Eight months ago, I experienced decision fatigue unlike any other time of my life. In a season filled with highs and joyful moments, there were also days when I felt paralyzed. Fear of making the wrong choice darkened my thoughts like a constant bully, and I didn’t know which way to turn.
Those high moments? Topping the list was the fact that a publisher wanted to sign with me. Years of praying and working hard were finally producing a harvest and I could see God’s hand moving in multiple areas of our family’s life.
But then, within a week, another opportunity knocked. An opportunity requiring a completely different direction and path. Instead of looking ahead the doors standing open, I looked back and asked “what if.” A “yes” to one open door meant saying “no” to another, and I panicked.
I wanted clarity and a crystal clear writing on the wall, telling me what to do. But it didn’t come. The lack of an answer when I prayed made me unsure of my footing, like I couldn’t move forward.
We make thousands of choices each day, but not all of them are life altering. If you’re anything like me, when those big ones come you can go to God and expect an answer right then, even when you’ve done little to even connect with him.
Scripture is filled with men and women who had to make choices with the potential to result in life or death, but one of the stories I love the most is of Nehemiah. When faced with devastating news about the Jews who survived exile and the state of their nation, he has to decide what to do.
He doesn’t rush to God demanding an immediate answer, a sign or miracle. Instead he fasts. He prays. He mourns for Jerusalem, which is in ruins. It isn’t until he has done each of these things for several days that he approaches the king, who could’ve taken his life. As cupbearer, Nehemiah’s job is to make sure the king’s wine isn’t poisoned, but his rights are few.
Nehemiah understood something we often forget in our faith walk:
Connection to God will always precede the direction of God.
“Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.” Nehemiah 1:11 NIV
To enjoy the limitless benefits that come from this relationship, we must first take time fostering it. Wisdom, joy, love, and a sound mind are all at our fingertips. If we take the time. If we seek him before simply seeking his plans.
When we do, we find this:
God will open the doors he wants us to walk through.
He’ll also close the ones he doesn’t want us to go through. Both are gifts meant to guide us. But often, we try to beat down doors he never intended us to walk through in the first place. We fail to see the open pasture right in front us, beckoning us to enjoy its fruit.
In Nehemiah’s case, God opened the door. He found favor when he approached the king, who allowed him to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall.
We often complicate what God has already instructed us to do.
In my case, he’d given me an open door. Yes, another opportunity knocked, but upon further examination, there were stipulations and lack of clear communication that made the better path obvious.
In other instances where right road is still unclear, God’s will is for us always is obedience, loving others, and honoring him with the way we live our lives. Sometimes there will be more than one choice we can make, while still doing each of these things. Instead of stressing about it, he wants us to take the first step. If we don’t feel peace about it, we may need to reassess, seek wise counsel, and spend more time in prayer.
The right decision does not mean there are no bumps in the road.
Often I get sidetracked because I think the right choice is going to mean a trouble-free, smooth road ahead. But that’s almost never the case. Sure, there will be victories and affirmation, but there will also be distractions.
In Nehemiah’s case, he had an entire army of men who tried to distract him and his team from rebuilding the wall in Jerusalem. Instead of being thrown off course, his resolve was strengthened. He recruited others to help him finish the task and keep watch.
Friend, I don’t know what decisions you’re facing today, but I do know they’re many. This is the life we live. Whether they’re big or small, fear-inducing or not, know God is there with you, and he gives wisdom to whoever will ask.
When I finally made my decision about the writing opportunity, I knew it was the right path for that season of my life. And even when road bumps came, I was filled with peace.
This is the gift connection with God brings. It’s the gift he wants to give to each of us, each and every day.
Congratulations, Jeanne! You are the winner of one copy of More of God: A Distracted Woman’s Guide to More Meaningful Quiet Times. I will be in touch with you. Thanks for reading and sharing!