Help for Making Hard Decisions

I still remember sitting at my youth leader's kitchen table, a senior in high school, worrying about having to choose a college. A deadline was quickly approaching, and I was frustrated that God didn't send a messenger who would put me out of my misery by telling me which one to pick.

I was passionate about fulfilling God's will for my life. I knew He was placing desires and dreams in my heart. But I also thought achieving those big, huge, massive dreams hinged on just a few big, huge, massive decisions in life.

God walks with us, blesses our faithfulness, and directs our hearts when we don’t even realize it.

And I was really scared to make those big decisions. I didn't want to make the wrong choice, the one that would lead me down an entirely different path, far far away from my dreams and goals. I wanted a sign. Something from God that said: "Pick this one!"

Why doesn't He give us heavenly road markers? Why did this feel like a guessing game? If I picked Door #1, would I be blessed? If I picked Door #2, would I be smacked in the face with failure and disappointment?

Is This a Game Show?

We make things complicated, don't we? We become Gideons, holding out our fleece, demanding or begging for God to give us a sign. (If you don't know Gideon's story, check it out in Judges 6). We let stress eat our insides because we're still waiting for "The Right Thing" to show up.

Hold up. Do stressed-out insides sound like God's will for us?

The truth is, we're not contestants on God's game show. He's not dangling the prize of His will in front of us while we try to buy a vowel and solve the puzzle. We don't spin the wheel and see where we land. We don't wager our money in double jeopardy. God doesn't watch us, wondering if we'll pick the right door.

God walks with us. God blesses our faithfulness. God directs our hearts when we don't even realize it. He answers our prayers, and He orchestrates good things.

Decisions, Decisions

Are you trying to make a decision that honors God? Are you stuck and stressed and so not sure what to do? Can I set you free from unnecessary agonizing? It's time to let truth take over.

1. God is for you.

He shows compassion on His children. And He'll use you to accomplish His purposes. That's way too cool. I love what this verse says: "For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him" (Ps. 103:11).

2. God doesn't want you stuck in analysis paralysis.

Does God want us to seek Him in prayer? Yes. Does He want us to make thoughtful decisions? Absolutely. But His intention for us isn't to get so stuck on somehow revealing His will to us. Kevin DeYoung explains this well in his book, Just Do Something. He says, "Obsessing over the future is not how God wants us to live, because showing us the future is not God's way. His way is to speak to us in the Scriptures and transform us by the renewing of our minds. His way is not a crystal ball. His way is wisdom."

3. Life is about Jesus and not our dreams.

This is gospel truth. Jesus told His disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it" (Matt. 16:24–25). If we'd rather cling to our own dreams, we'll be pretty lost and not very fruitful. This has to be the basis of our thinking as we're making decisions. A solid question to ask: Will this choice further Jesus' mission or my own?

4. Daily faithfulness makes big choices not so big.

As I look back on the last four years of my life, I'm amazed to see how God led me, little by little. I didn't do anything big. I just took the next step. As Elisabeth Elliot would say, "Do the next thing." Be faithful in the little things, the daily things. As you're following God, loving Him, and knowing Him, the fog of decision-making may start to lift.

5. Don't underestimate prayer and Scripture.

Could it be presumptuous of us to think we need a sign from God when we already have His Word? It's packed with wisdom from above (James 1). It won't tell you which college to pick, or which guy you should marry, but it will tell you about God's law and His perfect wisdom. Study it. Know it. Not just for answers to your dilemmas, but for a deeper relationship with Christ.

Have I mastered this list? Not even close. I'm working through these things with you.

And, just for kicks, here's some bonus help in your decision-making process.

  1. Tim Challies wrote a great post called "Why Making Decisions Is So Hard." It kind of smacked me in the face with all sorts of rebuking.
  2. Release the pressure valve of perfection. Really. Just stop trying to make the perfect decision. Make good, godly decisions.
  3. Take some risks! Of course, don't forsake wisdom—but don't be too afraid to try big things—especially if it will further the Kingdom.
  4. Do this: read Kevin DeYoung's book, Just Do Something. I'm a big fan. I hope it helps you like it's helped me!
  5. Memorize and pray through Psalm 138. The Lord will fulfill His purpose for you. Seek Him!

What kind of decisions are you working through? Are you working through doubts and fears? How is God showing His faithfulness to you?

About the Author

Samantha Keller

Samantha Keller loves lazy lake days, strong coffee, and writing about the ways Jesus transforms our everyday messes into beautiful stories. She digs the four seasons in northern Indiana, is probably wearing a Notre Dame crew neck.