I have a friend who is struggling with some decisions. Her motivation is very similar to mine (see blogpost ‘What’s my motivation?’). She loves the Lord deeply and longs to serve him faithfully. Pressing in prayerfully, seeking godly counsel, asking for anointing and prayer from church elders – she’s doing all the right things. Yet she remains torn and undecided.
This is a very familiar place, is it not? We have all been there. Some are there right now. At a crossroads, thinking, whatever I decide here and now will have repercussions that will affect me, my future, and the future of others.
I have shared my thoughts with my friend, because one aspect of her decision cluster involves me. My bottom line was that I could make a case for going either way, as I am able to see the wisdom and benefit from either choice (to do it or not to do it, that is the question).
I have prayed with and for my friend – being honest with God about my own feelings and inclinations. Sometimes I sigh and pray Romans 8:26. And sometimes I “pray the prayer that never fails” as Father Tim says (in the fictional Mitford series by Jan Karon). And that prayer is: Thy will be done, Lord!
I pray it. I mean it. But, being the introvert that I am, I don’t leave it there. I keep rolling the thoughts around, then go veering off on tangents. If this, then… If that, then… Sigh.
The truth is, you and I, every member of the human family – are in the same place. There are decisions we need to make. Some are small and not that important. Others are huge and could be life changing. It’s hard to choose especially if there are two good options – because only ONE will be God’s best.
I was reading about the Israelites entering the Promised Land under Joshua’s leadership. God instructed the priests to line up at the shore of the Jordan River and step into the water – and then he would part the water. Remember, only Joshua and Caleb had seen the Lord part the Red Sea when they left Egypt; everyone else had not yet been born.
Taking that step of faith can be frightening. The thing to focus on is the goodness and faithfulness of God. He is patient. He is compassionate. He knows our hearts. Even if we make a wrong choice, God will (a) gently course-correct us via the Holy Spirit and (b) bring something good even out of our messes because God does not waste anything (Romans 8:28)
John Ortberg’s book “The Me I Want to Be” (Zondervan, 2010), offers some helpful guidelines in thinking through the decisions we face, as we strive to live purposeful lives that are pleasing to God.
The Me I Don’t Want to Be
There’s a lot of debris in the rain gutter of ‘self’ that we must mindfully clear out. Things from our childhood, old habits, wrong thinking. “We do not just drift into becoming the best version of ourselves” (p. 23).
The Me I Pretend to Be
Perhaps your upbringing was such that you were ‘expected’ to behave a certain way at certain times. What you did was in response to what someone else expected of you.
Habits were formed and you kind of ‘put on’ a version of you when you were with others. Yet we long to be authentic, to be ourselves, don’t we?
The good news is we “never have to pretend with God, and genuine brokenness pleases God more than pretend spirituality. If I am ever going to become the me I want to be, I have to start by being honest about the me I am.” (p. 25)
The Me I Think I Should Be
Again, we are reared by human parents who had certain expectations of us. Then there was school, friends, jobs, church. Competition is the norm in our society. But “comparison kills spiritual growth” (p. 25).
Usually the ‘me’ we think we should be is “at odds with the me that God made us to be. Sometimes letting go of that self may be a relief. Sometimes I twill feel like a death.” (p. 25). Dying to self is a big part of the process.
The Me I’m Afraid God Wants
This will be something different for each of us – but it can be a stumbling block to living in the freedom Jesus died to give us. Maybe your parents wanted you to be a doctor or lawyer and you wanted to be an artist. God doesn’t operate that way. If you trust him, he will lead you into his best for you, and enable you to do whatever he asks. God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called (Joyce Meyers).
The Me That Fails to Be
There is a medical term that John Ortberg uses in his book: FTT. Failure to thrive. It’s used by doctors and relates to a medical condition.
Most of us know how to treat our bodies so we flourish physically (stay healthy). But our spirits flourish “when we are rooted in and shaped by the Spirit of God …in a way that uniquely fits us.” (p. 29)
There is a person inside of you waiting to come alive (p. 30)
The Me I am Meant to Be
And here we are. We have worked through the versions of ‘me’ that are keeping us from the authentic, flourishing ‘me’ God wants us to be. So how do we become this me that is meant to be?
The answers are for you to discover. But keep this in mind: Your flourishing is never just about you. ..God designed you to flourish “so that” you could be part of his redemptive project in ways that you otherwise could not.” (p. 31).
When you become the best version of yourself, you are energized and content, even when you have problems or things don’t go smoothly. Life is not perfect it’s perfecting through lifelong learning.
When you are on the right track, you know it. Feel it. And others sense it too.
Wherever you are, don’t stay there. Cry out to the Lord and ask him “what’s my next step Lord?”