How many times, as it relates to both critical and minor decisions have you found yourself unsure of what step you are to take next? Decisions of any size can at times feel helpless due to the innate human inability to know for certain what will come as the consequent. We are oftentimes left standing between the obvious choice of ice cream or no ice cream or the more serious election that lacks any level of discernability. In both the Christian and non-believing world, choices are often either made spontaneously with no consideration for future sequential events, accompanied by certain levels of preparation and forethought, or painstakingly analyzed with extraneous detail. Decisions can be found between the confines of each of those scenarios, but I think it would be fair to assume we all have felt both the weightiness of a decision or the regretful consequences of making what we deemed was the wrong one.
If we cannot be for certain how any selection will derive in a resolution or outcome, how then are we to approach both every day and potentially life-changing crossroads we find our feet planted in the intersection of? Do we throw our arms in the air submitting our finite knowledge to be whisked away by the wind of any certainty that the future might hold? By no means. Do we sit in our chairs of comfort analyzing any and all minute detail waiting for unequivocal clarity each time with regard to the course of action? I would answer that in like manner to the question prior. Instead, I believe, we are to find ourselves somewhere in between.
If God is sovereign over all things that were, are, and will be to come, we can breathe a sigh of relief in knowing our lives as Christians are not meant to be bearing certain burdens of making every perfect choice that unnecessarily weighs down on our fallible shoulders. For as Christ proclaims in Matthew 11:28-30, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
We are, by no means, to continue on living lives as if to say our choices cannot be determined by us so we, therefore, will not make them with any forethought to their potential outcome. In James, we are explicitly instructed to not sit idly in our lack of wisdom but to "ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach." (James 1:5b). Furthermore, in Proverbs 3:5-6 we read, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths."
Both in a place of not bearing unnecessary and at oftentimes prideful burdens, while also avoiding a place of laziness with regard to what wisdom to seek, we find ourselves at a particularly imperative place; the place where we both seek the Lord and walk in faith that His sovereignty reigns supreme over our limited knowledge of all that is and will be, aiming to always bring Him glory in all of what we do. (1 Corinthians 10:31, Colossians 3:17) You might be asking, "How do we practically live this out both in the critical and minuscule decisions life presents us?"
First, I want us to go to one of my favorite passages in 2 Chronicles 20. In this chapter, we find King Jehoshaphat with feet planted in the intersection of the crossroad of an incredibly monstrous decision where an outcome of any positivity seems lacking. Between the Moabites, Ammonites, and some of the Meunites, Jehoshaphat was being approached for battle. We read that the enemy approach was of a great multitude coming from beyond the sea. (2 Chronicles 20:2) Overcome with fear, we read that Jehoshaphat's instinct was not to analyze every potential outcome, cry in utter defeat, or even to make a plan of defense. Rather, he sought the most important defense in any battle: God. Upon being overwhelmed with fear, we read that Jehoshaphat first, "set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah." Followed by all of Judah, assembling "to seek help from the Lord; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord." (2 Chronicles 20:3-4)
In our natural human mind, we would react to their first line of defense as being both irresponsible and intelligible. We read that a King, the leader of a group of people, didn't consult the wise counsel around him or even proclaim any military course of action first, but rather he set his face to seek the Lord in the middle of the soon to be battle. With enemies approaching, Jehoshaphat did not seek the created things to be used in battle but instead the Creator of all. As we read on in this chapter, we see that all of Judah continued to worship and seek God even into the next day as they arose early. In a statement from King Jehoshaphat that would now be considered as a sign of weakness, we read this important reminder for us still today.
"We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you." (2 Chronicles 20:12b)
As they went out to battle, they defeated their enemy; not through the power and might of man but through the power and might of the God in whom they were praising as they approached those that pursued their defeat.
It wasn't that Jehoshaphat sat idly in his fear, awaiting the eventual battle that was approaching. It wasn't that he decided to over-analyze a plan of attack either. Before he succumbed to his fear or took a course of action, he took the most important step all of us ought to when approaching the decisions that sometimes lack any promise of a self-focused and positive outcome. He sought and worshipped God. Even as they went into battle, they praised God. They praised Him not because they were being naive to what seemed like a disastrous outcome. They praised Him because they knew in their seeking Him that His steadfast love endures forever; that the God that brought their ancestors out of the land of Egypt is also the God in whom barren Hannah called upon as Adonai Tzva’ot, or the “Lord of Hosts”.
They knew that apart from God, they would most likely be defeated. Instead of sitting in their fears of being overcome by the potential outcome of what was to be, they listened to the wisdom given by the Spirit of God to Jahaziel saying, "Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you." (2 Chronicles 20:17)
The God that was with them during their battle is the same God that is with us today. For Christians, our hope is not in the things of this world, but in the finished work of Jesus's death and resurrection. So, as we approach both the minute and critical decisions that we face in this life, we should step towards them in humility, remembering that we in our finite and fleshly wisdom do not inherently always know what we are to do. Furthermore, we are to rest in the sovereignty of God who exists outside of time and is willing to give us wisdom as we ask. Does this mean that His wisdom comes down in a fiery pillar of smoke giving us a play-by-play of all that we are to do? Not likely. W are to live lives abiding in Christ daily, seeing that as we do, we bear fruit that is honoring to Him. We don't do this so we may receive every detail of every decision we are to make. Rather, we do this because our meaning and purpose in this life are to bring God glory in all that we do and to enjoy Him forever through His great grace shown to us in Jesus.
There will be decisions we make that result in what seems like insurmountable negative consequences. There will also be others that seem to work out with utter perfection. Whether we are making a choice between the next job, a spouse, a car to buy, or the food we are to eat in the evening, our heart's aim should always be to seek, praise, and bring glory to our Holy God. Rest in the embrace of a God who promises that even in our still infallible nature as Christians He works together all things for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
Sometimes a decision will be clear and easy. Other times it might require stepping out in faith while seeking to bring God glory in each moment. Regardless, remind yourself that we as Christians are "His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:10) So, friends, I press on us today that before we are even faced with the decisions of each day, that we ought to delight in His grace, goodness, sovereignty, and steadfast love; praising, seeking, and resting in Him above all things.