This article captures a devotion that Elder Sally Trabulsi shared as the Session began its February 2017 meeting before considering how to proceed with calling a pastor to serve with First Presbyterian Church of Allegan.
Life is full of tough decisions. Is it any wonder that congregation members have difficulty responding when asked what the church should look like in the future? For each of us has gone through a lifetime full of tough decisions, and we hesitate every time to make a choice. People hate making decisions, mostly because we’re terrified of making the wrong one.
Choosing thrills us. Choosing scares us. Choosing comes from the core of who we are. When we truly choose, we have no one to blame and nowhere to hide. And that can be downright terrifying.
Have you ever been to a restaurant and had the waiter respond to every choice you made by saying brilliant or perfect or excellent decision? This happened so steadily throughout one gentleman’s meal that he finally asked the waiter if he ever told anyone they made a lousy choice. The waiter replied that the restaurant managers had discovered diners are so afraid of choosing the wrong thing that they actually print a list of “affirmation words” that the wait staff is required to say in response to everyone’s order. Think about that. Even a question as simple as “soup or salad?” renders us so vulnerable that restaurants have to turn their wait staff into therapists!
In a way, we do the same thing with God. Terrified of making a bad decision, we lay all of our choices at God’s feet and ask Him “what is Your will for my life” or, in our case, “what is Your will for our church.” But what if God’s will for us is that we develop the wisdom and discernment to make our own decisions in light of His Word, and the faith and confidence to know He will be there guiding us regardless of which path we choose? Doesn’t that sound freeing?
God wants us to learn how to choose well. That may be why, when we look at the Bible, there is no chapter devoted to How to Know God’s Will for Your Life and Paul doesn’t write about 6 Steps to Determine if He’s the One or 5 Ways to Discern God’s Best Career Path for You. What we do see are statements like:
If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. (James 1:5, NRSV)
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best. (Philippians 1:9-0a, NIV, 1984)
So the next time you face a difficult decision, instead of asking God what His will is for your life, begin by asking for wisdom. And don’t live in fear of making the wrong decision. Even if you walk through the wrong door, as long as you walk through it with the right heart, God’s will will be done.
Remember, God’s will for your life is not about whom, or even if, you should marry, which job you should accept, which neighborhood you should live in, or which church you should go to. God’s will for your life is that you become a magnificent person in His image, somebody with the character of Jesus. And nothing can stand in the way of that.
Here is a prayer you can use when you are having difficulty making a decision. It is what we at Session prayed before we undertook the decision to hire a full-time temporary pastor rather than a half-time one.
We know that You are the God of the open door. Every moment of every day is an opportunity for us to grow and serve and make a positive impact on others. Because of Your love, we don’t have to be afraid of failure nor do we have to live under the tyranny of always making the perfect choice. We can feel depressed, or we can express the joy that is inherent in our faith. We can give up, or we can make a fresh start. We pray You will give us the courage and wisdom to walk through whatever doors You open before us. Thank you for the gift of choice. Thank you for freedom. Thank you for responsibility. Thank you for your Son. Thank you for life. And we pray that through our actions, Your will be done.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.