“What should I do?” The plea sounded more like a whine when I asked my dad this question back in college.
He didn’t tell me what to do. He wouldn’t.
I was an adult (sort of) and it was time to make my own decisions. Even the tough decisions. Or, maybe, especially the tough decisions.
I felt frustrated.
Looking back, I realize I wanted to shift the burden of decision-making off my shoulders and onto his. After all, he was my dad—he’d been making decisions for me all my life.
I thought I was seeking wisdom; now I realize I was avoiding responsibility.
Have you ever felt like your heavenly Father responded like my earthly one? Have you ever been in the midst of a decision-making process and prayed something like “God, just tell me what to do! Show me in neon lights!”
Frustrating, isn’t it?
Have you ever wondered why?
It may be because God knows something my dad knew: You already know what to do.
It wasn’t that my dad didn’t want to help me make the decision; it was that he’d already spent eighteen years doing just that. My parents spent my entire childhood teaching, training and modeling wisdom right before my eyes.
It was time for me to take what I already knew and do something with it.
You may not have had believing parents, but let me give you something to think about: You know all those Bible studies you’ve been in? Those sermons you’ve heard? Those strong Christians who’ve befriended you? Those worships songs whose lyrics ramble around in the back of your brain? Those scriptures you can recall? Those Christian blogs you’ve read?
Every bit of it is God’s way of imparting the wisdom you need for the decisions you face. It’s God’s method of preparing you for real life—whatever real life looks like for you right now.
James 1 tell us “If anyone lacks wisdom let him ask of God who gives to all men generously…”
The first step in decision-making is to ask God for wisdom. But if God seems radio silent, the second step is to realize He may have already given you the wisdom you need, and it’s time to apply what you already know, or can know through searching the Scriptures He’s already given.
In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul writes, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But when I became man I put away childish things.” And “now we see in part…” In other words, even though we don’t know everything, we know enough to do something.
We’re not children anymore.
What is it that we know? What information do we have that’s enough to make right choices? 1 Corinthians 13 spells it out: anything done apart from love is nothing; anything done with love is everything.
The answer to the question “what should I do?” has one primary filter: Does this express my love for God and does it express my love for others?
If I’m seeking to please God and extend love to others, whatever I decide will be the right choice. But if I rush into a decision with no regard for God or people, the rightness of my choice comes with no guarantee. I can’t do what I know is wrong and expect God to make everything turn out all right.
Over the years I’ve come to see that God rarely reveals His plan to us in neon nights. He doesn’t generally speak so clearly that all doubt about a particular direction is removed (although sometimes He does).
Instead, He asks us to live by faith.
We prefer to live by sight.
Like my college self (and, honestly, sometimes like my present self) we plead with God; just tell me what to do!
We want direction through a holy zap; God gives direction through His Holy Word.
Wisdom isn’t usually rained down on us in one life-altering conversation (that’s what I was seeking with my dad). It doesn’t hit us in one lighting bolt sermon. Rather, we soak in wisdom one drop at a time, until one day we realize we’ve soaked up enough godly wisdom so we know what to do, even if it feels like we don’t.
We’ve grown up. We are no longer children.
We may see only a part, but the part we can see is enough.
We hear the tender whisper of the Holy Spirit, Just do the next right thing and choices you make will be right.
Now, years later, I remember my dad’s words to me after I’d pleaded with him to tell me what to do. If I close my eyes I can almost hear his voice.
“Whatever you decide, it will be the right choice”.
“But how do you know? How can you be so sure?”
I guess he knew before I did that I was all grown up.
Are you in the midst of making a decision? Do you wish God would show you what to do in neon lights? Ask yourself these questions:
- Am I sincerely seeking to please God?” (Be honest!)
- Is my decision in line with God’s Word?
- Does my decision reflect my love for God?
- Does my decision reflect my love for others?
- Is there any additional information I need to make a wise decision? If so, what? When and/or how will I get this information? (Write it down here:_______________________________________________________________)
Lord, I confess that sometimes I avoid personal responsibility for my choices and I behave like a spiritual child rather than a godly grown up. Thank you that you promise to give me wisdom if I seek it. Help me realize your wisdom doesn’t often come through the insights of holy zaps but through the inspiration of your Holy Word. Help me search the scriptures to find your will. Give me confidence to know that even if I can only see a part, the part I have is enough if I’m motivated by my love for you and for others. Give me the confidence to believe that if I seek to please You, whatever decision I make will be the right one. Amen.