Aimee Joseph led a session during TGCW21 titled “What’s Next? Discerning God’s Will.” This is also the topic of her book, Demystifying Decision-Making: A Practical Guide (TGC/Crossway, 2022).
In a sense, she says, life is a huge series of compounding choices. At any given time, we are all in one of three places: on the verge of making a choice, in the midst of a choice, or having just made a choice. Right choices, from the simple and nearly meaningless to the complex and deeply significant, are all around us.
Aimee addresses decision-making from a biblical view using a five-part structure:
—The problem of decisions
—A paradigm for decisions
—The process preparation for decisions
—A posture for decisions
—Praise Him who made us in his image as decision makers
The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.
Aimee Joseph: Good afternoon ladies. My name is Aimee Joseph and I live with my husband and three children in San Diego, California. That’s right. Okay. San Diego. That’s right. It’s a pretty awful place to live. It’s a shame that we have to live there. We it’s a distinct honor and privilege to be with you guys. I know that every speaker has said this. But in light of the past year, it is humbling and privileged that we get to be in a room together, that we get to be face to face or mask to mask or on online together. By way of getting to know me, you need to know that I went to a tiny small Presbyterian College in the middle of nowhere, that had two stoplights a Presbyterian group home a Presbyterian home for the aging, basically a Presbyterian town and a bunch of cows. We did have one thing that we boasted in, though we had two waffle houses. Okay, one on either side of the highway, big deal. The party crowd went to one, and the studious crowd went to the other by God’s grace. I went from being part of the party crowd to part of the studious crowd, and would frequent the Waffle House to enjoy their lukewarm not so great coffee and study into the wee hours of the morning. One of the things on the Waffle House menu astounded me, not enough to make me actually fact check it. But the restaurant chain actually claims that there are 1,572,864 different ways for you to order your hashbrowns at the Waffle House. Yes, that’s right. And I looked it up. And supposedly if you do in oil, without oil, all these different ways, there are truly that many options. It’s a staggering number. My friends have choices regarding hash browns, right. And that’s not even talking about your main main menu choice and your beverage choice, right.
I share this in jest, obviously. But you and I both realize that there’s a hint of truth. Underneath this menu claim. We live in a land and a culture inundated with choices, some as silly as this, but others as serious as life and death. Not only is our land full of choices, but our lives are full of choices. In a sense, our lives are a huge series of compounding choices, right? It is safe to say that we’re always in one of three places in the midst of a choice, having just made a choice, or on the verge of making a choice. Right Choices are all around us. Some of these are tame and largely inert, like which parking space you’re going to choose or which restaurant you’re going to eat at tonight. But many of these decisions are deeply significant, and they have long lasting and even eternal impacts. Where you attend college, what what you’re going to major in, what your what career you’re going to pursue, what job you’re going to take, who to marry, if to marry, when to marry, to grow a family, how to grow a family, and the list goes on and on and on. And initially, that sounds like freedom.
And that sounds like joy. But if you’re in this room, you likely know that it’s awful. Also very crippling, it can be paralyzing the amount of choices that we have in our time and in our day and in our lives. We eventually all come to a place where we can agree with Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard who said, anxiety is the dizziness of freedom. Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom, right? We live in a land full of choices. And that sounds like freedom. But the underbelly of that is sometimes crippling, paralyzing anxiety, depression parallelisation. Right. In light of all that has been said and all that we’ve left unsaid about the dilemma of decisions, we could do well to stop and to consider the biblical view. What scriptures does insight offer us in regards to decision making. So in order to keep our time sort of structured, we’re going to follow just five pieces.
This is kind of where we’re headed, and then within these tons of information smushed in there. But the first one is we’re talking about the problem of decisions, the problem of decisions, then we’re going to talk about a paradigm for decision so a paradigm to help us make decisions. The third will be the process preparation for decisions. The fourth will be a posture for decisions, what posture of our lives do we take when we approach decision making, and the fifth, which is the most important is praise. I hope that all of these pieces would lead us To praise Him who made us in his image as decision makers, those who have choices. So that’s kind of where we’re heading. We just talked about the hashbrowns, right?
