Making Big Decisions (Part 2): The (Un)Certainty of Trusting in God

Living the Life of Faith

This is the second post of a series on God’s will. You can read the first post here.

Sometimes life can feel like a gamble, as though we’re fishing in the dark. We can hope for the best, but we have no control over how it turns out. Our limitations—in both knowledge and control of the future—require us to be dependent on the One who is completely sovereign over all things.

(Photo Source)

In his book, Just Do Something, Kevin DeYoung identifies five reasons that we want to know God’s direction for our lives: (1) We want to please Him, (2) We are, by nature, quite timid, (3) We are searching for perfect fulfillment in this life, (4) We have too many choices, and (5) We are cowardly. Most of these motivations are distracting from our primary mission of honoring God—except for the first reason.

Spiritual, Yet Timid: We generally make things more complicated than they need to be. Sometimes we cannot even understand ourselves, let alone other people or God’s plan for us. “We should stop putting ourselves through the misery of overspiritualizing every decision.”[1] Most Christians are paralyzed by indecision and inactivity because they are too deliberate and too cautious when it is time to make decisions and “just do something.” We are so afraid of making “the wrong decision” that we live most of our lives in timidity and passivity in order to avoid taking responsibility for the circumstances that seem dictated to us. Instead of living by faith, we live in fear; instead of taking risks, we remain locked up in our comfort—and all the while we lose an opportunity to experience the joy and grace of radical, faith-filled risk-taking. Pleasing God should be as simple as living by faith, obeying His clear commands, and trusting Him as we make decisions regarding that which is unclear. Passivity is rarely a godly attribute.

A Large Order of Fulfillment, To Go Please: Seeking perfect fulfillment in this life (i.e., career, financial, or relational happiness) is a vain pursuit. It is an unrealistic and unbiblical goal. Many of us are trying to experience “heaven on earth” in this life. We have unrealistic expectations for family life, career, recreation, and marriage. We intend to avoid any unfulfilled desires—and so we never settle into anything in which we risk the possibility of being “stuck” even if we would actually enjoy and learn the secret of true happiness. Such “true happiness” only comes as we find fulfillment in God rather than seeking fulfillment in people or things. There can be no sense of fulfillment except through the eyes of faith, which are unafraid to take risks. “Most of us would be more fulfilled if we didn’t fixate on fulfillment quite so much.”[2]

Jack Pot: The myriad of unlimited choices (or the potential of an even-greater option left to be discovered) prevents us from actually making choices and moving forward with our lives. Instead, we often live in a cesspool of indecision, because so many options pass alongside of us. We throw ourselves into areas where we feel more comfortable and secure, while avoiding any areas where our faith will actually be stretched and our joy deepened through the uncertain outcome of making decisions while trusting in God. Refusing to make hard decisions is like waiting to win the lottery; it’s unrealistic. The fairytale “jackpot” will never come. The reward of faith does not come to those who wait passively. While most major decisions involve some degree of confusion, we generally have enough clarity to make wise, faith-inspired decisions.

“With fewer options and more constraints, many trade-offs would be eliminated, and there would be less self-doubt, less of an effort to justify decisions, more satisfaction, and less second-guessing of the decisions once made.”[3] While some are making an impact for Christ during these years of “transition” and instability, most are “actually making self-centered decisions in the name of experience, cultural diversity, [independence], and sometimes… under the guise of short-term missions.”[4] Evaluating the heart motivations behind our decisions (and indecisions) is a necessary step in appropriating gospel freedom—there may be idols of fear, comfort, or selfishness that we’re clinging to under the façade of serving the Lord with our time and our treasures.

Sometimes we avoid settling down or making commitments because we’re afraid of cutting off our options in case we end up finding ourselves unsatisfied. We’re afraid of settling for something “good” when something “great” may be hiding around the next corner. The reality is that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, and we’ll generally be unsatisfied and unfulfilled when we seek such happiness from people or things. Only God can provide the satisfaction that our hearts truly seek. Instead of trusting God, we often stay locked up in the prison of indecision where we remain inactive and half-satisfied.

The Gospel Frees Us from Fear

Our indecision is often motivated by fear. We are afraid of having to live with our choices, as though God were incapable of giving us the grace necessary to endure, with joy, the way our lives are unfolding. While we are responsible to make wise choices, God determines our steps—we make plans, but He orders our circumstances. His sovereignty empowers us to find hope and confidence in trusting Him while being active rather than passive. Often, we wait passively as though God is going to bring the right choice to us—and while He can, He usually does not work that way. He wants us to live by faith rather than by cowardice. Avoiding God-honoring risks out of fear reveals a lack of wisdom and a lack of faith.

We have to stop obsessing over the future and the details of our decisions—we have to trust Him to help us be wise and faithful in the present. We need to stop expecting Him to show us His plans for us. Instead we need to live by faith and “just do something” as it seems wise and God-honoring, even if it’s somewhat unclear. There is freedom in making decisions as an act of faith. We should seek to be renewed by the Scriptures and walk in wisdom as the Spirit reveals the person of Christ to us. As we look to His character and promises, we have the confidence to make choices and take risks. There is freedom in making decisions as an act of faith—whether that is getting a job, giving away our money, taking a trip, leaving our current circumstance, or being vulnerable in a relationship—even when some of the details may be unknown and costly to us.

 The key is to entrust ourselves  to the One who will never leave us nor forsake us—we can trust Him with the details. The One who gave His own Son will be faithful to give us everything else that we need—but He commands us to walk by faith rather than by sight. We gain Christ by faith and we will experience every other measure of God’s grace by faith as He gives us what we neither deserve nor could ever earn.

______________

[1] DeYoung, Just Do Something, 28.

[2] Ibid, 32.

[3] Ibid, 36, quoting Schwartz.

[4] Ibid, 36.

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