This is the year. I will finally make that big decision I’ve been putting off for too long.
But how do I do it without second-guessing myself the whole time? When things don’t go according to plan, how can I be sure God isn’t telling me to get back on the “right” path?
I can’t help wonder if God is throwing hurdles in my path to prevent me from going astray — which reveals my assumption that the path of least resistance is the path God wants me on.
The path of least resistance isn’t always best
When I look at Scripture and how God reveals His will, I see men and women who experienced struggles and obstacles while pursuing God’s call. Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Ruth, Esther, the entire nation of Israel, Mary, Jesus and the twelve apostles are only a few examples of men and women who had to fight hard in walking out God’s will for their lives.
Similarly, God’s will for me is harder to discern than I’m comfortable admitting. Scripture reveals guiding principles, but not the nitty-gritty details of what job I’m supposed to have or what church I’m supposed to attend.
So how do I know if I’m pursuing God’s will or my own?
Don’t just say you’ll pray…pray
My wife and I were in a comfortable place. Then she came home from work with a crazy idea. “I think I should quit my job as a teacher and start my own home business.”
I freaked out. I worried about paying bills, but more specifically I didn’t understand how quitting teaching to run a retail business from home could be God’s will for my wife’s life. Teaching seemed like a higher calling than running a business.
I suggested we pray about it. And by “pray about it,” I meant, “I’ll delay the decision so she’ll hopefully forget about it.” I didn’t pray, and she didn’t forget about it.
Eventually, her excitement (and prayers) prevailed over my fears. We agreed to try it.
God’s will doesn’t promise success
After a few months, things weren’t going well. The business was far from successful, our relationship was on the rocks and our savings were gone. Despite this, my wife had great assurance that she was doing the right thing. My doubts, on the other hand, doubled.
Is it possible God’s will for our future could result in financial ruin? Shouldn’t the byproduct instead be success and favor?
I felt we’d made a terrible mistake. We must have interpreted God’s will all wrong. Life wasn’t getting easier, it was getting harder.
I felt like Pharaoh, dismissing the clear warning signs to let this foolish idea go. It seemed clear to me that God didn’t want us on this path, and if we continued, He’d send a plague we couldn’t ignore.
My wife stuck with it though, and I’m glad she did.
Years have passed, and I’m not skeptical anymore. We’re right where God wants us today. And I don’t believe that because we’re seeing success; I believe it because I see fruit from our labor.
My wife has opportunity after opportunity to share the gospel and encourage customers in their faith. Through this experience, we’ve learned to keep our love for God and love for one another at the center of our relationship instead of money, success or comfort. Looking back on how my faith in God and my love for my wife has grown through this life change, I know it wasn’t a mistake.
God won’t give you a sign —He gave you His Son
If you have a big decision to make this year, don’t wait for a sign from heaven to make everything easier or clearer. Instead, spend time reading how God has revealed His will throughout Scripture and then pray about it, asking God to direct your decision.
God’s will today is rarely revealed through signs and symbols. He speaks to us through His Word, prayer, godly counsel, circumstances and experience, and by stepping out in faith.
Remember, the path of least resistance isn’t always the one God wants you on. As the writer of Hebrews warns, “You have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised” (Hebrews 10:36).
It’s tempting to think God is saying no when you run into roadblocks while pursuing something new. Don’t automatically give up though. Pray for discernment in case God has other plans for you, but also pray for strength and courage in case you are exactly where God wants you.
Copyright 2019 Matt Stickel. All rights reserved.