We know that there’s a thing called decision making fatigue, right? In different seasons, whether you’re in grief, or you’re a young parenting sage, or you’re just truly overwhelmed. We have friends that are missionaries came back from being in South America. And she said, I literally used to go to the grocery store, and I would end up crying in the cereal aisle, because I was so overwhelmed by adjusting back to the United States with so many choices, right? So there’s there’s decision making fatigue, which is real, that’s one of the problems of decisions, but another one is more theological in nature. Eventually, when we’re making decision, we’re gonna bump into a theological hurdle, a conundrum. And that conundrum is this, that God is sovereign. Right? He’s, he’s, he’s guiding all the decisions of from the infinite to the infinitesimal, he is sovereign, and yet, man is responsible man as a responsible moral agent. And those two, they seem to be contradictory. Right, J i Packer calls those two apparent truths that seem to be contradictory. He calls them an antimony, and antimony.
And he says this man is a responsible moral agent, though he is divinely controlled. Man is divinely controlled, though he is a responsible moral agent, when we come to a mystery like that, our limited minds cannot comprehend our unlimited God. And so what we tend to do is we want to truncate it, it’s a both and we want to make it an either or. Right, we want to say, okay, either I’m going to focus so much on on man’s responsibility. So to this person, I would say they truncate it, and they say, I’ve got a college student, I’ve got to work really hard to get get my cover letter, I got to do all the right internships, if I do all those things, get all those things lined up, then I can make the right decision for where I’m going to work. Man is responsible. Okay. On this side, you have people who say, I’ve had many of these conversations, you know, God’s in control, he’s going to get me a job. And I go, absolutely, you’re going to get a job.
But you have to write a cover letter. Right, like God’s not just going to give you a job, you have a part to play, God is sovereign, and man is responsible, both are true at the exact same time. And that’s that’s confounding, and it should be confounding. And we should stop when we find a mystery like that. And they’re all over Christianity and all over our scriptures. And we should kneel down and we should worship God, whose thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways are higher than our ways. It helps me to think about physicist and the nature of light when I think about an antimony in the scriptures.
So physicist Albert Einstein and crew, they were in this great search for what is the nature of light? What is it like? And so one crew of physicists would come up with an experiment, and they would find definitive proof that light was wave, right? And the whole thing was sway that way, and then someone else would come and they would make definitive, factual, evidential proof that light was, was particle. And so they would one of them must be wrong. Who’s wrong whose experiment was wrong? Neither was wrong. Light is both light wave and particle at the same time. And that is beautiful. And that’s mysterious thing.
When asked someone asked Charles Spurgeon, how do you reconcile God’s sovereignty with man’s responsibility? And he just chuckled. He’s a big fella. He chuckled. And he said, I don’t reconcile friends, their friends, they don’t have to be reconciled, right? They’re both true at the exact same time. And that should lead us to praise. In light of this in light of some of these problems, there are more problems to decision making, crippling fear, anxiety, the what ifs the regret that comes on the other side. In light of these problems, I would like to offer a flip, I would like to switch this from thinking about decision making as a problem to be solved. To a privileged to be stewarded a privilege to be stewarded.
Decisions are not a problem, they are a privilege, we are stamped in the image of a Triune God, we have been invited into the privilege of decisions. God did not create us as automatons or robots. He did not program us to always obey his will. He was after something better. He wanted the people who had worshipped him from the heart. Elizabeth Elliot, when thinking about that reality that God who is sovereign would give us agency would give us the ability to make decisions, said this next to the incarnation. I know of no more staggering and humbling truth. that a sovereign God has ordained my participation. What a privilege it is that we get to make decisions. So in light of that, I’d like to press this idea of decision making through the meta narrative of Scripture, the four chapter gospel, which I think probably many of you are aware of creation, fall, redemption and glory. Okay. So creation, we were created an image of God, He gave us real choice and real agency in the garden, he said, You have a choice to obey me, and have life or disobey me and have death, he gave us real choice.
And you know what happens next, we make a terrible choice, a disastrous choice, that ruins and shatters the shalom that God intended for his people. And it breaks the harmony between God and man, and man and man and man within himself, and man and creation, right? It’s a disastrous choice. And from that point on, we have an inherited nature, that we choose self, we choose autonomy, we choose those things rather than submission to our Creator. Right. That’s That’s what happened to decision making in the fall. And yet, and yet we have a God who lovingly provided for us and guided a sinful people who were his enemies, who continually chose against him. And then, in the fullness of time, his son chose to step into the story as the incarnate one. And he chose to make all of his decisions. In light of His Heavenly Father, he made every decision perfectly in his heart, secretly, he did all things well, right? In his public ministry, He made the right choices.
