by Alastair Sterne
June 11, 2012
5 min read
How do you go about making decisions? Life brings decision after decision our way. It can be as simple as choosing a brand of cereal (Frosted Flakes or Cinnamon Toast Crunch) or a type of tooth paste (that’s easily for me, my only option is Sensodyne; I have old man teeth). Decisions can be complex: deciding who to marry, or when to start having babies. The most daunting of decisions, for me, are the ones between good options. It can’t be as flippant as flipping a coin, or closing our eyes and grabbing whatever box of cereal is in front of us (who wants to end up with All Bran?). If you’re like me, maybe you make a pros and cons list. But what do you do when the list is pretty much equal and you have two, or three, or four good options in front of you? How do you go about making a decision then?
If we remain indecisive for too long, we end up robbed of joy and contentment as we bounce back and forth between the options before us. The waters of decisions can be good, a time of refining. But if we wrestle in them too long we find ourselves tired, confused, anxious, and even angry. After all, we can only tread water so long before our bodies give way.
I have had to make a lot of decisions since we’ve begun this whole church planting adventure. Some have been easy, some have been complicated, but none the less decisions are being made. I have turned to prayer, to Scripture, to what I know of God’s wisdom, to the counsel of mentors and directors. Yet in some decisions God has remained silent. I am in the tension, the thick of it, waiting for resolve. Sometimes I do everything “right” and hear nothing. So I have committed to waiting, as patiently as I can (but realistically quite impatiently); attempting to trust God’s discretion. I have been keeping my eyes peeled for a sign, or some sense of confirmation, or even calling. I have been waiting for an Ah-ha! moment, or writing on the wall.
Yet God remains silent. So I gave up. Or more accurately, my legs gave out and I sank. I couldn’t deal with the uncertainty any longer. It was sink or swim, and I had exhausted myself while trying to decide what direction to swim that I ended up sinking by default.
And then it happened.
One day, out of nowhere, I felt peace about the decisions at hand. Peace. It was so unexpected. I didn’t realize how my constant questioning and consideration of every angle had robbed me of contentment. I assumed God would answer in a “do this” sort of fashion. But there was no booming voice from the sky, there was just peace.
It was such a surprising, and spectacular response from God to my seeking an answer. A clear answer didn’t even emerge. At my point of giving up, I sank into the peace of God, into his grace.
This experience reminded me of one of my favourite passages in Scripture. Philippians 4:4-7 is Paul’s marvelous exhortation to turn to rejoicing, prayer and thanksgiving rather than giving way to our anxiety. Yet the best part is verse 7: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.
This is exactly what we are actually after when trying to make decisions. Too often we make decisions based on our understanding, our own ability, our preferences; basically based on self reliance. We get caught up with the “what should we do” or the “yes” or the “no”. Something so much better is available to us: the peace of God.
What is the peace of God?
It is the peace of being in Christ Jesus. It is the peace of knowing that God has done everything for us and has eliminated all strife between us and him. There is no war or enmity between God and those who are in Christ. There is only one thing: peace.
The peace of God keeps weary hearts steady, or troubled minds still. When I am filled with the peace of knowing that God, in his great love for us, sought even me and bought me at the cost of Jesus’ blood, I know that no matter where life may take me one thing is certain: nothing can separate me from the love of God and nothing can rob me of the peace of God.
What does this have to do with making decisions?
When we’re stuck in the decision making process we can enter into a posture of humility and a recognition of our need for God. It is a grand opportunity to rest in his peace and to let decisions flow from that place rather than from a place of anxiety and pressure.
The pressure is off. God has lead you to where you are today, and will lead you into the future. All is well, even when all is not yet resolved. All you have to to do, and indeed all you can do, is take one step of faithfulness at a time as God leads you deeper in this love and grace.