Like most people, I suppose, throughout my life, there have been many times when confusion, or doubt, or wondering, or just not being absolutely sure about some decision I had to make caused me to worry. Once, when I was debating in my mind the wisdom of buying a particular car, I called my dad to get his take on it. I will never forget his response.
He said, “There are some times in our lives when we need divine guidance on a decision we need to make; there are other times when we don’t need divine guidance. We just need common sense. When you think of buying this car, do you need divine guidance? Or do you need common sense?”
Well, as we continued to talk, it became evident that I needed to use the sense God had already given me to make my decision. Could I afford the payments? Was the condition of the car acceptable? How about the mileage? How about the tires? There were so many questions I could have asked about the car. Questions that could easily have been answered by applying life experience, practicality, and general knowledge, if I took the time and made the effort to sort out the elements of a good decision. God sees every decision I’ve ever made or will make, but I don’t believe he’s particularly passionate about what color shirt I pick out to wear in the morning, or what kind of bread I may choose at the grocery store. Common sense will help me with that.
However, sometimes the decisions we are faced with are not as simple as going to the store to buy a loaf of bread. Should I move to a new town? Should I accept a new job that’s been offered to me? When should I retire? Or, should I ever retire?
Those kinds of ‘should I’ or ‘shouldn’t I’ questions can involve assessing and evaluating the liberty and freedom we have in Christ. But sometimes, I may also need to factor other elements into the equation of decision-making. There are specific instructions in God’s word about so many of the things we are responsible for successfully navigating in life.
Over the years of my ministry, I’ve been asked many times, for example, “How do I know for sure that he or she is the right person I’m supposed to marry?” Or, “How do I know for sure that God is calling me to the mission field?” It is at those moments, or those seeming crossroads that two important truths become central to the thinking of any servant of Jesus.
First, I can ask God for wisdom, and be absolute certain he will provide it. James says, in the Book that anyone lacking wisdom can ask of God, who dispenses it liberally to all who ask. God is gracious, and he loves planting his wisdom deep in our hearts. But there is another important truth. While we can be absolutely certain he will provide wisdom, we can never escape the reality that we walk, not by sight, but by faith. We can count on God’s wisdom when we ask for it; we can count on the reality that we walk this path by faith and not sight. And we can positively count on one more thing: all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose. Rom. 8:28