Written by Nahomi Dhinakar on 12-02-2020
Imagine that a three-year old was negotiating her way through the crowds in a busy railway station like Old Delhi Railway Station to reach a particular spot on the platform. As she walked, along the way she found trolleys and baggage and even people sitting on the ground. Whenever she came across an obstacle, she had to choose whether to go to the left or to the right. In much the same way, we make our way through life towards heaven, bewildered by the choices we need to make along the way. Every now and then, we find ourselves at crossroads in life, where decisions can be life altering. Should I accept this job offer? What career should I choose? Which university should I study in? Who should I marry? Can we know, with any measure of confidence, what God would want us to choose?
God reveals His will to a particular people
Shocking as it may sound, God does not promise to reveal His will and directions to everyone.
“The humble He guides in justice, and the humble He teaches His way . . . who is the man that fears the LORD? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses . . . The secret of the LORD is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant” (Psalm 25:9-14).“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Perhaps the most loved passage of scripture through the ages is the 23rd Psalm, which is also known as the Shepherd’s Psalm. The moment they hear those opening lines, God’s people feel comforted. “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters” (Psalm 23:1-2). It is to this Shepherd we must turn for guidance and leading at the crossroads of life. We know more about this Shepherd, don’t we? The apostle John recorded what Jesus said about this matter. “. . . I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I (Jesus) am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (John 10:10-11). Is Jesus your Shepherd? Do you believe that the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth to die for the sins of His people? Jesus went on to say, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27-28).
If Jesus is your Shepherd, then you belong to that select group of people to whom God reveals His will. But how does He do this?
God reveals His will through the Bible with the help of the Holy Spirit Who indwells us
Most of us are very familiar with the scripture: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105). We also know that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
So we understand that God guides us through the scriptures, but then we find that the Bible does not address our specific situations. This means that we have to apply Biblical principles to our situations. Therein lies the problem. How do we apply Biblical principles to specific situations? The solution is to meditate on the word and rely on the Holy Spirit. God has given the Holy Spirit to indwell in each of His children, and one of the ministries of the Holy Spirit is to help us understand the scriptures. You see, the writings of this compilation that we call the Bible were all written by men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit. By the same token, we need the Spirit’s help to understand the Bible and apply it.
As we spend time with the scriptures, with the Holy Spirit guiding from within us, our mind undergoes a revamping. The more we are acquainted with God’s word, the more we are able to decide matters from a spiritual perspective. We slowly start looking at things the way Jesus would, in other words, we begin to have the mind of Christ. Paul also calls this the ‘renewing of your mind' (Romans 12:2) or ‘being renewed in the spirit of your mind‘ (Ephesians 4:23).
God wants us to take matters to Him in prayer
That we need to take our worries to God in prayer is a no-brainer. Only God knows how things will play out, and it is to Him we must go with all our concerns. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God" (Phil 4:6). We are also told that we can ask the Lord for wisdom, and He is generous when it comes to good gifts. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally . . .” (James 1:5). As people who are accustomed to walking with God and looking at life through a godly lens, we can be at peace, with a calmness that comes from knowing that God has our back..
God can direct us through wise counsel
Speaking of wisdom, the Bible tells us that it is wise to seek advice from knowledgeable people around us. This could include your pastor or other godly people in your life. "Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety" (Proverbs 11:14).
"Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand" (Proverbs 19:20-21).
Choosing the godly path
Finally, when the time comes to choose the path, here are some pointers:
Choose the path of obedience:
Do not break any express command of God and expect Him to bless you. If you are tempted to embark on a path that is clearly sinful, stop and choose the path of obedience. As a sample, here are some commands that we must obey.
"Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers" (2 Corinthians 6:14a). This is a command that warns against the coming together of a believer and unbeliever in a close relationship. It is especially pertinent in the context of marriage. So young people, refrain from becoming romantically involved with anyone who does not love Jesus. It is very difficult for the unbelieving partner to understand that your heart belongs to the Lord. This is not about discriminating against people of other castes and communities. [Christians must never be party to such discrimination, which is unChristlike and ugly.]
"Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed" (Romans 13:7a). This is a command that believers must obey. Do not try to dodge the paying of your taxes. Stay away from black money and any other form of dishonesty. This is reiterated in the epistle to the Hebrews. "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have” (Hebrews 13:5a).
"Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since you see that the Day of the Lord is coming nearer" (Hebrews 10:25). This verse shows us the importance of meeting with believers on the Lord’s day, something that is important to consider when choosing one’s profession or job. This is not to imply that working on Sundays is necessarily sinful. We are thankful for the essential services that we enjoy on Sundays. We are grateful to the nurses and doctors who work over the weekend. But people who work on Sundays are at a great disadvantage, being unable to join in corporate worship and enjoy the fellowship of other believers. As a rule of thumb, unless it is a temporary stepping-stone job or a service-oriented job, the ability to be free on the Lord’s day to go to church ought to be a key criterion when looking for a job.
Choose the path that glorifies God the most
The following scriptures could be helpful.: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
“Flee from sexual immorality. . . Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).
Bringing the matter to a conclusion
Let us get back to Old Delhi Railway station where we left the three-year old to negotiate her way through the crowded platform, taking a left turn here and a right turn there to avoid baggage and people in her path. You may wonder why this little girl was given this formidable task. I did not mention that her parents were following two feet behind her. Whether she stepped to the left or to the right did not matter much to her parents. This was because, for one, she was moving generally towards the spot they wanted to reach, and two, they were completely in control of the situation; no possible harm could come to her.
So it is with us and many of the so-called important decisions we make in our lives. Whether we take History or Commerce in university, whether we settle for an individual house or buy an apartment, whether we plan to have two children or three, or whatever else it is, if after weighing the pros and cons from a spiritual perspective as best as we can, we make a decision, God will allow us to take that path only if it is His will. We must not fear a wrong decision for we have our heavenly Father close at hand and watching us.
I have not ever faced a situation where I had two choices that were equally good from all angles, where I simply could not decide the path to take. But if I ever do face such a situation, I would probably just take any one of the choices, albeit with prayer, and know that I would be doing God’s will anyway. God is Sovereign and He is able to convert any wrong decision for good in our lives. This brings us to a well-known and well-loved verse. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).