And yet, he came to the end of his life, and he received the punishment for our choices. And in that moment, and that great, that great switch that happened, Second Corinthians 521, the great exchange, he repaired the breach, and he opened a way for us to be decision makers, again, we now having restored relationship with God have the privilege of getting to make decisions that have real consequences in real time for real people for all of eternity. That is a privilege. It feels like a weight, but it’s a privilege, a weighty privilege that we get, and one day in glory, when we are restored. And in resurrection bodies, we will we will only make decisions that honor Him will be separated from the presence of sin for the rest of our lives. That is where we’re going as decision makers. That’s a beautiful story. It’s not a problem. It’s a privilege.
Okay, so having talked about this problem, slash privilege, I want to get us into a paradigm for decisions. If we had hours, and I wish we had hours, we could look at the Greek and Hebrew words for will and we could talk about what connotation and what context what does that word mean, biblically, when we talk about God’s will, because you’re in this room? Because you’re asking the question, what is God’s will for? Fill in the blank, right? We could talk about that. I wish we had time we don’t. So the best paradigm that I could give you the amount of time that we have is this. We have to understand the distinction between God’s revealed Will and his hidden will, His revealed Will and his hidden will. God’s revealed will, is this. It’s his word. It’s the entire canon of Scripture given to us, because he is a speaking revealing God. God’s word reveals all that we need to know about God’s will. As Peter so powerfully reminded the early church, God’s precious and very great promises provide all that we need for life and for godliness. Paul reminded Timothy, that all scripture is God breathed and profitable, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, that the man of God might be complete and equipped for every good work, read decision.
Okay. Similarly, the Hebrew the writer of Hebrews wrote about the Word of God being living inactive sharper than a double edged sword. So saintly politics tells it that’s a lot that the Thessalonian church, he tells them directly, and I love this. You know, sit down, write it down, get ready. This is the will of God for you, Thessalonian church, what is it, your sanctification?
This is God’s will for your life, that you would be sanctified, that you would obey Him and walk in faith to be made from degree of glory to degree of glory, more and more into His image. That is God’s will for you. And I know that’s an underwhelming answer. You want a Barnes and Noble tell me what God wants for my life. This is better than a Barnes and Noble answer. He wants you to be made into His image. He’s going to make you meet for heaven. That is His will for you. Now, the Scriptures tell us a lot in Israel and the revealed word, all that we need to know for life and godliness, but it doesn’t make every decision for us. It leaves us with ample freedom in this life. Which brings us to his hidden well.
So what is his hidden Well, well, his hidden well is His eternal decrees his practice It’s right. God is steering the course of human history, right? From the stars to the little decisions that we make. He is sovereign over all of it. And yet, we’re not going to know His sovereign will, until it happens. We don’t know we didn’t know before the election, who is going to be who God will to be president. God did. We didn’t until we looked in the rearview mirror. And we can say this is who God willed to be president. Right? We know in hindsight, God is God’s hidden will. We cannot know it beforehand.
It doesn’t matter how much research you do, you are not going to figure out God’s hidden will for your life, because it is hidden until it is revealed, which is defeating in a lot of ways, isn’t it? You’re like, that is not what I want to hear. But this is what Moses told the people of God, Deuteronomy 2929, he said, for the secret things belong to the Lord, the secret things belong to the Lord. But the revealed beings belong to us and to our children that we met, obey them and walk in them forever. He said, there are secret things, and it is good to ponder, and to wonder, and to ask hard questions. So don’t hear me say check your brain at the door, you can search. But Moses says where you need to land is right back on what we know.
And this is what we know. We know far more than what we don’t know. Right? You don’t know who you’re going to marry. But you know, what your to look like, if you are to get married, you know what that marriage is supposed to look like? Because it’s here. You don’t know if your business is going to be profitable. But you know, how you are to run your business? How do you are to seek to enhance the city that you live in and the lives of your of your client and your employees? Right? You don’t know what’s coming in the future. But you know, the manner in which God would have you live it. That is free. That is beautiful. That reality. Jerry Switzer says it this way, in his book, The will of God is a way of life.
He says if we seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness, that’s Matthew 633. As we, if we seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness, which is the will of God for our lives, then whatever choices we make concerning the future, become the will of God for our lives. There are many pathways we could follow, many options we could pursue, as long as we are seeking God, all of them could become God’s will for our lives. Although only one, the path we choose actually becomes his will. Right? There are a lot of options. In the scriptures, there’s so much liberty in the scriptures. So you might be thinking, me, that’s awesome. And Great, thank you for that little theology lesson. But I’m trying to make a real decision. And that’s not helpful at all.
