Several years ago, a dear friend came to me with a ministry opportunity. She and I had served together for several years, and we had become quite close through that. I loved her heart for the people we served, and I admired the wisdom and grace with which she led. She was teaching me so much, and I could see how God was using her to minister to so many. So, you can imagine the disappointment I felt when she began talking about feeling led to step out of the ministry. I prayed and prayed and prayed that God would raise up another woman just like her to fill her place, and I was confident that God would do that. But I will admit, that I was completely caught off guard several months later when she told me that she had been praying, and God told her that I was the one to take her place. Completely . . . caught off guard . . . Caught off guard so much that I’m pretty sure I laughed at her before giving her my immediate no. Her response? She just gave me this knowing smile and told me to pray on it. So, out of respect for her, I did. I prayed on it. I prayed on it not just for a few days or a few weeks. I prayed on it for almost a year. A year. And every time I prayed, I felt conflicted, and I felt anxious. Why? When it came down to it, I was afraid. I was afraid that I might fail. I was afraid that I wouldn’t do the job as well as she had and in doing so would not only fail her, but fail the very people I served. And if I took this position in the ministry and failed at it, wouldn’t I also be failing God? I mean, if He had really told her that I was the one, and then I couldn’t do it . . . ? The thought of failing God, was more than my heart could bear.
Can you relate at all? Have you ever felt anxious, lost sleep, or felt so conflicted as you wrestled with a decision? Have you ever wondered which path before you was the one that God had for you? Have you ever been afraid to say yes because you were afraid you might fail? Have you ever been afraid to say no because you feared that no would take you off of the path God had for you? I think many of us have this desire within us to be living our lives in God’s will all of the time, and we want to 100% sure that we are making the right choices all of the time. But, how can we be confident that we are making the right decision?
First, it is important to remember that there will never be a perfect decision. Ever. A perfect decision implies that a decision is completely flawless and will have no difficulties associated with it at all. Have you ever made a decision like that? A perfect decision? I haven’t. Every decision, even those really good ones, have some elements of difficulty that come along with them. Remember my story about buying my daughter a horse? That has proven to be a good decision. Yet, we have faced some difficulties associated with that decision. Just a couple of weeks, our sweet little pony decided to buck during the middle of a ride. Thankfully, my daughter hung on, but it was not something I would expect that would come with a “perfect” decision. On the flip side, poor decisions can have some elements of good in them. Have you ever made a poor decision for yourself, walked through a difficult time because of it, and then came out on the other side and were able to see the valuable lessons learned through that decision? I have. Many times. We need to remember that perfect decisions do not exist and that there are good and bad elements to every decision.
Secondly, we need to remember that we will not always make the right choice. We are going to make mistakes. But that’s all that they are. Mistakes. Lysa Terkeurst says,
“If you desire to please God with the decisions you make and afterward it proves to be a mistake, it’s an error not an end.”
It’s an error, not an end. Sometimes I get it in my head that if I make the wrong choice, I’m going to completely mess up God’s plan. Did you hear what I just said? That I would mess up God’s plan. Who am I that I could mess up the plans of the Creator of the universe? I can’t. And neither can you. I love something else, Lysa said. She said,
“My imperfections will never override God’s promises. God’s promises are not dependent on my ability to always choose well, but rather on His ability to use well.”
Hear that again. “God’s promises are not dependent on my ability to always choose well, but rather on His ability to use well.” I cannot mess up God’s plans. He is going to accomplish what He sets out to accomplish regardless if I am on board or not. He is going to accomplish what He sets out to accomplish regardless of whether I make the right decisions or not. He will get done what He intends to get done. And those things He intends to get done? They are for the good of the people He desperately loves. The book of Romans reminds us,
“And we know that for those who love God, that is, for those who are called according to his purpose, all things are working together for good.”
Romans 8:28 (ISV)
It might be for my good or it might be for someone else’s good. All things . . . all things are working together for good. Even . . . those mistakes I make. God can turn those around and use them for good. Remember, your mistakes, they are errors, but not an end.
Thirdly, we need to remember that God can always be trusted. Always. We are told in Psalms,
“Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you.”
Psalm 9:10 (NLT),
Whatever decision we are facing, we can trust God with the outcome. If I make a good decision, God can be trusted with the outcome. If I make a poor decision, God can still be trusted with the outcome. Lysa Terkeurst said this,
“If I’m trusting myself, I will stare at all the possible ways I could fail. If I’m trusting God, I will stare at all the possible ways He’ll use this whether I fail or succeed.”
This reminds me of the story of Peter found in Matthew 14 (VOICE). After Jesus feeds the five thousand, he sends the disciples out on a boat and heads up the mountainside to be alone to pray. In the middle of the night, the disciples look out over the water and see Jesus walking towards them. Yet, they don’t recognize that it’s him and believe they are seeing a ghost. Jesus calls out to them and says,
“It is I. You have nothing to fear.”
Peter calls out to Jesus and says,
“Lord, if it is really You, then command me to meet You on the water.”
Jesus beckons Peter to come to him . . . to walk on the water. Peter begins walking towards Jesus. But then, the wind and the waves grab his attention, and Peter turns his eyes away from Jesus. What happens? He immediately begins to sink. Peter calls out to Jesus to help him, and Jesus pulls Peter from the water. Jesus then looks him in the eyes and says,
“O you of little faith. Why did you doubt and dance back and forth between following Me and heeding fear?”
How often do we dance back and forth between following Him and giving into our fear? How often do we choose not to trust Him with the outcome? Take a moment and check out the following Skit Guys video about trust. https://skitguys.com/videos/trust-fall. Did you see yourself in the video like I did?
How often do we give in to our fear? How often do we give into our fear and not trust Him? Remember back to the beginning of the year when I asked you to think about that one thing that stirs your heart and that you wish you could do? What is holding you back from doing it? It may be that the current season of life you are in right now isn’t a good fit. Or maybe, financially you just can’t swing it right now. But, let me ask you this. Is it fear that is holding you back from doing that thing that you desperately wish you could do? Is it the fear of failing that is keeping you from saying yes to that opportunity God has placed before you?
Whatever decisions you have before you, I encourage you to do several things. First, really think about those decisions and pray on them. Think about the demands that those yeses will take and any consequences that may come from them. And . . . pray on them. Really pray on them. Ask God if this is a best yes for you now in this current season. Then, have the confidence to step out and make the decision. Make the decision and be confident that you made a good decision. How can we be confident? If we are living our lives in a way that honors God, we can trust Him with the outcome of each and every decision. Each and every one. Proverbs 3 gives us this promise:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)
Trust Him. Trust Him enough to confidently say yes or confidently say no. Then trust that He is big enough to take care of the rest.
Terkeurst, Lysa. The Best Yes, Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands. Nashville, Nelson Books, 2014.