“I’m going to marry him,” I told my puzzled and alarmed friend. After only one date, I was certain the man I described would one day become my husband. And I was right! Almost 2 years later we each said, “I do.”
There was no science or strategy behind my prediction. I heard no angelic chorus or audible voice of God. In fact, I was naive and unprepared to make such a life altering choice. What I did have was a little information, an assortment of assumptions, some wise counsel, and a whole lot of prayer.
Before I jumped the broom, I was constantly storing up wisdom on marriage. Whether these nuggets came from books, one-on-one chats, or messages in church, I was eager to discover how to make a marriage last. I was a single woman who had grown up in a single parent household, so I wanted to learn as much information on marriage as I could get. This knowledge was used to create a mental list of characteristics and qualities I would look for in a husband.
When my now-husband made his nervous approach, I was thinking about my list. And as he talked on our first date, I noticed many of those desirable qualities. This is where my confidence came from while recapping the details of our date to my concerned friend.
More confidence came as I prayed. I prayed during our courtship, after he proposed, and all throughout our extended engagement period. One of the prayers I prayed, had a major impact on my decision making:
“Lord, if we aren’t ready to get married don’t allow us to.”
This was the prayer I prayed repeatedly. I knew my fragility from growing up without my father. I did not have the privilege of seeing marriage lived out. And I knew I was eager to couple up and could potentially be blinded to blazing red flags, so I gave God license to pump the brakes if needed. He did just that.
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"Although he gave me the freedom to make my own decision, he chose to intervene on my behalf."
God staged an intervention that stretched my 6-month engagement into 2 years. Although he gave me the freedom to make my own decision, he chose to intervene on my behalf. It was a difficult season that felt like it would continue indefinitely, but I am grateful for it.
Trying to make decisions that are in line with God’s will can feel tricky. But if we ask ourselves a few questions, we can have confidence in our decision-making, even if God steps in to nudge us along or slow us down.
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The Gift of Choice
Along with a mind to think and reason, God gives us choice and the Holy Spirit when it comes to making decisions in line with His will. We see evidences of this all throughout the Bible.
He gave Adam and Eve a choice to eat of all the trees in the Garden of Eden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3: 16 - 17 NIV). Ruth had a choice to stay in Moab or go to Judah with Naomi (Ruth 1: 11 - 14 NIV). David had a choice to either kill Saul or to allow him to live (1 Samuel 24: 6 - 7 NIV). Jesus had a choice to command stones to become bread when he was tested in the wilderness by Satan (Matthew 4: 3 - 4 NIV).
In each of these scenarios, God could have decreed which decision each person should have made. In fact, God, who has intricately crafted minute details for all creation, could have pre-programed human beings to make decisions in line with God’s will every time. Why didn’t He? Why wouldn’t the God of the universe keep everything nice and orderly with children he could count on to obey Him and make the right decision?
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"The reality is, God is a God who honors of free will."
The reality is, God is a God who honors of free will. He gives us the freedom to choose. Just as He allowed men and women of the Bible to think, reason, and make their own choices. He does the same for you and me. Although we are free in Christ, God does not want us to make choices that solely please ourselves, rather He wants us to please Him. Just as it says in Galatians 5: 13 (AMP),” For you, my brothers, were called to freedom; only do not let your freedom become an opportunity for the sinful nature (worldliness, selfishness), but through love serve and seek the best for one another.”
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"Knowing God’s will does not have to be stressful."
Sometimes the weight of making decisions that honor God can be a bit unnerving. This is especially true for us Type A saints who mistakenly believe we can be perfect. For many of us we have unanswered questions nagging at us every time we have to make an important decision.
What if we choose wrong? What if we say no when we should say yes? How can we be certain? What if we are making a mistake?
Knowing God’s will does not have to be stressful. Neither does it have to be mystical and difficult to ascertain. When determining whether a decision is in line with God’s will or not, there are a few questions we can ask ourselves.
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1. Is it in line with Scripture?
When I was growing up, I heard a familiar phrase over and over at milestone events: baptisms, graduations, and those periodic moments where I had some type of success. The older and wiser adults in my life would lean in and say, “Baby, always keep God first in your life and you will go far.” I assumed that meant simply pray about decisions, but now I know it means to make sure my decisions are in line with Scripture. Proverbs 3: 5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
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"The Scriptures are filled with wisdom on how to straighten crooked paths."
But how can we “trust” and “acknowledge” the Lord if we do not know what he says? If we are not searching the pages of Scripture for direction and guidance, we could be mistaking our own opinions for the voice of God. Praying and reading his Word is a big part of trusting God to make our paths straight. The Scriptures are filled with wisdom on how to straighten crooked paths. As we pray, we must comb through the pages of the Bible to see what God’s Word says about the decision we’re facing.
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2. Have I researched the decision?
I am impulsive by nature. Experience, however, has taught me that this is not wise. It is literally a weakness of my personality to act first and think second.
The Bible encourages us to get knowledge before making a decision. This is what it says in Proverbs 19: 2 (AMP) “Also it is not good for a person to be without knowledge, and he who hurries with his feet [acting impulsively and proceeding without caution or analyzing the consequences] sins (misses the mark).”
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"...we must also conduct research in order to make an informed decision."
In addition to consulting God’s Word we must also research the particular area we are making a decision about. If it is a new job we should consider the job responsibilities, the company, and our commute. If it is marriage we should consider our preparedness, what we know about marriage, and our backgrounds. If it is a new church we should know the theology, the types of ministries they offer, and the history. In addition to trusting God’s Word and the pages of Scripture, we must also conduct research in order to make an informed decision.
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3. Have I sought the opinion of wise counselors?
In whatever we face, God has placed people around us who are more experienced than we are in various areas of our lives. We have the privilege of seeking out the advice of these individuals. This may not always be sitting down for hours at Starbucks. Sometimes people who provide wise counsel may not have a lot free time to offer. In 2018 wise counsel may also come from a book, podcast, or a YouTube video. This, however should be in addition to a pastor, mentor or a wise and trustworthy friend. Proverbs 11: 14 (AMP) says it like this, “Where there is no [wise, intelligent] guidance, the people fall [and go off course like a ship without a helm], But in the abundance of [wise and godly] counselors there is victory.”
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"...we can make decisions that are in line with God’s will."
When it comes to making difficult decisions, it would be nice if God communicated explicitly. Although we may not hear an audible voice of God, we can make decisions that are in line with God’s will. By researching all options, searching the pages of Scripture, and consulting wise counsel, we position ourselves to make informed decisions that God can back.
Kia Stephens is a wife and homeschooling mama of two who is passionate about helping women know God as Father. For this reason, she created The Father Swap Blog to be a source of encouragement, healing, and practical wisdom for women dealing with the effects of a physically or emotionally absent father. Each week through practical and biblically sound teaching she encourages women to exchange father wounds for the love of God the Father. For more encouragement download Kia's free ebooks, Hope for the Woman With Father Wounds and Forgiveness Hacks: 5 Strategies to Help You Forgive. Additionally, you can connect with Kia on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.
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Originally published Thursday, 02 August 2018.