Choosing Correctly

My daughter came to me a few days ago, filled with anxiety over what to do about school. Go back, not go back. Be with teachers and classmates; stay home with mom and dad. It’s all a lot to process for her almost 10-year-old brain. She asked me: “how do you know God’s voice over your own? Because I can’t tell if I am just hearing my own thoughts and what I want to do versus what God wants me to do.”

Oh, sweet girl, this is an age-old question with which even some of the wisest Christians still struggle. It takes practice, lots of practice. And patience and persistence and study and prayer.

Her face looked a bit defeated at my answer. The discernment she sought after seemed out of reach right then. Suddenly, I felt moved to grab her face between my palms, look her in the eyes and say, “my darling, God loves the fact that you are even asking Him what you should do. Sometimes there is no “right” choice. He just wants to be a part of your decision making. Because you are asking for His will before your own, it honors Him even more than the decision itself.”

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. -1 John 5:14   

At that, her face softened, and the tiny corners of her mouth turned up until she couldn’t help but show those pearly whites. It was like a 1000 lb weight lifted from her shoulders at that very moment.

I began to think about how often I worry about getting it “right” and making sure God is pleased with my decision. I am so afraid if I don’t hear Him loud and clear, if I get too far in the wrong direction, that He will abandon me. But it’s in these times I forget who God is. He doesn’t leave His children alone. He won’t let me wander off to a place where I am lost forever. I don’t have to get caught up in overthinking every choice I make.

Oswald Chambers wrote in My Utmost for His Highest:

At critical moments in our lives it is necessary to ask God for guidance, but it should be unnecessary to be constantly saying "Oh Lord, direct me in this, and that." Of course, He will, and in fact, He is doing it already! If our everyday decisions are not according to His will, He will press through them, bringing restraint to our spirit.

In a world filled with so many choices and uncertainties, it can feel overwhelming to know which way to go—trying to hear God can be even harder amidst the noise. But God is a good God who doesn’t let you go down an unrecoverable path. He goes before, and behind you, and all around you, whether or not you “hear” His voice clearly. And He loves to be your guide!

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. - Isaiah 30:21

1. Stop stressing. Make every effort to honor God with your life and trust He will guide you. Do you trust Him? 

2. Practice in the little decisions. There are not many things that are life and death. But if you want to flex your discernment muscle, try inviting God into the little day-to-day decisions first. When it comes to the bigger things, you will have built up some stamina.

3. Make a decision. Pray for clarity and wisdom. Make a choice based on past experience, guided council, and what's written in the Bible. If there is no clear-cut right answer, choose one and go with it.


JL McCarthy

July 21, 2020