“But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” (James 1:25, NIV)
Knowing God does not mean we know everything but having God’s word provides us with everything we need to know. But, what about answers to life’s complex questions; “life-changing” decisions that have us jumping between two or three alternatives? Decision-making can be tough, especially when different options seem to “weigh-in” the same. Unless they are black or white, the choices we have to make can leave us pondering. Should our final decision move the needle one decimeter from the truth of God’s word, the outcome could be either a “good move” or an “oops.” Even with all best intentions, when we put our rationale before hearing from God, we pay the consequences. That given, how do we know whether to take a leap of faith or stay?
Abraham took a leap of faith that was obviously a “good move.” When God called Abraham out, He told Abraham to leave his family, home, and country for the new land He was going to show him. Abraham, having no idea what was in the forecast, obeyed and was blessed through many spiritual descendants; as many as the stars in the sky and the grains of sand on the seashore. But how did Abraham know that it was God talking to him and not Abraham talking to himself? In Hebrews, we read that “By faith Abraham heard God’s call to travel to a place he would one day receive as an inheritance; and he obeyed, not knowing where God’s call would take him.” (11:8, NIV) On a personal level, there were times when I took a leap of faith without waiting to hear from God. “Oops.” Yet, the times I remained still till I heard from God, was when I received clear direction. Like Abraham, God called me out when He told me to pack up and leave my home and country in New York for the new land He was going to show me. Pittsburgh. “Good move.”
What about work? Through scripture, we know that employment is a gift from God. But, what happens when the profession becomes a dreaded grind? Often times, when the job is no longer a fit, we want to quit. We start an aggressive job search and bingo! We are offered a new opportunity with lots of shiny perks. Do we take the leap or stay where we are? The Bible doesn’t really tell us whether to take Job #1 or Job #2 however, God does give guidance. First, rather than “throwing in the towel,” we may need to contemplate why God has us where we are. Is He using our current work situation to grow us? Is He redirecting our steps toward another opportunity? God does not leave us in doubt since it’s His will that prevails. He will make it clear to us and as we wait, we can continue to serve Him. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:23-24, NIV) And, if the job offer comes with shiny perks but robs us of family time, what then? We might want to run this one by God because God is about relationships, especially the family. “Your spouse will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Yes, this will be the blessing for the one who fears the Lord.” (Psalm 128:3-4, NIV, Paraphrased) Although an increase in salary with shiny perks may be alluring, putting the family first is where we reap eternal fruit. Work is our mission field for His glory “…equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever.” (Hebrews 13:21)
Concerning marriage. If the marriage is going through a rough patch (as in the routine challenges all marriages experience), do we walk out? This is probably the one question that doesn’t need to be outsourced as most know, God created the institution of marriage not to be broken but for permanence. “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So, they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6, NIV) From one of his sermons, Pastor John Piper summarized the meaning of God’s holy institution, “Staying married is not about staying in love. It is about keeping covenant.” God created the permanence of marriage for good.
As for church, do we stop attending when it is no longer aligned with our personal values, standards, and schedules? Do we jump ship? Or better yet, church hop? For seventeen years, I attended the same church in New York. Many times, I wanted to bolt. It was a family-based congregation, with a greater number of children than older singles. Since church is not a dating site but a place to give thanks and worship, I couldn’t justify a potential exit. Although, there were other reasons to leave, there was one verse that kept me within the walls of my home church. God commands us to “equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:12-13) If every congregant found one reason to leave the church, there would not be one body to build the body of Christ.
The Bible is very clear about where God wants us. And, if there is ever any lurking doubt, our decision-making can be easily determined based on two convictions; one, what pleases God and two, what brings us closer to Him.
So, while we may consider changing jobs, walking out on the marriage or wanting to church hop, perhaps we need to stay where we are and trust that God has us where He needs us to be at the moment. More times than not, it takes more faith to stay than to take that leap of faith. When it comes to making a decision, God makes it clear.