Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Decisions and Following God (Part 1)

We all know the verses and the Christian thing to do: seek God. Sometimes, we know that we have to just wait on the Lord. But then, there are those times when we just might need to do the “follow God” part. And sometimes, that’s where life seems to suddenly get a little tricky.

Or am I the only one?

The last few months have been a seesaw of ideas, counsel, and decisions. And praying. Lots of praying. Why? Because for me, now is a time for taking active steps and changing. There aren’t really huge decisions being made right now—I’m not buying a house (yet), and no, I’m not about to get married—but I’m the girl who likes life to stay the same. The one who would prefer to just continue life in my own little (er, big) family, taking life as it comes at me. For me, this time of decision-making has been a whirlwind. Like I told one friend, “I’m not considering change because I like it or because I want to, but because it’s the next step I truly believe God is leading me to do.”

But enough about me and my feelings. Because I know I’m not the only one in this boat. Whether you are eighteen, twenty-eight, thirty-eight, in between, under, or above, you’ll go through seasons in life where God leads and change must happen. Decisions must be made. Steps must be taken. How do we know we’re staying on target in these times?

We all know this one: “Just pray about it.” In fact, if you have a good circle of friends, they’ll encourage you to be praying about decisions. They’ll even pray with you and for you. But just because it’s the common Christian answer, I’m not going to skip over it.

There is nothing too big nor too small, but that we should pray about it. We see many examples of godly men and women in the Bible who did this very thing. When the Amalekites invaded Ziklag, burned it, and took captive the women and children, David paused to seek the Lord (1 Samuel 30). He made the time—in the midst of a “time sensitive” matter!—to seek God for the next step he was to take. On the contrary part, we see that King Rehoboam did evil “because he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord.” (2 Chronicles 12:14) Psalm 105:4 exhorts us to “Seek the Lord, and His strength: seek His face evermore.” (“Evermore” means constant, regular, continuance).

Prayer isn’t just an optional step to do when we feel like it, or if the issue feels bigger than we are. Prayer is important! If you’re trying to make decisions, but haven’t consciously stopped to pray about this decision, stop now. Set apart some dedicated prayer time. Communicate with God about your plans. It’s not wrong to make plans and decisions. Proverbs 16:9 says, “A man's heart deviseth his way…” but it doesn’t stop there. It continues with, “but the Lord directeth his steps.” How are we going to know God is directing our steps if we won’t even ask Him about it?

Do What You Know is Right
Sometimes, instead of seeing a clear path paved in front of us, we hear the Lord reminding us to wait on Him. Okay…now what? A time of waiting is not always a time of inactivity. Instead, do the things you know are Biblically right to do. Go to church. Dig into God’s Word. Pray. Be like Job: “My foot hath held His steps, His way have I kept, and not declined.  Neither have I gone back from the commandment of His lips; I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” (Job 23:11-12)

We can’t expect God to bless us if we aren’t even trying to follow the commands He has established in His Word. And, if we are doing what we know to do is right, let us not be discouraged! God’s timing and His ways are always perfect. But we’ve got to trust Him in that (Psalm 18:30, “As for God, His way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: He is a buckler to all those that trust in Him.”)

Remember: if God’s Word is in your heart, He will establish your steps. Psalm 37:31 promises such: “The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.”

Take the Next Step
Then, like I indicated earlier, there are those times to take the next step. This is honestly where I struggle the most. I like being active, I like making progress, but I do not always like being the one to decide when those active steps need to be taken. Believe it or not, I’m not a big dreamer. Just let me do my little hobbies and teach my wonderful students, and I’m happy. But that’s not always the step God wants me to stay on.

One example that stands out clearly to me is the start of With a Joyful Noise. Running a music company wasn’t really on my agenda—which is why I’m grateful that many times, God places those next steps in front of me. I began talking music with a missionary, and she asked if there was a way that I could teach one of their locals via video correspondence. That got my brain turning with ideas. It also really scared me. It was an exciting possibility, yes, but also a huge step for little, local-minded me. I talked with my parents, did a ton of praying, and that one conversation with the missionary broadened my perspective. Because of that one conversation, I began offering video lessons, digitally published my sheet music (which then led to later physically publishing it), and set up a website. Oh, and you know what? The plans to teach via the missionary fell through. I never took that step that I thought I would. But instead, God used it to lead me to a place where I took many other steps that I never would have considered without that idea sparked on by the missionary.

 Reminding myself of that example helps me when I’m facing decisions today. For example, I’m praying about doing some circuit teaching (setting up a studio about an hour away, once a week). The first step is to save for and purchase my own vehicle. The second step may be to get some long-distance studios set up. Or…God may change the direction after I take my first step. I don’t have to know what God is planning on doing in the future. I just have to take this step that He has led me to today.

Some verses that encourage me when I’m in this “next step” phase are:
Psalm 18:32—It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.
Psalm 37:5—Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
Psalm 142:3—When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path. In the way wherein I walked have they privily laid a snare for me.
Psalm 143:8—Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.

Proverbs 16:3—Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established. 

Come back tomorrow for Part 2... some things to remember.


Darcy Fornier said...

This was a blessing, Amanda. Thank you for sharing what the LORD has been teaching you. :)

Rebekah said...

Excellent reminder, Amanda!
I'm the sort of person who likes changes, but then has too many ideas and gets completely overwhelmed and wants life to go back to simpler times. ;) Or I get so caught up in the newest idea, that I forget the other things I should be working on. Even when things are slow and "normal" or when they are crazy busy, God has a path for us to follow.

Sharon K. Connell said...

So glad your household is feeling better, Amanda.

Amanda Tero said...

@ Darcy - I'm very grateful it was a blessing to you!

@ Rebekah - I can definitely see that angle happening. ;)

@ Sharon - thank you! We're very glad to be better too!

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