So if you’re thinking that we are going to move towards some more practical tools, but you do have to understand that the end game of all of this is your sanctification, and your being made like Christ for His glory. That’s the end game of all creation, to enjoy God and to know Him to glorify Him forever. So there are practical pieces. But this is the big deal of the story. This is the big deal of the story. Having laid that the theological foundation will move to a little bit more practical things. So I want to talk about some preparation. Any of you who have ever painted a room, specifically a small complex room with lots of trim, know that preparation for painting is far more work than actually painting. Right? You got to take everything off the walls, you got to clean the walls, you got to move the furniture, lay down the tarps, do the paint tape, and then get the right paint, get it all prepped. The prep work for decision making is often the place where the hard work happens.
That’s the place where the hard work happens. Before we get into those those things, I need you to have a few expectations, some healthy expectations on making decisions. And the first regards clarity. First regards clarity. There’s a man named John Cavanaugh, who was a seeker and a searcher, brilliant businessman. And he went over to India as a lot of people did, and wanted to find answers for his life. And Mother Teresa and her very terse way went up to him. He said, What do you want from me? And he said, You always seem to have the clarity that you longed for. I would like clarity. And she said she laughed at him. And then she said, I have never had clarity. I have never had clarity.
I have always had trust. I have always had trust. So I won’t pray for clarity. I will pray for trust. I’m not saying that wanting clarity is bad because it is ultimately the goal of decision making is to get to a place where there’s clarity and you make a decision. I’m just saying that clarity is not the end all be all. God we often demand of God clarity, and we get frustrated and disillusioned with him when he’s not giving it on our timetable. But God is not in it always for clarity. He would rather cultivate a faith in us and a trust in us, as we know from the writer of Hebrews. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for the conviction of things unseen. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Right? So yes, ask God for clarity. But more than you need clarity, you need trust and the trustworthy one, as you make decisions, okay? Remember that it takes it takes faith to leave the states to minister to to another, another people group, it takes faith to stay in the states and minister to your neighbors.
It takes faith to walk as a single man or woman, it takes faith to enter the covenant of marriage. It takes faith and trust, whatever decision you make should be made in a spirit of faith and trust. For it to please God, he’s more concerned with that than he is with your clarity. Another thing we need to think about when it comes to expectations for decision making is complexity. Right? Sometimes decisions are short and sweet and simple. There is no need to agonize over which sides you want to select go along with your meal at a restaurant, though some of us do struggle about wanting to add the guacamole or not at the guacamole.
Some choices revolve around neutral and amoral personal preferences, those can be made quickly, that’s okay, there’s no need to be paralyzed by those, there’s not weighty consequences usually attached to those. However, a lot of decisions in life involve significant weighty things. And they become complex, because we have different moral values and they start to collide. Right? And so it’s gonna require a nuanced wisdom that only comes from a daily walk with God. Again, not the Barnes and Noble answer you were hoping for the five simple steps to make a godly decision. But this is God’s way. Right? A lot of the decisions we make in this life are complex, and they’re not between good and bad. They’re that trying to discern that incredibly thin line between good, better best. And the only way that we’re going to be so attuned to God’s Word and God’s Spirit to be able to discern how to use my time, which command of the Lord Am I to obey right now in this very moment, right?
That to us, the days that God’s given me, is for us to be Romans 12, one and two, living sacrifices, not conformed to the pattern of this world, but transformed by the renewing of our minds daily, right? We’re gonna need that if we’re going to make complex decisions. That’s why it’s hard to talk and write about decision making. Because they’re nuanced. They’re situational. They’re individual. They depend on your circumstances, someone else’s principles don’t apply to your life, right? It’s really hard to talk about these things, because it is an intimate process. And I think God wants it that way. He wants our intimacy with Him. So we need to remember that they are complex, that we need faith more than we need clarity. But we also need to be reminded and comforted of this fact. We have a pioneer. So we just went to the Grand Canyon as a family. And a typical our family fashion we shoe we showed up, we had done no research, we had no things we didn’t have the right water bottles and stick things we just we have done a little shuttle bus.
