Have you ever been caught in a standstill with God?
When faced with an important decision, most Christians turn to God for direction, and when we don’t receive a clear-cut answer, sometimes we mistake that as a “no” from Him. But there’s more to consider before we jump to that conclusion.
When seeking God’s guidance, it’s crucial for us not only to pray, but to turn to His Word. The books of Psalms and Proverbs are excellent places to start looking for wisdom. But if we are honest with ourselves, we’ve probably all had instances when even our Bibles did not give us absolute clarity on a pressing matter.
So what are we to make of this? Does God simply not care as much about these decisions where He appears to fall silent?
The short answer is – of course, He cares! But in order to fully understand why God refrains from giving us simple answers to some of our questions, we must take a deeper look at His character.
Proverbs 3:5-6 gives us three directions that provide insight into our dilemma: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” For emphasis, I’ll begin with the third charge and work my way back.
In verse 6, God tells us that in order to make our paths straight, we must fully submit to Him. Practically, this means we have to come to a place where we can say, “Lord, even if the best decision is the one I’d rather not take, I will do that if it’s what you want for me.” This is not an easy prayer to pray, but is absolutely necessary in order for God’s perfect plans to play out in our lives.
God gives us free will and does not want to control us like puppets. Instead, He gives us opportunities to share experiences with Him, which make the outcomes of our decisions that much more meaningful and enjoyable. That is why sometimes, God will wait for us to let go of our own way before He gives us peace about which direction to take.
There is a certain aspect of mystery to all of our lives, and God is gracious enough not to give us all the answers.
“Lean not on your own understanding.” This is where the waters can get murkier, because while it’s true that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, it’s also true that there will be much trouble in this world. Not only that – God also allows us to experience pain at times for our own benefit, as a loving parent disciplines a child who needs to be corrected (Psalm 94:12).
So we must keep this in mind when we’re trying to make difficult decisions that can potentially bring suffering because, yes, God will sometimes allow our suffering if it ultimately leads to a deepening of our character and faith. Understanding that brings us to the final, and perhaps most important aspect of this passage:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” It seems simple enough. But what if we actually do totally trust God, yet still don’t know or understand what He wants us to do?
In my experience, God has waited to give me full clarity or confirmation on some of the most important decisions of my life until AFTER I’ve taken a step forward in a certain direction. And in every case, He did this as a way to test my faith in a deeper way.
I think it’s easy for humans to put God in a box and assume He’ll give us cookie-cutter methods on how we should approach our lives. But it’s actually an extreme example of His radical love that He does not.
There is a certain aspect of mystery to all of our lives, and God is gracious enough not to give us all the answers, but instead to allow us to experience life as a beautiful adventure with Him.
Though God may allow you to learn a hard lesson or two as you try to navigate life, if you are genuinely seeking His will in your life, He will never abandon you. Remember, as a Christian, you have the Holy Spirit living inside of you Who will convict your heart when you should absolutely refrain from certain paths.
But for those decisions where you’re not completely sure, take a leap of faith and ask God to be with you in your decision. And in doing that, He will ultimately carry you to the path you need to be.