A How-To for Seeking Guidance

Ever needed guidance on a situation that you weren’t sure how scripture could help you in your decision making process?

Lord, I come at your feet today asking you to give us guidance.

You are a wonderful Counselor. You lay out plenty of answers in scripture to guide us in determining how to live, act, speak.

Oftentimes I find myself sometimes unsure where to look for guidance in scripture when making decisions such as: Where should I live?  How should I spend my vacation time this summer? What should I do when I graduate? Should I pursue dating, and if so, when? How much should my church home play into my decisions of whether to stay in Austin? Should I live alone or get a roommate? When should I go on a mission trip, and for how long?

There is not always a precise scripture to go to in order to answer these types of questions. However, there is a great framework I recently learned about from J.I. Packer inKnowing God that I hope becomes as helpful to you as it is to me. Thinking back on some of the above decisions I have made, I wish I had this framework to aid me.

We reject God’s guidance based on an unwillingness to…

  1. Think (AKA critically think) → This is easy to overlook, but don’t. Like Henry Ford said, “Thinking is the hardest work there is, that’s why so few engage in it.”
  2. Think Ahead → It’s simple… think about the long term.
    God, help me dismiss the sunk costs when I’m making decisions, help me to think critically about what my goals are and whether they align with what you said our purpose is here on this earth. Lord, help me to hear your voice over all others — you are not deceived by me. In fact, I come to you pleading that you will show me the ways in which I don’t even know I am deceiving myself.
  3. Take Advice → You need community and truth tellers (Proverbs 12:15).
  4. Suspect Oneself →  You cannot see your own fallacies. Ask God to search your heart and reveal any offensive way in you (Psalm 139:24) and make sure you’re asking yourself WHY regularly.
  5. Discount Personal Magnetism → We are often blinded by pride; those close to you may be biased, too, and tell you what you want to hear. This emphasizes the importance of needing true friendship and truth tellers (yes, again!)

Jesus, use my community here in Austin as reflections of you and vessels to help me discern your will. And help me to also maintain a healthy level of skepticism that they may not always be in a place to see or give me the truth I need, the truth only you fully give. Help me to also be honest with those whom I am in community, unafraid to be vulnerable and confess my sins so they can help exhort me and keep me faithful to you.

6. Wait→ We don’t like to wait… but that’s oftentimes the answer. Don’t go trying to make a decision just because of an unwillingness to wait!

And Lord, why do always feel like I am waiting for something? And that I wish 5 o’clock, or Friday, or next year, would come along already? Show me how to get over my grass is always greener mentality and rest in you.

I recently made a hard decision in how to invest my time pouring into others, and it was a painful decision, though I knew God could and would do big things no matter what I decided. I talked to my truth tellers, challenged my reasonings on both sides, thought deeply/prayed on several runs/walks, considered how my time would look this year, and waited 2 weeks to be sure (not something I would typically do). Not one of these things standing alone provided a clear answer, but putting them together I knew I was not making a mistake — the framework made me more sure I was obeying God.

Above all else, I saw that my decisions must be rooted in our FAITH in His sovereignty. In seeking first his kingdom and righteousness. That no matter my decision, He will shepherd us. Above all else, I learned that my decisions must be rooted in my faith that He is sovereign. When I seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, He promised all else will be given (Matthew 6:33). No matter what my decision is, I must believe that He is who He says He is, and He will fulfill His promises for me.

“Now FAITH is confidence in what we hope for and assurance in what we do not see.” This opening line in Hebrews 11 sets the stage for a long chapter about faith, who had it, and that it is ultimately based on grace. It says, “Now Abel had faith, and ENOCH had faith, Noah had faith”….  which parallels the idea of Oprah saying, “Now you won a car! … Now YOU won a car!” On and on he goes through the chapter: Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Rahab, tribes of people…all of those who had faith. Finally in verse 32,  “And what more shall I say?” Yet he still kept the list going of who had faith. Note that the list does not list the ways they failed to have faith. He gives YOU this same grace.Yes, you, and you, and you…

God, come alive in me. I want to be alive in Christ because of the depths of faith. I desire your love to be light to those around me, and that the circumstances I am in today or tomorrow, the place I live, work, the how’s and where’s and what’s aren’t important. Help me not to hesitate to follow you.

While I will seek guidance on the answer to those types of questions, remind me constantly that a) the answers might not lead to a trouble-free life, similarly to Paul in Acts 16, but they will build my faith, and that b) only the who and the why truly matters, even when that means trusting you when the why doesn’t make any sense at all. That when I die, all that will count is to what extent I died to myself and my sins and came alive in you, and the who’s that experienced your grace and light through me while I was on this temporary earth.

Take our how’s and where’s and what’s, God. Take them and crush them. Remind us, no matter how much it hurts, that our circumstances are not important. Let us let you be sovereign over my life so that our faith is a testimony to others of your work in us. You are so much more. Hallelujah!

Amen.

Need guidance on something in your life? Send us a prayer request – we’d love to join you in prayer. When two or three gather in my name, there I am.

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