Summary: As we face decisions in life, we need to learn how to be discerning and ultimately seek communication with God rather than directives.
Who Are You Listening To?
As we begin each day of our lives, we all have decisions to make. Some are easy and some are difficult. And there are many voices competing for our attention and our loyalty.
As soon as I rise each morning, often before I make it to the coffee maker, I hear the pitter patter of two-year old feet, a rattling door knob, and “Hi Mom! Dance with me!”
“How ‘bout waffles?” I say, and set to making breakfast. She accepts the idea and I’ve won that one. Then I wonder if maybe I should have danced. Maybe after the coffee.
Then its time for the older child to get up. I flip on the light and say, “Waffles or Cheerios?” There’s no response. I have a limited time to put the breakfast together, so I go pour the Cheerios. 10 minutes later I hear, “Mom, I wanted waffles.” Guess I made the wrong decision – should have woke her up first.
This is the first twenty minutes of my day – and these are the easy decisions, and ones with little repercussion if I am wrong. But there’s a push and pull for my attention, my time, and my support nearly every hour between now and when I close my eyes at night.
Some decisions are easy, no-contest sort of questions. Others are much bigger and take days, weeks, months, or even years of searching and questioning. Competing voices pull us in different directions. We want to do what’s right, but what’s right isn’t always so clear.
I better finish this project today and meet that deadline.
- Tomorrow will be good enough, I work too hard.
I really shouldn’t do this, it doesn’t seem ethical and honest.
- It’s just my integrity. Besides, no one will know.
Mom always said I shouldn’t do this.
- Maybe I hold my convictions too tightly. Go ahead, it feels right.
Who are you listening to? It was easy to see what I thought was right in those situations, but often life doesn’t paint it so black and white. And even after we make a decision, we sometimes continue to wonder if it was the right one, we have knots in our stomach, and we wonder if we’ve missed some piece of evidence.
How can we have peace in our decisions? It all boils down to Who we’re listening to. (And that Who has a capital W.) But knowing how to listen can sometimes be difficult.
Blueprint, Reason, or something else
Sometimes we think God has a perfect blueprint for our lives and we have to figure out what it is and then do it. We look at circumstances and follow the open doors. Sometimes I wish it was that easy, but I probably wouldn’t be really happy if it was. Taking our circumstance into consideration is important, but if that’s all we do, we leave out the voice of God.
The flip-side of this extreme is the idea that we can simply immerse ourselves in scripture and then we can use our powers of reasoning to apply this wisdom to our lives. God gave us our powers of reasoning, and we ought to use them, but again, if this is all we do, we leave out listening to God.
Either of these options will bring us to a decision, but if we don’t listen to God during times of decision, we won’t have His peace in the answer.
Identify False Voices
Now I will readily admit that hearing God’s voice isn’t always easy. It takes a lot of work.
In order to hear God’s voice, it might be helpful first to know how to recognize the false voices that speak to us.
In 1 John 4 we read:
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. (1 John 4:1-3, NAU)
The false voices are in this world, and so we need to be careful who we listen to. They may masquerade as teachers, acquaintances, or friends. They seek to be the authority in our decisions, whether overtly or covertly. But these false teachers can lead us down the wrong path if we are not careful who we listen to.
Does the guidance we receive fall in line with scriptural teaching or not? Does the life of our guide show evidence of knowing Christ? Have we set our minds to knowing the difference? This is where our God-given powers of reasoning, mixed with prayer, can be very helpful.