When considering major life decisions, it is one thing to have a theological understanding of the Spirit’s guidance in such things, and another to practically apply such understanding to our decision making. Romans 8:14 states that ‘all who are being led by the Spirit of God… are sons of God.’ Sonship implies intimacy in relation to a parental figure. If God has, through the spirit of adoption, claimed us as sons, then it only makes sense that He would desire to lead us in all things. Yet, as it seems, becoming sensitive to God’s will in our decisions can seem like an overwhelming task. There are those who would seek such guidance in every minor detail of life. Tasks such as purchasing a pair of shoes or which brand of hot sauce to choose may be taken to the Lord with the expectation that He will provide a specific answer in a still small voice. While this may seem noble, and we certainly should consider the Lord in all of our dealings, I believe that this can quickly lead us into spiritual subjectivism. Does God speak to us in such a way? Are His directions made crystal clear to our seeking hearts? Consider, on the other hand, those who would seek to make decisions on an impulse, or without a diligent consideration of God’s will. These may believe that they are utilizing the wisdom and resources available to them and thus practicing the will of God, but there seems to be an issue here as well.
Could it be, in both of these aforementioned cases, that our fallen reasoning and the deceitfulness of the heart could get in the way of the Lord’s will? Furthermore, how can we be sure that we are indeed making the Spirit’s decisions for our life after Him? Could there, in fact, be a smoothly paved road between these two ditches on which we can safely travel? I believe there is, and though it may not be as simple as waiting for that still small voice or impulsively partaking in the will of God, I would argue that it is of far greater value to our souls than either of these options.
So, the real question becomes, can I really know God’s will for my life? Can I know which steps to take and when to take them in regard to life’s major decisions? How will I choose my next home? How can I know whether or not I am to seek our or respond to a career change? These are important questions that we all have to wrestle with at some point in our lives, and if we are truly God’s sons and daughters, then we are going to want the stamp of our Father’s approval before moving too quickly toward one answer or the other.
My stepfather was a hard man growing up. For many years, we did not see eye-to-eye, and I struggled to experience his love and acceptance. Despite this, I came to know him relatively well. I knew when certain decisions and behaviors would allow him to remain neutral and which ones would set him off. Through this knowledge, I began to discover his likes and dislikes, and a bit about what made him tick. In a sense, you could say that I learned his will for my life through my experience with him. I understand that my relationship with my heavenly Father is infinitely different than that which I had with my earthly father. Yet, there is a slight similarity. In the same way that I came to know my earthly father through time and experience with Him, so I come to know my heavenly Father in the same way. God has given me His Word, and in it, He has revealed Himself in a way that I could not have known otherwise. I can come to know His likes, dislikes, what brings Him joy, and what grieves His heart, and although the Bible does not speak specifically on every subject that I will ever face, it does provide me with the practical guidelines on how I should approach all of life.
Not only has God given His Word, which is the perfect revelation of Himself and His will, but He has also granted the indwelling presence of His own Spirit to ensure that we have the ability to understand what is written. So, while the Lord may not speak subjectively to us in every situation, He speaks perfectly clear through the medium of His Word, and His Spirit guides us in properly interpreting and applying it to our lives.
Now the question becomes, how does this help me make my next major decision? Currently, my family and I are looking to purchase our first home. It has been a desire placed on all of our hearts to have a home of our own, yet I have found this to be one of the most difficult processes of my life. I often, out of frustration more than anything, find myself forsaking my own understanding of the Spirit’s leading and asking Him to just tell me what to do, where to look, and what to buy. In my better moments, I seek to come together with my wife and seek the Lord together for our needs. We seek His wisdom to look and buy wisely, knowing that we are only stewards of the good gifts that He gives. This has provided me with great peace. Not in the assumption that God will bring us to the perfect home, for that may not be His will for us at this time. Instead, both my wife and I have come to know a certain peace in that, even if we are to continue living in an apartment for an unspecified period of time, it is okay. We are together, our needs are met, and we are comfortable where we are at. I believe that through the continual seeking of God, through His Word and prayer, He will make the path clear. He knows our every need, and if now is not the time to make a major move, then He knows what is best for us. I understand that impulsively jumping on the first home that seems convenient, could lead to many problems that we could have otherwise avoided. I also know that when the time comes, the Spirit will grant wisdom to both my wife and I as we seek to make wise decisions on behalf of our family. And even if we were to make a rash decision which seems to be outside the Lord’s will, I stand on the promise that all things will work together for good. In hindsight, we will look back and find that, because of His perfect love and guidance, all of our life was in His hands. Even our mistakes will be used to draw us near to Him and make us more like His Son.
That is not to say that we are to make rash decisions in the hope that the Lord will bless them down the road, but it does provide a deep assurance that everything is under control. With that in mind, I will continue to seek His face and not just His hand. I will seek to trust and obey Him in the areas that He has already clearly revealed in His Word. I will seek to pray without ceasing, not that He may give me everything that I want, but because He is my loving Father who takes joy in me as His son. Much of walking in His will comes in the form of being content with whatever His gracious hand provides. This can be difficult at times because I see the lust of my own heart, but through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, my old nature is continually being put to death, and God is calling me to walk in a greater light. Wherever that may lead and whatever form it may take, I desire to be content.
There may be times in life that require a speedier response on my part. That is okay as well. The same pattern applies, just on a shorter timeline. Seek His face, pray over His Word, discuss my options with those I love and trust (and who love and know me well), and utilize the wisdom that God has already provided. At the end of the day, the question may surely arise of whether I made the right decision, but even if I did not, I know that the Lord will use it to minister to my heart and prepare me for the next!