On faith: Better decision making
Rev. Joseph Whiting
Grace Baptist Church, Two Harbors
On this National Day of Prayer weekend, let’s think about the topic of prayer. Remember the Old Testament story of Gideon and his fleece (Judges 6:36-40)? I’ve faced plenty of decisions in my life where I prayed for divine guidance. When choice A and choice B seem equally attractive, how do you know which path is God’s path for you? Like Gideon, maybe you have prayed: “Lord, if you want me to ____, then please cause _____ to happen.”
Gideon was paralyzed at one of life’s crossroads. Having recently learned that he was God’s choice to lead the fight against Israel’s enemies, he had a hard time believing it (Judges 6:1-24). His choice was either to believe God and prepare for battle or stay home and ignore God.
So he devised an unusual little test involving the hide of a sheep (fleece) and the overnight condensation we call dew. Gideon wanted God to cause dew to fall on the fleece, but not on the ground surrounding it. The second night God was to do the opposite. The unexplainable results were Gideon’s confirmation to go and fight. But is this a pattern for us to make difficult decisions today? Let me suggest five reasons why this story is not a pattern for determining God’s will for our lives.
Gideon already knew what God’s will was (6:14).
Gideon’s request was born of doubt, not faith. (6:36).
Gideon’s request was both mystical and subjective (6:37-38).
Gideon’s fleece provided inconclusive evidence forcing him to do it again (6:39).
Gideon knew he was provoking God to anger by testing Him like this (6:39).
Why then, you may ask, did God answer Gideon’s request concerning the fleece? Because God is gracious. Even when our faith is weak and wavering, He wants to guide us. But that doesn’t mean we should honor our weak faith by testing God. So then how can we make tough decisions and lose the fleece?
Trust God’s good heart toward you.
We can rest assured that God has a plan for us. He who numbers the very hairs of our heads is certainly not disinterested in you. God told ancient Israel, “I know the plans I have for you…plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29:11). In Psalm 32:8 God says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” Believers in Christ can be confident that God delights in revealing His plan to us. He has clearly done so in His Word, the Bible.
Second Principle: Rest in God’s complete sovereignty over all.
Often our decision making process is difficult because the focus is on ourselves. This can produce major anxiety. The Hebrew prophet Daniel put the focus back on God. “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might…He removes kings and sets up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding (Daniel 2:20-21).
Consider this: The God who loves you unconditionally in Christ has everything under His control. If He can control earthly dynasties and pagan rulers, He can certainly guide His children through life. So the next time you’re bordering on a panic attack over some decision, just rest in God’s super-ability to guide you safely toward His ultimate goal for you – that of being transformed into the image of His Son.
Rev. Joseph Whiting is the pastor at Grace Baptist Church in Two Harbors.