I have logged a lifetime of hours determining and deciding if a specific direction is consistent with God’s plan for my life.
I am often challenged with the thought that there is a one and only path of God’s perfect will. It’s difficult for me to think that I can have certainty in knowing God’s will, when knowing God’s mind and decision-making process is almost impossible. His thoughts are eternal while mine are temporal. His thoughts are comprehensive while mine are limited.
There are specific decisions that conform to His will: giving thanks in all situations (I Thess 5:18), serving others faithfully (Eph 6:6), moral purity (I Thess 4:3), and suffering for doing right (I Pet 3:17).
God blesses us because of our desire to please Him, as opposed to all the perfect decisions we make. The psalmist reminds us, “Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you your heart’s desires.” (Ps 37:4 NLT)
For me, it’s having a mind that’s accurately focused. I must keep my head right. It’s not being conformed to frustrating thought patterns but being transformed by renewing my mind that frees me to understand the good and acceptable will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)
I must have a Kingdom mentality when considering a vocational change. What am I going after? Am I solely pursuing money or recognition or security? Those can become traps. My primary purpose is to seek His Kingdom. Can my work positively impact people for the Kingdom?
Also, I need to ask myself if I have the “staying power” in looking at a new direction. Not just financially, but emotionally and relationally. That’s where “counting to cost” comes in.
Bottom line . . . if I have a good gut feeling and a peace, I usually go for it.
For me, it’s also having a heart that’s free of fear. The teaching of Jesus tells us that the enemy of our soul’s intent is to kill, steal and destroy. (John 10:10). In most every situation, our enemy starts the process of distraction, discouragement or destruction with paralyzing and perplexing fear.
The psalmist reminds us, “But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.” (Ps 56:3 NLT). Augustine wrote, “Fear is the response of the human heart when it’s one thing is threatened.”
Fear is a subtle snare of our enemy. It traps us with terror that will tear the very fiber of our faith. Solomon wisely instructs, “Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting The Lord means safety.” (Proverbs 29:25 NLT). A. B. Simpson writes, “Fear is born of Satan, and if we would only take time to think a moment we would see that everything Satan says is founded upon a falsehood. Every fear is distrust, and trust is the remedy for fear.”
How do we know when our trust has given way to timidity? How do we know when fear has replaced our faith?
God calls us to calm. Proverbs reminds us, “But all who listen to Me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm.” (Prov 1:33 NLT) Spurgeon writes, “Whether the fear arise from without or within, from past, present, or future, from temporals, or spirituals, from men or devils, let us maintain faith, and we shall soon recover courage.”
God commits His calm and courage in the confusion of our chaos. Jesus tells us, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27 NLT).
Here are some evidences that fear may be eroding your faith.
We Become Stalled. Simply, we find ourselves spinning our wheels. Or, we stop dead in our tracks. Where once we were moving forward with determination and confidence, now we are stopped by indecision and concern. Faith moves us with anticipation . . . fear maims with anxiety. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” He also said, “If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. But, whatever you do, keep moving.”
We Get Sidetracked. A real estate tycoon writes, “Don’t get sidetracked. If you do get sidetracked, get back on track as soon as possible. Ultimately sidetracking kills you.” Engaging in the acceptable never takes the place of embracing the absolute. Losing focus begins to erode our faith. The author of Hebrews writes, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb 12:2 NIV)
We Take Short Cuts. This is the one that hits home to me. There are times when my way becomes the easy, efficient and explainable course of action. It becomes what I want in the short race . . . not what God wants in the marathon. In “He Still Moves Stones”, Max Lucado writes, “Faith is not the belief that God will do what you want. It is the belief that God will do what is right.”
We Focus On Scars. Our past pain can be paralyzing. Past wounds can heal . . . but they always leave scars. Chris Guillebeau writes that when scarred by hurt “some people fail to recover. They end up emotionally or spiritually paralyzed, unable to get beyond the hurt they feel even after a long amount of time.” We have the assurance that God will make our scars of hurt into His stories of healing. The psalmist writes, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3)
Paul reminds us, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Tim 1:7 NLT). Fear cannot thrive where faith is alive. To survive in our fears, we must surrender to faith. His word is true, tested and tried . . . He has not given us fear, but love. John encourages us, “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” (1 John 4:18 NLT)
We rest in His promise, in His passion and in His rock-solid, always powerful hands that never let go.
It’s time for faithful advancing . . . not fearful anxiety.