the people I’m talking to are concerned with the ramifications of the decision I’m about to make.
Objectivity – If I bring something up to someone for the first time, and they immediately have an strong opinion on the subject, as well as, begin to try to persuade me to make a particular decision, their advice wont be as highly valued as someone else’s might be. I care about this because I want my advisers to be conscientious, wise, and patient. If they can’t at least be that, I’m not likely to value their advice.
Unity is something that should grow, especially between you and your spouse as you make life decisions. If you want to make the best decisions you need to make them TOGETHER.
Even with all this, I struggle to know what is best for my family and me. I struggle to know when to act, and when to wait. I struggle to know where to go, and where to avoid.
But I don’t struggle with who will be with me, or who will counsel me.
And I don’t struggle with why I work so hard to make good decisions.
May the Lord grant you Wisdom when you seek it, Unity in your relationships, and freedom in Prayer, when you pray with all your heart!