And we’re like, Hey, where are y’all going, and they’re like, we’re going to the orange trail, we’re gonna go and we’re like, we’re gonna go there, too. And so we had our little friends that we trusted, and we did what they did, because they went ahead of us. It is good to have someone go ahead of you. And sometimes in decision making you have that maybe you have a friend who’s gone ahead of you in a similar situation. But you rarely, never get someone who is exactly gone through exactly what you’re going through with the same personality priorities, present circumstances, all of those things. But we do have one in Christ. We have a pioneer in our Christ. He knows the end from the end from the beginning. Isaiah 4610 says, Christ stands outside of time. sovereignly steering not only human history, but our life.
And he anchors us in the choppy waters of complex decision makings. Making complex decisions. He knows all of our days, which he has already carefully written. We have a pioneer, as Hebrews 12 Two says we have an author and a perfecter of our faith. He is prior he is before and he is Pioneer. He has gone before all of our decisions he already knows. And that should bring us great comfort, great comfort in all of the unknowns. We have a known God who walks beside us, that has the privilege of walking with Christ. Okay, so now we can actually talk about decision making. Now we’ve done all of that, by prep. Decision making is ultimately a process of gathering puzzle pieces. So I wish I could say you just pick out a little box to order on Amazon and arrives at your door and all the pieces are in the box. But that is not how God has ordained our lives to look. He gets sent us on this wild scavenger hunt of Finding pieces of information.
And once we find a lot of the pieces, it’s pretty easy to put the puzzle together. You’ve all had those moments where you go, you know, it was like it was like the nose on my face. It was right in front of me all the time. I just didn’t see it didn’t make sense. We have a friend, who when she was in second grade, I believe, asked for a filing cabinet for Christmas, a filing cabinet. And we put her on a campus ministry on on campus doing very relational work. And she was exhausted, she was tired all the time. And my genius husband and I finally realized, well, maybe this isn’t a good fit for her. You know, she did want to buy a filing cabinet when she was in second grade. And it was one of those moments where like gather the piece. Of course she doesn’t this isn’t a good fit for her. She needs to be in an administrative role.
She’s thriving, she’s running like half of nine marks right now I think we just didn’t we didn’t have the pieces. Once we had the pieces. It just clicked it made sense. But it took all of those years to gather that information to say this is exactly what God would have for this person. It makes sense. So gathering pieces. When I graduated college, I taught high school for a year. I was naive, fresh out of college and had no teaching experience at all. So it was a really fun year. Really fun year. my saving grace that year was that there was an older adjunct professor at this school, who was brilliant. He had taught at very prestigious academic environments, teaching medical students anatomy and physiology. And he was teaching at this tiny little Christian school teaching anatomy to like 10 high school seniors. And he every every week, he would stop me in the coffee room because the coffee machine was my nemesis making tests and handouts. And he would just he said to me, how you doing? And I’d be like terrible. I’m a terrible teacher. This is a terrible thing. And he’d say, What have you What have you learned this week about yourself? And I say nothing. I learned that I’m not a good teacher.
And he would say I learned something about you this week. And I’d be like you did? And he’d say, Yeah, you know what I saw on you. I saw that you hate making these copies, that you hate grading that you do not like giving tests, but you come alive at Chapel, you come alive when you do your devotions with your students. You do Bible studies before school, and you do Bible studies after school. And then you coach because you want to spend time with the students because you want to talk about Jesus. He’s like, you’re a teacher, you’re just teaching the wrong thing. Right? And so it took someone helping me gather pieces. And once I gathered it every week, he would stop me and he would say, what did you learn this week? What piece did you gather this week? And if you have a friend or you just ask yourself that question every couple of months, every couple of weeks, the pieces of your decision will start I don’t know your timetable for your decision.
