All Christians yearn to live at the center of God's will. But how to discern his will is an art that eludes many of us. And the advice we get often conflicts.
Some tell us to look for a divine "blueprint" - the one perfect plan for our lives that we need to find. We are encouraged to search the Scriptures and hunt for signs, trying to uncover the map of our lives that God has drawn.
Others have rejected the blueprint school of guidance in favor of the "wisdom school." With minds renewed by the teaching of Scripture, we are to develop the wisdom necessary to make smart choices. We are told not to expect that there s just one answer to God's will for every decision we face. Several are possible.
The difficulty with both approaches, writes Gordon Smith, is that they minimize the presence and voice of god in times of choice. Instead, he argues for a third way. Smith suggests that we develop discernment as a spiritual discipline. By stressing the personal aspects of growing in our relationship with God, we can understand His will, not just in times of crisis, but throughout our daily lives.
This book provides no magic formulas, no recipes for guaranteed success - just insight, gleaned from centuries of lived Christian experience, that will guide and encourage you in the art of discerning God's will.
Gordon T. Smith is the academic vice president of Canadian Bible College and Canadian Theological Seminary in Regina, Saskatchewan.
My Notes on Listening to God
- What is causing the peace or lack of peace you're feeling about the decision? Search yourself to figure it out because it's usually not what you think initially.
- What are your true motives behind the dilemma? Is the motive to glorify God or something selfish like gaining honor/respect for yourself, wealth or security?
- Does your true motive serve only you or does it serve God and others before you?
- If you don't have the time to discern properly, make it. Not having the time is often a sign your priorities are not where they should be. Chapter 5 is very helpful and instructive in reducing complex situations into manageable decisions.
- What is the best decision under the circumstances? How could you make the maximum contribution to God's kingdom?
- God wants us to be happy and joyous, but to do so in relationship with him. He puts desires, interests, and abilities in our lives and we should use them to glorify him.
- Don't make decisions or try to discern alone. Once you have a direction, take it to other Godly people and talk it through with them.
- Don't ever make decisions out of despair, sadness or anger if you can help it. That feeling of discomfort or uneasiness is almost certainly from the devil. If the devil can get you to do something out of your despair rather than waiting on God, it will never be God's best for your life.
If the devil can get you to do something out of your despair rather than waiting on God, it will never be God's best for your life.
- Ask yourself, "what do I want" and answer honestly. Then assess your motives in wanting that outcome.
- Ask yourself, "what do others want from me?" and assess how their desires are affecting you and your decision making.
- List your fears and concerns (be specific) and then pray about them and give them to God. Good decisions cannot come out of fear. We cannot discern without hope.
- Our reference point in decision making must be God, not our present circumstances.