Making decisions is rarely easy to do, and one of the most important times to get it right is when you are deciding on a new job offer. Some years ago, my wife and I were at a crossroads. I had just turned 50, and there is some indefinable thing that happens to our psyche each time our age rolls over to a new decade. The realization begins to dawn that we’re not getting any younger and we don’t have as many strong years left.
After graduating from college, I was glad to leave my books and assignments behind and was itching to jump into all the new experiences awaiting me in the workplace. I had been a good student during my college years and I was sure that my foreign language proficiency and good work ethic would land me a challenging job in the field that I was the most interested in. When I did not receive any substantial offers after sending out a first batch of resumes, however, I realized that my new and exciting job wasn’t going to happen as soon as I’d expected.
One of the traits of humankind, as beings created in the image of God, is free will, which includes both the ability to make decisions and the responsibility for the outcomes of our decisions. Learning to make decisions that will glorify God and fulfill His will for our lives can be very challenging. It can test and grow our faith, as we seek His will and wait on Him for answers and guidance.
The Brazilian writer and poet Cora Coralina, from a very poor family, became a famous teacher and author. She left many wise sayings in her books, one of which was: “The most important things in life are our choices!” She meant to teach her students that being rich or good-looking or other things society values are not as crucial as learning to make the right choices in life.
I’ve often wished I had a truckload of money that I could use to help others. There are many people I know who need financial help for one thing or another, and it would be great to have the means to be that help. I daydream of coming along and dropping a bunch of cash on my friends, family, and others, and watching them get out from under financial burdens and be free to enjoy life without the stress that money troubles can bring. As of now, I don’t have those means.
One of my favorite novels is C. S. Lewis’s The Horse and His Boy, one of the seven books in The Chronicles of Narnia series. The heroine, Aravis, is a princess trying to escape an arranged marriage to a high-ranking, but loathsome, fellow. Escaping with her are some newfound friends who, despite being unrelated, cross paths with her and decide to travel together for safety. Their destination is the mystical land of Narnia.
Quite a few years ago, when I had barely begun my journey as a volunteer missionary, I was faced with a big decision. I was fretting and fearful and ended up struggling for days with this decision. God eventually answered by giving me a simple illustration.
Following Me doesn’t mean that you will never encounter problems, because problems are part of life on earth, and they’re one of the ways in which I teach and strengthen you. But it means that regardless of life’s obstacles, I can care for you and do what you can’t do. I can work in the spiritual realm to bring about events that will help you to be successful.
Have you ever been faced with important decisions and needed explicit direction, only to feel as if God was in silent mode?—Right when you would most like Him to give a precise answer? I know I have, and during those times, it’s been a spiritual struggle. Once, while struggling with a decision, I so much wanted God to make the path clear, but He, in His wisdom, chose not to give a direct answer. Instead, I needed to forge ahead to do the pick-and-shovel work of investigating options, seeking godly counsel, weighing the open doors of opportunity before me, praying desperately, and most of all, committing my ways to Him. I had to trust that He would direct my path in the manner of His choosing.
Chopping vegetables for dinner, I twice caught a stray mushroom before it rolled from the cutting board off the counter.
You’re so good to me, God! I thought.
Somewhere else in my mind, I was thinking about the apartment rental application I had put in that morning. Please be good to me, and let them accept my application.