We’ve been talking about vision, purpose, and destiny lately in church, and it’s made me think about why a lot of people, even Christians, don’t do what God wants them to do. We know we’ll be happier, more fulfilled, and more successful when we follow the plans that God has for our lives, so why don’t we do it? I think a big reason is that we don’t know what God has for us.
Here are some methods I’ve seen a lot of people use to make decisions:
-The “If-It’s-Easy” Method
If something comes easily, then surely it’s what God wants us to do, right? And on the flip side, if something is difficult, then that can’t be what God is saying to do…right? Don’t we all wish that were true?
James says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” Whaaaaaaaaaaat? Trials? Trials aren’t easy, but the Bible tells us to consider them an opportunity for joy instead of considering them a sign from God that we’re doing the wrong thing. I guess that kind of rules out the “If-It’s-Easy” method.
-The “Open Door” Method
This is a favorite. “If God wants it to be, the door will be opened.” “When God closes a door, He opens a window.” “The open door is a sign from God.”
Ok, let’s take a look at this with an example. You’re fresh out of high school, on a college campus for the first time, out of the watchful eye of your parents. It’s your first taste of freedom. Someone invites you to a party where there will be alcohol, drugs, and lots of people to hook up with. Open door! The opportunity has so obviously presented itself, so that must mean that you should take it, right?
Nope. Just because there’s an “open door,” that doesn’t necessarily mean you should walk through it. Or just because there’s a “closed door,” that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re doing the wrong thing. There’s got to be another way to decide.
-The “Follow-Your-Heart” Method
I’d like to think that I’m always going to make the right choice by “following my heart,” but I’d be giving myself waaaaaaaaay more credit than I deserve. I’ve made many bad decisions because my feelings have told me they were right. And I’ve missed out on doing things God has wanted me to do because I just haven’t “felt like it.” The Bible tells us that our heart is deceitful above all things, and I believe it. I want to make decisions based on something more concrete than my feelings.
So what’s the alternative?
When I was younger and would go to stores with my mom, I could always tell where she was in the store by the sound her keys would make. Since I was around my mom so much (and around her keys, I guess), I could distinguish the sound her keys made from the other sounds in the store. I knew that sound. I could follow that sound to find my mom.
Jesus says that his sheep hear his voice, they know him, and they follow him (John 10). Just like I came to know the sound of my mom’s keys because I was around her a lot and became familiar with the sound, we can come to know God’s voice as we spend more and more time with him.
-The “Hear God’s voice, Know Him, Follow Him” Method
Spend enough time in God’s presence so that you come to recognize what God’s voice sounds like. As you grow in your relationship with God, you’ll start to be able to distinguish His voice from other things in your life, whether those are the voices of comfort, open or closed doors, or your feelings. Then you can move forward in confidence, knowing that you’re doing what God has told you to do.