I have a really bad tendency to rush into decisions without first praying to God. I mean, I might mutter a prayer, saying something along the lines of “Jesus, show me Your will and what You would have me do.” Sounds great, right? Maybe it would be if I actually surrendered and waited around to hear God’s answer.
Right now I’m struggling with a pretty big decision that affects my college years, my major, and potentially my future (just because it’s so up in the air right now, I won’t go into any further detail). And, to make matters worse, I have to decide what to do really soon.
It’s not the prime situation for waiting around for God’s answer.
But I have to give myself a perspective shift.
Isaiah 55:8-9 says:
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts” (NLT).
Whatever plans I might want to make in the next couple weeks are nothing compared to God’s plans. Whatever hopes, aspirations, dreams I have cannot even stack up to what God has in store for me.
When it comes to deciding the course of my life, I am an utter fool.
Therefore, no matter how long God makes me wait, I simply must wait on His answer. I can’t move forward without it. To do so would be insanity.
But let’s say I’ve fully realized that I can trust no one but God to determine the course of my life and that I wholeheartedly believe that. Now what? What does waiting on God’s answer look like?
First, I cannot rush into anything.
Patience is hard, I know, especially when there are looming deadlines and other external forces that seem to be constantly pushing you towards making a fast decision.
But all too frequently, God’s timing is not the same as the timing of the world, so we must be willing to wait on God. No matter how hard it is now, in the end, I promise it will be so, so much better.
In all that waiting, I have to pray.
If I’m waiting around, relying on myself to think logically and make whatever decision feels right to me, it’s all for nothing. That time of waiting can only be spent in prayer.
There’s a saying going around that says something like: Prayer isn’t saying; it’s relinquishing. (I can’t find the exact quote, so I’ve paraphrased.)
And, really, that sounds so simple, but it’s powerful. All too often, my prayers are just me telling God all about my life, asking Him to help me, and then saying “Amen” and moving on. But what is prayer without surrender?
I’m hesitant to say that it’s totally ineffective because God is all powerful and everything, but when we don’t surrender, we’re essentially telling God, “Here are all my problems. Now I’m going to go take care of them myself while You watch. Thanks for listening.”
Isn’t that just crazy?
So, I can’t just pray. I have to actually surrender everything to God, trust that He will give me an answer, and trust that whatever that answer is, it’s far better than all my plans.
But, if you’re anything like me, your next question is, “But how do I hear that answer?”
I must be in the Word and….
If I know God and know His Word, my ears are much more attuned to picking up whatever it is He’s saying to me. If I don’t know what to listen for, though, how can I ever hear God’s answer?
That’s why reading the Bible is so important. We might not have God speaking to us in burning bushes like Moses did, but we have something just as incredible: We have an entire book that reveals who God is and how He moves in people’s lives.
God has given us everything we need to know in the Bible and in the Holy Spirit who lives within us.
And… I must be surrounded by other believers.
The Bible also emphasizes the importance of community (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 is one example). When we’re in community with fellow believers, they can help guide us, help point us to scripture we might not have thought about, give us biblical-based wisdom, and encourage us. When we worry about God’s answer (or seeming lack thereof) they can be there to remind us that God has not forsaken us and that He has a wonderful plan for us.
So, with all that being said, I’m going to step back and not only pray but relinquish control. I’m going to trust that God is God, that He knows what He’s doing, that He loves me, and that everything will work out to His glory (which, ultimately, is all that matters).