Maybe it has a built in timetable. Maybe you need to go a little faster than that. But gather the pieces. God has given you pieces. And so you have to have eyes that are open to see. What is God teaching you about yourself, your gifts, your circumstances, your family, your passions, the world around you, the needs around you. Those things are going to inform your decision. Right? So the pivotal pieces that we need to gather, and I wish I could say just happened quickly, but it doesn’t Zoella Neale Hurston, who wrote Their Eyes Were Watching God, she has a great quote she said, there are years for asking questions, and there are years for answering them. And I hate it because I want them to be answered overnight, but it often takes a long time. So passions we need to we need to learn and gather pieces about our passions. God has wired us and stamped us uniquely as plentiful personality tests and all those different instruments will tell you we have different personalities, passions, talent, pools, tendencies. And while personality tests. Tests caveat can be dangerous and can lead to self obsession. They are helpful in giving us points and for for self discovery and conversation. John Calvin just you know, this is not a hedonistic worldly thing, that we can explore our passions, John Calvin and his Institute’s that the Christian religion talks about double knowledge. He said, nearly all wisdom we possess, that is to say all true and sound wisdom consists of two parts. Knowing God, the knowledge of God and the knowledge of self, the knowledge of God and the knowledge of self. So gather the pieces, what are your passions? What makes your heart come alive? What breaks your heart? What makes you really feel exhausted? What makes you feel fuel? What would you do? If no one else was around telling you to do it? Gather things about your your passions, also gather information about your priorities, your priorities. So passions alone cannot dictate our decisions. Our culture tells us they can and it doesn’t work. Well. The evidence shows that that does not work well. In addition to assessing our passions, we have to evaluate our priorities, which often change depending on our age, our stage or Season of Life, unlike the world tells us we can’t have everything and do everything. We have limited time and limited resources. And rather than that being a negative thing, that can actually be a positive thing that forces us to say, what are my priorities? What are the things that are most important to me in this season of life? Right, and you have to make your decisions waited in light of your priorities, right? That’s very significant.
And then you have to gather pieces about your present circumstances. What are the circumstances of life that God has you in? You might have passions to do something, and it might be a priority in your life, but your present circumstances might make that not a possible thing. And God is sovereignly ordained that to write I love David in Psalm 16. He said, The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup, you hold my lat The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places. Indeed, I have a delightful inheritance. I have set the Lord always before me, because he has of my right hand I will never be shaken. Do you hear David they’re talking about he’s assigned my portion my cut my circumstances in this life. In his memoir, Stuart Briscoe, who’s a British pastor, he remembered helpful advice that his mentor gave him. He was at a critical juncture in his life, he was trying to decide between continuing to do marketplace ministry that God was really using to win souls at a bank or moving to like a lay person ministry where they were going to train and equip lay leaders. And his mentor said this, and I loved it because it’s funny, but practical. He said, Stuart, push plenty of doors. Just don’t knock any over. And I love that, because it’s playful. It’s Hey, you can explore options. In fact, your call to explore options, God will open and shut doors, but just don’t go knocking down doors. That’s when we get into trouble. When we demand and force our will. When we are not teachable to the Spirit’s leading and his providential guiding of our lives. And we try to force away when there isn’t a way. Right. I love that. I wish I could say this was an easy puzzle. It’s not. It takes time and prayer and outside eyes. But in the midst of it, I want you to remember this. God is far more concerned with the process of how you arrive at your decision than sometimes even the decision you make itself. We live in a product culture, we want it and we want it prime delivery now two hours later, right? We love products we love and products. We love that moment when it all comes together. God is a slow, organic, gracious and patient God. Think about his unfolding of redemption, how slowly he unfolded and revealed his character. That is the way he does things in life in gardening and agriculture. That is the way he does things spiritually. It is a slow process. But he enjoys the process. And that should astound us, I have three boys. And I think all boys pass through a rock face, where they’re just obsessed with rocks. And so we have all the books about rocks and all the things. And I could have gone to the store and bought a bunch of polished rocks, probably would have been a little expensive at the museum store or something. But instead, because I wanted to be with my boys, and I knew that this was a passion of theirs. And my point as a parent is to enjoy my children and to train my children. I wanted to make an object lesson of it. So I said we’re gonna buy a rock tumbler, which do not buy a rock tumbler. They’re loud and expensive. And it’s not a quick machine. It’s like you put different grits in and takes weeks. Ah, it’s a terrible situation. So that’s not the point of illustration, the point of illustration is this. We made those racks together, we polish those boys and make them we polish them together. And it was a process and we did it together and we laughed and we cried and we learned together and they treasure those rocks and I treasure those rocks. Because we did it together. It was a process. That is what God is after in our decision making.
