This is a long one, so please forgive me!
It used to drive me mad when someone would talk about praying that the right choice is made, that the choice that pleases God is made. That the Lord's will be done. It made me even more upset when I was told, "Praying you make the right decision." I'm not talking about choosing to do sin or not to do sin, or even determining if something is sin. I'm talking about choices in life's cross roads. The ones where you can see good no matter the path you take, where you can honor God in both directions. I thought- There is no right decision!!!
Now before you start thinking of arguments to what I just said, let me remind you that I said, "It USED to drive me mad."I want to share with you my transformation of thought and how it came to change.
It was hard to me to wrap my head around the idea that God had a right way for me to go when He was supposed to be the God who gives His people choice. And besides, isn't his will always done? I mean everything that happens... He allows it to happen right? As you can see, I had such a dignified philosophy... just kidding. But really, that was I thought. What I most couldn't understand was how can there be a right path when I can honor God in both directions. Why do I need to seek His counsel? It just sounded crazy to me. Maybe if I was praying to make the best choice for the impact it would have on my life.... but I couldn't see why I needed to pray that I would make the choice that would please God. He gave me the right to choose after all. That was how I thought.
Recently I was having a conversation with one of my sisters-in-Christ, someone who I think is very good as seeking to do God's will in all the choices she makes. I wanted to understand why she felt like she needed to do that. And more so, I needed to be convinced of why I needed to do it.
She so sweetly reminded me that evil doesn't come from God, and that she didn't think that it was God's will that evil be done. Evil makes God sad. (Oh ya... didn't I learn that!) So God's will wasn't always done.
Then we went on to talk about how God gave us choice so that we could choose Him. God wanted us to choose Him because we WANT to choose Him. (Sort of like how I want Blake to play Life with me because he wants to spend time with me, not because I make Him.)
She told me that she believes that there is a right decision to be made. That God does have a path He wants us to take. He wants us to choose to take that path though. This is why we pray, and study, and listen for the Holy Spirit!
At this point I was on board 100%! I get it! But I was still confused. Say you can see opportunities to serve and honor God on both paths... how do you know which one God wants you to take? (I had a specific situation on my heart, one not yet ready for a blog about, but is never-the-less, on my heart quite often. ) I told her that I knew which direction I wanted to take if the opportunity arose, I just can't see how it wouldn't be a good thing! How do you know your not going against God's will?
She gave me some very powerful advise.
She said that I needed to tell God what I really wanted to do. But I needed to request to God, "Please shut this door, if it's not in your will."
This was powerful to me. How strong I'd have to be to request that God shut a door that I want to go through.
Just like I have to pray for the Lord to shield me from temptation, I have to pray that He'll shut a window of opportunity if it isn't for me.
Now I know, I can't just always go about doing things my way and expecting God to stop me if I'm wrong. I think there is power though in asking for His mighty hand.
There is always a way to seek God's way. I'm just so glad I learned that.
I want to end with this passage taken from The Message's interpretation of Romans 8: 5-10
"Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God's action in them find that God's Spirit is in them- living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing And God isn't pleased at being ignored.
But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won't know what we're talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells- even though you still experience the limitations of sin- you yourself experience life of God's terms."