Working with young people I am often asked questions about making decisions for the future. Things like what job to take, where to live and who or when to marry all come up pretty frequently. These are some pretty important questions! We usually don’t sit and contemplate what we will eat for breakfast tomorrow morning, (sometimes I do just because I love food so much), but rather questions that will profoundly impact our lives.
Because of the seriousness of these questions I think we are all interested in what’s next. We all believe the future will in some way be better, brighter or more fulfilling than today, (even if today was great!). We even fear the future because we can’t completely control it or fully know it until it’s the present. The future is inevitable, so figuring out what’s next in life is pretty important.
So how do we really know what we should do? How can we know the answer to those difficult future oriented questions? Well for non-Christians out there I am sorry to say I don’t really know what to tell you. If our universe is based on randomness, chaos and chance like atheism wants to claim, then my best advise for you when you encounter these difficult life decisions is just to roll a dice or flip a coin. If our existence is only based on chance, then our decisions should be as well. With no God, we should make the decision that brings the most gain or pleasure, (sounds a lot like the American dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness), or just leave it up to chance.
But for Christians, we know the universe did not just randomly happen. We know there is a loving, personal Creator who holds everything in place. And we know He has a plan for each of our lives. But what is it? While God did not speak to me and tell me the specific plan He has for each of you, He did give us His Word which provides a lot of good advise for us as we seek to answer these difficult questions.
First, we need to understand we CANNOT earn or lose God’s favor based on a decision we make. Ephesians 2:8-9 is clear that we are saved by grace alone. If you think God loves you more or less based on what you decide, (even sinful decisions!), then you don’t understand Jesus or His Gospel of Grace. Likewise, we must remember that nothing we do will shock God. We sometimes think we will make the wrong decision and God will be astounded by it. It’s not like God is up in heaven saying, “No way! I had no idea Dustin would actually move to China.” If you think your decisions surprise or influence God’s love for you then you either think too highly of yourself or too lowly of God.
Secondly, God has given us lots of useful resources in order to make these decisions. Psalm 119:105 says “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” and Proverbs 13:20 says “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools suffers harm.” Also check out Matthew 7:7-11 and John 14:26. God has given us His Word, a fellowship of believers in His Church, His Holy Spirit to live in us and the ability to speak to Him directly through prayer. Each of these resources guides us as we make important decisions.
Finally, Romans 12:1-2: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
This is probably the most quoted verse on knowing God’s will in all Scripture. But what does it tell us? Plain and simple, knowing God’s will is knowing, loving and serving God. Terms like “living sacrifices” and “do not be conformed to this world” show us that if we want to know how to answer important life questions, we need not look at them as the world does but rather as unto the Lord. We do not try and make the right decisions in order to know and love Jesus but rather we know and love Jesus in order to make the right decisions! When Jesus is your ultimate joy and purpose in deciding what job, where to live and who or when to get married then you are seeking and knowing God’s will for your life!
So I challenge you all in the midst of whatever large looming life decision awaits to remember that your decision does not define you, Jesus does. Remember that Jesus can love you no more or no less because He already perfectly loves you. May you use the plethora of resources God has laid at your disposal to seek after Him and His plans. And finally, may you all remember that the right decision isn’t based on which is right but rather on who’s glory you are seeking. May we all know God’s perfect will for our lives as we find our joy in seeking to glorify Jesus Christ.