After twelve years of living and serving on a tropical southeast Asian island, my husband and I decided to return to the USA and transition into a new phase of ministry. I agonized over this decision for months. It consumed every prayer and conversation for I knew whatever path I chose would affect others.
How thankful I am that God was my guide all those years ago (Psalm 48:14) and that he still leads me in the way I should go (Isaiah 48:17).
Life has contained other big decisions like this one as well as many smaller choices such as whether to volunteer in the church nursery or teach a Bible study group. The process can be messy with multiple twists and turns. Are you facing a big decision? Does the way forward seem cloudy?
Here are some steps that helped me in my decision-making process. Before I expect God to guide me, I examine myself:
- Do I know and trust that he is good and his will is pleasing and perfect? (Romans 12:1–2)
- Do I truly want to do his will, not mine? Am I indifferent to anything but God’s will? (Matthew 26:39–42)
- Do I want his guidance merely for his stamp of approval on my plans or because I intend to obey him? (James 1:22–23)
- Am I growing in my ability to hear his voice? (John 10:3–5)
- Do I seek a balance of all the ways he leads, not just relying on one method?
God guides through his Word (Psalm 119:105; Psalm 119:24). When I sought God’s guidance about leaving the mission field, God pointed both my husband and me to the same verse at separate times in different ways. He most often guides me through scripture.
God also guides through circumstances, what some call “open and closed doors” (Acts 16:6–7). God clearly provided opportunities to serve at our local church and at a counseling center in the area in lieu of our cross-cultural work. In that instance he kindly showed us what we were moving toward, although at other times he has not.
God also guides through the confirmation of others (Proverbs 15:22). My husband and I took several vocational assessments and talked with pastors and mentors. All confirmed that following this new path would be beneficial.
God even guides through his still small voice (Isaiah 30:21; 1 Kings 19:12). In this instance, his Spirit reminded me that he loves the people of hometown USA just as much as the unreached in foreign places squashed my argument that service overseas was the most important vocation.
God guides through the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4; Psalm 145:16, 19). When I saw that my husband possessed gifts commensurate with his desire to become a counselor, I could accept this new route. Because God created each of us with unique skills and passions, doing what we are made for brings life and fulfillment.
And finally, God guides by his peace (Philippians 4:6–7). And after almost a year of searching, peace filled my heart when we finally made the decision.
What decision(s) are you facing now for which you need God’s guidance? What is life-giving? What is life-draining? What might he be saying to you?
You will hear a word spoken behind you, saying, “This is the correct way, walk in it,” whether you are heading to the right or the left.Isaiah 30:21 NET
Lord, show me your ways, teach me your paths. Guide me into your truth and teach me. For you are the God who delivers me; I rely on you all day long (Psalm 25:4–5).