Recently I’ve had to make a number of bigger decisions. I foresee a few more in my near future. Many well-meaning Christians, when I seek their advice, default to, “Pray about it, and listen to what God says.” Or worse yet, “Be still and know (what) God (wants).”
Except…God doesn’t talk to me.
He never has.
Even at the height of my pseudo-NAR -wannabe-seekertainment-pragmatic church experience, God never spoke to me.
I lied about it, though. Frequently, in fact.
I didn’t want to be left out. All the cool girls were hearing from Jesus – on the regular – and I wanted to be cool and popular, too. So I told people I was hearing from God.
But I wasn’t.
Oh, I was praying and journaling every day. I was having my “be still quiet” time. I pretended that the things I wrote were from God, but…they weren’t. I even taught workshops on journaling, and how to have effective quiet times. I told women what to do in order to hear from God.
But I wrote things straight from my own thoughts and desires. Which, if you’ve ever read the book of James, you know is dangerous, as that is the birthplace of lust and sin and death.
I was hearing from myself. I had made an idol of myself and my pursuit of “hearing” from God. Thankfully, God opened my eyes to that over the past few years, and I have learned a much better method of making decisions, of seeking our Lord.
Instead of sitting in silence, I read Scripture. This is the first step for me in any decision making adventure.
I don’t mean I approach Scripture with a specific decision in mind. I try to read Scripture so regularly and so thoroughly that my mind immediately goes to the Word when I am faced with a decision.
The command to “be still” (which doesn’t apply to “quiet time” anyway) has nothing to do with emptying your mind, as it is so blatantly and incorrectly taught today. In fact, God commands the opposite of being still in 2 Corinthians 10:5 – “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.”
If I am so completely immersed in Scripture, then as soon as I have a decision to make, I should automatically know what will be the right decision – the right way to obey Christ. I don’t need to stop and hope that God mystically speaks to me; I should already know His Word well enough to know what He would want. But sometimes there is more than one way to obey Christ, and that is where step two comes in.
Instead of filling a journal with prideful self-reflection, I seek wise counsel, starting with my husband.
As a wife, I am commanded to respect and submit to my husband. Any decision I make, as a wife (and I cannot divorce this role from any other in my life), directly affects my husband. Should I take on a new leadership role? This will change how often I am home, or how much I am working at home on outside things. Should I volunteer to do something as church? This affects how often we have to be at church, or how often I am focused on things outside of our family.
Sometimes my husband wants me to have more info, so I need to seek information from other who have gone before me. This is where the Titus 2 women in my life (whether physically older or not) can be invaluable. Also, women who are serving in different roles in our different communities can shed light on how different decisions will effect my life, my home, my marriage. Seeking out wise counsel helps me make godly decisions.
Instead of forcing answers from God, I wait (sometimes patiently, sometimes not), and I watch for Him to work. I remind myself of the times He has been faithful, to me and to others.
The most amazing witness of God in my life is the phone call I received telling us a woman wanted us to be the parents of her unborn child. I spent a solid chunk of time that morning begging God for an answer – to be chosen – and 12 hours later, my phone rang.
God answers prayers. He doesn’t always answer them like I want, or in the time frame I want, but He always answers them. ” ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.” (Isaiah 55:8) We do not and cannot always know or understand what God wants – but we can trust that He is good. Sometimes we just have to take the information we have, combine that with the Truth we have, and trust that God gave us a brain for a reason.
Then we make a decision.
Do I make wrong decisions? Yes. But I believe that God is sovereign, and even within my wrong decisions God is working all things together for His purposes and His glory.
Do I rush decisions? Yes. But again, God is sovereign, and He holds it all together. I cannot thwart His plans or purpose.
But God does not talk to me in some sort of mystical way, audible or not. He gave me His Word, wise counsel, and examples to follow. So I guess if that’s what you mean by “let God speak,” then…okay.
But God doesn’t talk to me.
So don’t think you’re alone when you don’t hear anything, either. 😉