Absolutely he cares about the product. Okay, he does care about where you work, but he cares far more about your posture, your heart, your desires and and your priorities and going to work and the process by which you get there than he does about which office building you end up going to go right or do you go left? Right He cares more about your your carpool time in the car, what you’re doing in the secret place than he cares about which parking place you get or which office job you go for whether you’re home or not home. He he deeply cares about the process. And that should astound us and if it doesn’t, we’ve just heard it too much and we’ve we’ve not let it sunk in But the God of the universe delight to be with bows down in stoops down in enters into our wrestling’s and cares about our preferences and wants to be with us as we pray and wrestle and, and discern and fast. He’s after the process, not just the product. And so this is not something to be endured, it is something to be enjoyed with the Lord. Okay, that being said, we’re moving to the fourth P, a posture. So what’s our posture for making decisions, and I like the word posture, because it implies habit, it implies I have very bad posture. So my mom always said, Sit straight in the table. And our pastor implies habit, that implies what is our resting state, and our resting state as decision makers should be this, we should be open minded, we should be open IRID we should be open handed. And we should be open eyed. Okay, so I’m gonna unpack those just a little bit open minded. God’s plan for your life is likely not gonna fit in your 510 or 15 year plan. I love these conferences, because I love to sit down with older saints who have walked longer down the road ahead and ask them questions. And I guarantee you if you did that today, every one of them would say, God’s story did not turn out the way I wanted it to. But I wouldn’t change it. Be open minded to what God is doing his way is safer than the known way. It is safer than the non weigh the open eared. And I don’t mean, just when you want to know the answer to your question. We don’t just start the scriptures as a to do book or as Oh, I gotta find wisdom on and it’s good to do a topical search and your concordance about what you’re what you’re wrestling with. But we need to have habits and ruts of righteousness with the Word of God. We need to know John 10, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. Is that the posture of our lives? Are we in touch with the shepherd of our souls? Do we have a posture like this of the spirit of Isaiah, who said in Isaiah 50, verses four through five, Morning by morning, he wakens my ear to hear as those who are taught, the Lord opened my ear, and I was not rebellious. I turned not backward. Isaiah didn’t just listen to the Lord when he had a burden and a prophecy. He listened to the Lord, Morning by morning and moment by moment. If we live like that, we’re not going to miss his will for our lives, which is what so many women are afraid of, I’m afraid I missed his will for my life. I’m afraid I’m on plan B or track C and I missed the good track and I’m stuck here. When you are walking with God and in his word, and not living in unconfessed sin and living independence and community. You’re not going to miss his will for you. Because you know your Shepherd and you’re going to follow him. He promises My sheep will hear My voice and they will follow me. That’s comforting. In a world full of decisions. Elisabeth Elliot counseled women to seek guidance and cultivate habits of faithful listening to the Lord. through listening to the Scripture. She often said things like this guidance for decision that doesn’t need to be finalized until next Wednesday.
Often requires some small move or obedience or commitment today. And then she says this, I rest in His love. So I walk in obedience, I rest in His love confident that when the time is right, the guidance will be clearer. And the time is right. The guidance will be clearer. If you are walking God faithfully in this moment. And then the next moment and then the next moment. That fateful minute, turns into a fateful day, turns into a faithful week turns into a faithful month, your life and then you’re with God and glory, right? That’s how we do this. We repent and we obey, and we repent and we obey. And we stay close to the shepherd. And we make decisions and we make mistakes, and we repent, and we return and we course correct. That is what the Christian life looks like. That’s what it looked like for all the saints who have gone before us. And that’s what it’s gonna look like for all the generations that come after us. And I want you to feel today, that is a good and right thing. It is a privilege, not something to paralyze us. God does not want us to live in confusion. He is not a God of confusion, Paul says to the Corinthians, but I got a piece. Right. That is God’s heart for us. Okay, so we’re open minded. We’re open eared, we’re open handed. And you know this, this is when it comes to decisions. We always kind of have to think we have two tendencies. One is to just grab. This is my will. This is what I want. This is my preference. This is what I’m going to make away when a knock down this wall knocked down this door, and we’re holding it like this, and the Holy Spirit and the Word of God and the people of God are opening our hands. because this is the posture we want to keep, when we’re making a decision, we have a preference, we have a desire, as we’re studying in the book of James, if God wills it, right, open handed, we have a preference, we have a choice. But we’re also not going like this, throwing it away, right? Right like this, I have a choice, I have a preference, and I’m going to hold it loosely. That’s a hard posture to maintain. It’s easier