I stood in the cereal aisle, contemplating my choices. I wanted something with some semblance of nutrition, but also enough sugar that my children would at least consider eating it. But it was a full, long aisle of nothing but cereal. How could I choose?
Okay, so that’s kind of a silly example, but replace the long aisle of cereal with whatever decision you are facing. You could be house or apartment hunting. Or trying to decide whether or not to change or get another job. Perhaps a relative needs some support, or you simply can’t decide whether or not you should make a particular purchase.
Having options is good. Being immobilized by fear or indecision is not.
When you are uncertain how to proceed, how do you know what to do next?
In the book of Esther, you may remember that Esther marries the king of Persia, Xerxes. Things seem to be going fine, until one of the king’s most trusted advisors, Haman, forms a plot that will destroy the Jews. When Esther’s Uncle Mordecai finds out, he dresses in sackcloth and walked the city in mourning. Esther sends servants to find out what is going on, Mordecai encourages her to act–a plan that could get Esther killed. What did Esther do?
“Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:16)
The Secret to Esther’s Success
I love this passage for many reasons, but one is because it gives me a very simplistic method for making almost any decision. Esther basically did two things: she trusted her core beliefs and determined to ask for God’s wisdom.
Core beliefs really do make life simpler. Not easy, mind you, but if you can get to the core of who you are and what you believe, you can line decisions up against that and often find your answer without looking further or stressing over the choices.
And the Bible tells us that God gives wisdom generously to all who ask (James 1:5).
A Modern Example
Let me give you a better example than cereal. Recently, I found out two friends were going on a mission trip to a foreign country. My heart instantly wanted to give, but I also wanted to be wise. So I first told my husband I was interested in helping them and waited for his opinion. He was on board.
Next I talked with one of them and got the details. Why this trip? Why now? How much do you need? What will you be doing? How long will you be gone?
Finally, I lined up her answers with my core values, two of which are: spread the Gospel, and support women who are stretching their faith in God’s timing.
I knew these two women well enough to be able to see God working in their hearts. Their answers confirmed for me that this wasn’t a pleasure trip or something they would choose to do without God’s leading. And they are excited to go!
How could I sit on the sidelines and watch them go? I couldn’t. So I donated sacrificially and put their travel dates on my calendar so I will remember to pray. It’s going to be a great trip for them–one I think will rival the results Esther saw. No, they won’t save a whole nation from imminent death, but they will spread God’s love and be deeply touched by God themselves. And in my core values, that’s more important.
Does this work easily with every decision? Well, no. But many. I’d even say most, including my cereal dilemma.
So, what are your core values? And how can they help you make the decision you are facing?