How to Find Balance between God's Will and Personal Choice

Published Apr 26, 2024
How to Find Balance between God's Will and Personal Choice

... the more we surrender our full lives to him, the less we desire to choose and the more we take safety in knowing God is for us and doing what's in our best interest. 

As a type-A control freak, I prefer to remain in control of my life. Because of this tendency, I want to make my own choices rather than allow God to make choices for me. This is because I want to manipulate outcomes so that I gain pleasure and avoid pain. This reaction is part of our human nature. Although God gives us choices in life, there is a delicate balance between allowing ourselves to be able to choose and surrendering our lives to the Lord and his will. 

Here's how I strike a balance between God's will and choice: 

I Surrender to His Will

Surrender is such a difficult concept. Surrender is counter-intuitive to the American Dream. The American Dream says as Americans, we work to get what we want in life. Members of past generations believe life doesn't owe us anything. If people want something, they pull themselves up by their bootstraps and earn it themselves. Although this is still an idea that America believes, it is the antithesis of God's will for our lives. 

In Exodus 14, the Israelites see that they are surrounded. They believe they are going to die and complain to Moses. But Moses reassures them that God will fight for them: “Stand firm and watch the Lord deliver you…The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.” It is only when they lay down their weapons that the entire rest of the text describes what God did, moving them forward to the Promised Land. But it was not until they surrendered their lives that God did so.

When we surrender every area of our lives to God, God can work in our lives in the way he wants to. However, there are moments when he allows us to choose. For example, we may pray fervently for a particular job opportunity. God may present us with two opportunities, or he may present us with an ideal job opportunity. He might also present an opportunity to stay in a current occupation. These are moments when God may allow us to choose. However, there are other times when the Lord speaks so firmly that we need to obey his commands. Although we will never understand why God allows this choice in some areas and other times he does not, the more we surrender our full lives to him, the less we desire to choose and the more we take safety in knowing God is for us and doing what's in our best interest.

I Yield to His Leading

Through prayer, I have learned to listen to the Spirit. It is not a practice that came easily. I had to obey what I heard, and because I was obedient, God took another step in my life by speaking more frequently. The more I practiced and obeyed, the more God spoke. When God speaks, I’m able to yield to his leading. It is difficult to navigate life when we don't see God at work. Yet God is always at work in our lives. He uses a myriad of ways to speak to us, including a brother or sister in our church. When we yield our lives to his leading, the ability to surrender to God's will becomes easier. 

I Seek Godly Counsel

In some situations, the solution is morally ambiguous, meaning the Bible does not address the specific situation and I may not know what to do. Therefore, I seek the advice of people who I know are anchored to the Word and will give me wise counsel. When I know people are for me and are praying for me, I'm able to accept their advice more readily. 

However, if I ask for people's advice only to do my own thing, what does that say about our relationship? When I ask for people's advice but don't take it, I breed rebellion. God wants a life surrendered to his will, not one steeped in rebellion. It is hard for God to move when someone is in rebellion, going against his ways. Yet, the church community around us can help us see when we aren't honoring God. When we have people who speak into our lives in the hopes that we will become more like God, we can know when it is time to choose and when it is time to surrender to God's will. 

I Pray

Although this sounds simplistic, the most productive thing I can do in a situation where I have no control is pray. It is a productive way to handle the situation because I'm giving over control to the One who controls it all. I have been surprised in several situations when I thought I was confident I knew the outcome. However, the Lord turned it around in such a way that it was only by his Spirit that the situation was able to change. When I cast my cares upon God, I give him all my burdens. This allows me to process those big emotions that I feel, and I'm better able to understand and accept God's will for my life. 

I Serve Others

In any situation when I'm feeling out of control, the best thing I can do is serve others. When I get the focus off myself and focus on others, God always brings to my mind a fellow believer whose situation is worse than mine. This is a reminder to me that God is not out to favor others over me, but rather, we all suffer trials. It is easy, especially with the prevalence of social media, to believe my life is so much worse than others. 

Yet, when I accept that trials are part of a fallen world and that God can use trials to make me more like him, I'm able to accept that will. I don't want to make choices that will manipulate outcomes but rather accept whatever comes my way. Even when situations are unbearable, I must believe that God is doing what's in my best interest and for the furthering of his Kingdom. Some of the best people I know are suffering through horrendous circumstances. But they also reflect God's glory in a way that I can’t. God is using the situations to refine them and point believers and non-believers to his power and grace.  

When I surrender to God's will and accept a terrible health diagnosis, financial ruin, or a prodigal child, it is important that I don't fight that outcome but pray and surrender it to God. Often, those situations turn around for God's glory—and without my help. But even if they don't, I am confident that God is doing what's right for me in that season and not wasting the pain, giving himself glory in the end.

Surrendering to God's will and resisting the opportunity to choose is difficult. Because we have free will, we can choose. However, when we surrender to God's will, the less choice will hold its appeal. Instead, we will take solace in knowing that our loving God has our best interest at heart. 

Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Elena Mozhvilo

Writer Michelle LazurekMichelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website