to grab, or to let go completely than to walk with God like this with an open handed posture. But Elizabeth Elliot says, if our hands are full of her own plans, there isn’t any room to receive his right, let’s keep our hands open, open handed, and then open eyes. And this one’s really important to me, I think. So many of us get to this process of decision making. And we get to the end, and we’re just glad it’s over. We did it. Okay, fine, I’m resigned, I made the choice done. And we lose in the process somewhere, maybe in the long tedious process of gathering the pieces, we lose a sense of expectancy. And wonder. And so I’d like to kind of draw a distinction between expectations, and expectancy. Okay, so God rarely does things according to our expectations. When we come to God with expectations, and he doesn’t do what we want him to do on his timetable, or we made our choice. And it didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to. We tend to get disillusioned and frustrated or blame God like Mary said. But if we come to God with expectancy, that’s eyes wide open. That is God, you are going to do something with this choice. You have good works for me on the other side of this, you have people in this company that I chose to work at, or you have neighbors in this house that we chose to buy, or you have, fill in the blanks with your decision, you’re going to do something here. And I’m expect, I don’t know exactly what it is. But I have my eyes open to see what the Spirit might be doing. And I want to live with a sense of expectancy. I’m reading the book of Acts right now with a group of women. And the thing that blows me away is their sense of awe and wonder. Their posture of Okay, Lord, what’s next? They’re expected God’s about to do some crazy stuff. theatres in jail, well, we’re gonna pray expectantly, he’s probably going to pop at any minute now. Then they didn’t believe Rhoda when she told him which I’ve Perrotta. But we have to have a sense of expectancy when we make decisions. Let’s not get to the process and be like, here it is, Lord. Wonder, ah, we get to take part in this. We have agency in the kingdom of God. That’s a wonder. All of this, I hope leads us to pray. I know you didn’t get your practical. You left here with your decision made. And I’m glad that you didn’t, because I don’t think that’s how God would will it. But I hope that this leads you to praise. I hope this leads you to praise the God who said, I don’t have robots. I want worshipers. I want those who love me and are conformed to my image. And a God who said you are not a pawn. You’re my child. And I’m going to give you real circumstances to train you in righteousness. So you more and more have the mind of Christ.
I pray that that leads you to praise so that when you make good decisions, you remember what Luke said, what Jesus said in Luke to His disciples who are getting pretty puffed up like yeah, we’ve been pretty obedient to you, Lord. And he said, When you have done all that is commanded of you say we are unworthy servants. We’ve only done when it was our duty, there is no place for pray in these decisions. It is all gift God has given us gift. And when we make a mistake, when we make an unwise choice, Let us repent and run to the cross, cling to his forgiveness and praise. Either way, it ends in praise. Why one day, in the restored new heavens and the new earth, we will hear our father say, Well done, good and faithful servant. We will make wise decisions today. If we live in that, in light of that day, I want my little small and my huge, significant decisions. I want your little small and huge, significant decisions to be made in light of that day when we get that crown. Right? That is a joy. And that is a privilege. There’s so many other things I wanted to say to you guys. But luckily I was able to write a book with TGC and crossway about decision making and so tons more paradigms and tools. It’s called demystifying decision making and it’s coming out in January. And so be on the lookout for it. It’s got Yeah, practical tools, lots of cool stories of ways God got to different people scriptures, really excited about it because this is our lives. We live in a sea of choices. So I would like to close this out by praying. I wish I could sing y’all in heaven. I’m going to sing in a minute some beautiful But right now I’m tone deaf. So I’m going to pray over you the hymn all the way my savior leads me. And then we’re just going to be done so pray with me. All the way my savior leads me. What have I to ask? Beside? Can I doubt his Facebook faithful mercy, who through life has been my guide? Heavenly Peace divineness comfort, air by faith in Him to dwell for I know what air before me, Jesus do us all things well, all the way my savior leads me. He cheers each winding path I tread. He gives me strength for every trial, and he feeds me with the living bread. So my weary steps may falter. And my soul a thirst may be gushing from a rock before me. Through a spirit of joy I see. All the way my savior leads me. Oh, the fullness of His love. Perfect rest to me as promised, In my Father’s house above, when my spirit clothes immortal wings, it’s flight through realms of day. This my song through endless ages. Jesus led me all the way. Jesus thank you, thank you that we are divine creations that we are stamped in the image of a God who would have us the worshipers. Thank you that it’s all yours. Thank you that whatever you call us to you will equip us for thank you that when the time is right, we will have your guidance. Thank you that you are worth it, that you are worthy that You are the good shepherd. I pray that these women would dig into your scriptures and would know the God who leads and guides His people. I pray these things to your glory and in your name, amen.