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Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

How NOT to Make a Decision

Excited

A week ago a friend asked if I could speak at the men’s retreat at his church.

I was thrilled.

I had been praying for opportunities to talk about faith — I would be able to see my friend — I would grow and learn — and it would be exciting to watch God work.

So I said I would love to come — as long as I could work out some details — and that I’d get back to him.

Not so fast

But the next day I started to have misgivings.

I could not put my finger on why — but I felt a strange uncertainty.

And then it struck me — I had not taken the time to lay this invitation at God’s feet — and ask if He wanted me to do this or not.

So I stopped and prayed.

Inquiring of God

Many times in the Old Testament David “inquired of the Lord” — asking God specific questions — and receiving answers from God (1Sam 23:2, for example).

And in the New Testament the Holy Spirit often leads people supernaturally (Acts 8:29, for example).

Not that we always need supernatural leading.  Often God wants us to decide based on prayerful, bible-soaked wisdom.

But over the years I have seen the benefit of asking God for specific leading — which, if He chooses to guide in that way — is always  helpful.

So I stopped and asked God if I should do this men’s retreat.

Sometimes when I do that I don’t have any sense one way or the other.

Not this time

This time I had an immediate sense that was God saying “No.  Don’t go.”

What?!?

This was NOT what I was expecting to hear.

This was NOT what I wanted to hear.

I was stunned.

I know — it would be wrong to make a decision based just on that.  And I certainly didn’t want to.

So I decided to give it a few more days.

Battle

That’s the only way I can describe it.

Just about every time I’d pray — it was “No.  Don’t go.”

But — it made perfect sense to say Yes to this invitation.

And I wanted to say Yes to this invitation.

So there was a battle in my soul.

I had no desire to say No.

But I felt no peace about saying Yes.

This went on for a few days.

God is faithful

But God is faithful.

He is abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon Him (Psa 86:5).

So I called upon Him to help me.

I stopped praying about whether or not I should go — and asked Him to show me what was wrong.

And He showed me the problem — I was not surrendered to Him.

I was trusting this speaking engagement more than Jesus Christ to secure and satisfy me.

That’s why there was a battle.

That’s why I had no peace.

On my knees

So I got down on my knees — and prayed.

I confessed that I had let this speaking engagement become an idol.

I asked the Father to forgive me — through Jesus.

I asked Him to change my heart.

I prayed over Scriptures like Prov 3:5-6; James 1:5; Psa 16:11.

Peace

And finally — the battle stopped.  Peace came.

I knew — God did not want me to speak at the retreat.

I had a couple ideas as to why — but the main reason I had peace was because I was finally surrendered to Him.

What I learned

From now on, when I face a decision, I will immediately pray about it.

I will talk honestly with the Father about my desires.

I will admit that my desires might be wrong, and lay them at His feet.

I will pray about His wisdom and love and goodness until I feel fully surrendered to whatever His will might be.

Then I will ask Him for wisdom about what I should do.

And — as He gives me grace — I will follow the wisdom He gives.

Have you experienced anything similar?

I’d love to hear — leave a reply below.  Thanks!

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Category: Stories from My Life

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10 Responses

  1. Susanna says:

    I soooo needed to hear/read this today – Thank you!!

  2. Brian says:

    Steve,

    Yes, I’ve experienced the battle of wondering why God hasn’t recognized my desires as being right.
    Jesus is very patient and faithful to show me why He is the true and real desire of my heart. Graciously, He usually gets my attention before I fall flat on my ego.

    Brian

    • Steve Fuller says:

      “Fall flat on my ego” — well said, Brian. That’s EXACTLY what makes me fall.

      It’s always a joy to have you stop by and share your thoughts — thank you.

  3. Mary says:

    I, too, struggle with this. I often take the, “If you don’t stop me, I’ll know it’s right” approach rather than wait on God’s leading. I also go along blithely making my own decisions (God is soooooooo busy!).

    Thanks for the always-needed reminder that it’s not my will, Lord, but yours!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Nice post, Steve. – Personally, I’d like to have the kind of clarity you and others have. I’d like to be obedient to God’s desires for me some day.

    As a sufferer of various “mental illnesses” it’s often hard for me to discern who is talking to me, however. (I’m not proud to admit it, but I’ve heard plenty of “voices”) – Along with God, the world, the flesh and Satan can all tug. “Is God really telling me not to do this, or is it just my own fear?” – “If it is God and I disobey, what will happen to me? Will I lose my salvation?”

    Some issues are obvious to me: Should I steal this? –> No. Should I lie about this? –> No. Should I commit sexual immorality in this situation? –> No.

    Some are unclear. Should I take this job? –> ? Should I marry this person? –> ? Should I speak at this speaking arrangement? –> ?

    In addition to “mental illness” I have a lot of fear. It holds me back from being who God wants me to be, and chokes my spiritual fruit output. I get stuck in the world of “just play it safe.” – I’m certainly not saying that’s what you did Steve. I think you have a good understanding. – Personally, I’m too confused.

    If Jesus were around today, I’d definitely like to reach out and touch the hem of his garment. 🙂

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, brother. I appreciate your candor and honesty.

      For the sake of time, I left a lot out of the story. There was much lack of clarity — until the very end.

      But I have found over the years that the Father gives us the amount of clarity we need — depending on the size and weightiness of the decision.

      It’s helpful that you see that there can be other voices. That will help you discern.

      And of course our main focus is the Word of God itself — the Bible.

      Through prayer and reading His Word and waiting on Him — He will always give us all the wisdom we need (Jam 1:5) — whether that’s through our own weighing pros and cons — or through more supernatural means like subjective impressions, speaking to us in our hearts, or dreams and visions.

      Much blessing on you as you continue living by faith in Jesus Christ,

      Steve

  5. Katherine F. says:

    I recently said yes to a service opportunity right away without praying about it, too (it seemed like it made sense at the time, I was flattered, I was caught off guard). And then I proceeded to become exceedingly uncomfortable with the whole thing, practically sweating blood over it, and had to take back my reponse, even though it did hurt my ego, too, to feel unreliable, flighty, etc. But honestly, how could I have replied without praying? It felt ridiculous when I realized.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Thanks for sharing your story, Katherine.

      I asked the same question — how could I have said “yes” without seeking the Father’s wisdom? Seems SO foolish in hindsight.

      How comforting to know His forgiveness in Christ, and that He is completing the good work He’s started — including the work of helping see how much I really need Him.

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