Decisions, the ones that really matter, are difficult. And no matter how hard we try to view a situation objectively, more often than not, each choice will be enmeshed in emotion and obligation, tainted by our sinful nature, and … hopefully, ultimately resting on a desire to be obedient.
So how can we separate the latter from the former? Is that even possible? What are some steps we can take to surrender our will to Christ’s and zero in on His guidance?
First, we need to understand that we are, by nature, sinful people, prone to pride, selfishness, and self-deception. If not dealt with, these sins have the capacity to squelch the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, the first step is prayer, asking God to cleanse our hearts.
Consider making Psalm 19:12-14 a daily prayer, especially during times of indecision.
“How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to You, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (NLT).
The next step, which is an ongoing one, is to listen.
Throughout Scripture, God promises to lead and guide us. Isaiah 30:21 says, “Your own ears will hear Him. Right behind you a voice will say, ‘This is the way you should go,’ whether to the right or to the left” (NLT).
Sometimes God will guide us by gently whispering to our heart. Many times He’ll speak to us through Scripture, and He might turn or strengthen our hearts through the lyrics of a song or the words of a sermon. In fact, many times, He will use all of these ways to reveal, then confirm, His will.
The third step is to seek wise counsel.
In our independent-minded culture, this can be hard. Society tells us we should have all the answers, and pride tells us to pretend like we have it all together. But Scripture encourages us to lean on and learn from one another, to be interdependent.
Proverbs 12:15 says, “Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others” (NLT).
The fourth step is to ask for confirmation.
It’s been said that God always confirms His will. Some say He’ll do this at least three times or in three different ways. I don’t know if there’s biblical support for this, but there is evidence of God’s followers asking for confirmation and receiving it. Perhaps the most well-known is God’s interaction with a man named Gideon.
You can read the entire account in Judges chapter six, but in short, God asked Gideon, a man He found hiding in a winepress, to lead the Israelites in battle against an oppressive people group known as the Midianites. Terrified, Gideon asked God for confirmation three times (Judges 6:17, 36-40). Rather than getting angry with Him, God provided Gideon with the confirmation he requested.
From this, I think it’s fair to assume God doesn’t mind when we ask for assurance that we have indeed heard Him correctly. However, we need to be careful our questions aren’t stalling tactics in disguise, because eventually, the time for clarification will end and God will want us to act. That time might feel unsettling, maybe even frightening, but if we’ve purified our heart before Christ, listened for His guidance, sought wise counsel, asked for confirmation, and are responding accordingly, we can rest assured that we are stepping forward in God’s will.