So much of my decisions are often stagnated because I am waiting for perfect circumstances to align so I can move forward. I think part of it is being a recovering perfectionist. But I see it goes deeper. An agonizing decision process, where we need to make a choice. Whether to take a job, move to another city, marry this person, or choose that school, we seek the comfort of the right answer.
Not knowing is hard. In an age where “information is power”, to not know feels powerless. And we certainly don’t like to feel unable, so we want to know. Knowing puts us at ease, like we know what we are doing. As we pray, we look for very specific answers, so we will know exactly what to do when to do it, and how to do it. I’ve noticed that pattern in myself. I want the whole picture, the entire roadmap with signposts and all, to know the exact route from where I am standing to the desired outcome.
We want not only the confirmation of what steps to take but also a guarantee that we will get there successfully. The comfort we are after is the sense that we are in control. And so, we get frustrated with God when we pray, and things don’t become clearer. I wonder how often the clarity I am waiting for is really the ability to control the situation? And isn’t that me wanting to be in God’s seat? A job I am severely underqualified for.
The friction for most believers occurs because we are called to a life of faith. Not our natural bend. Paul wrote, “…the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God” (Galatians 2:20 ESV). So, the life I live here and now, in my flesh, subject to the allures of the flesh and the pain of the flesh, this life with its ups and downs, twists and turns, I now live by faith? Faith implying trusting Who I know with what I don’t know.
Often in my quest to know all the possible outcomes and details thereof, I ignore what is made known to me. The Bible is the primary place to know God and learn what He wants us to know. This, however, seems insufficient if not irrelevant when I am pressed for information. After all, it is of no use to me in terms of specific answers about who to marry, what job to accept, or how to get that outcome I want.
While it may not contain the details relevant to each personal situation, it contains the words God deemed relevant to record and make available. Interacting with it will usually do one of two things: either frustrate us or recalibrate our position. The purpose of the Bible is not to give us the answers we want; it’s to give us God.
So, it may not say what job to take, but it does say to work in all things as unto the Lord. It says to honour the Sabbath, thereby pointing to our need for rest and pause, and not making life all about the work of our hands. It does not say who to marry, but it does give instruction on how to foster a relationship. And the kind of person I should strive to be and the kind to look for.
I admit living by faith means taking risks in my decisions, where while I try to act on good faith and obedience, I know that the outcome and the actions of others may not follow suit. And yet I am told to not tire of doing good. I know that in this life I will be subject to unforeseen circumstances that will not fit neatly in a five-year plan. Illness, death, injustice, job loss, accidents, pain and conflict can and will affect our lives, and obedience and faith will not exempt us from these trials.
For me, I think a life lived by faith in the Son of God means learning to find comfort in the Son of God rather than in outcomes. Is stepping in faith and prayerfully making a choice with the information I do have from His Word and trusting God will meet me on the other side of that decision.
“Draw near to God and he will draw near to you…” (James 4:8a ESV). Complete control over my circumstances will not draw me to God but away. After all, if I am in the driver’s seat, is there space or need for God?