Know anyone who just has a hard time making decisions? I do! I must confess there are times, especially when I need to plunk down a great deal of money on something, when I just take forever to make a decision. I almost "labor" over the decision because I don't want to make a mistake when it comes to spending that sum of money. Recently, I purchased a new washer and dryer. Do you know it took me nearly six months to settle on the ones I was to buy? Yep, six months. Oh, my other ones were limping along, so I still had clean clothes, but in the interest of efficiency, timeliness of drying, and the like, they were at the end of their lifespan. The space constraints where they had to fit were one of the biggest factors, but when I found a couple which would work, they were hard to get in a set. It seemed one place would have a washer the right size, but not the dryer. The next place would have a dryer, but not a washer. Do you think either of them had complementary matching pieces? Nope! That made the challenge of making a decision even harder. I could go with only two brands and none of the distributors had a set of either one! When I finally found the ones I purchased, I even hesitated a little because it was a little more than I wanted to spend, but they fit, they were a good brand, and they were a matched set! Sometimes decisions we have to make in life come that way - a little awkwardly at first, leaving us with many a point of consideration, and presenting more of a challenge for us than we may have wanted to consider in the first place. Life isn't always as easy as following the steps in a recipe book. Sometimes it gets a little complicated and we just need the help of the one who wrote the recipe book to walk us through it!
Do any of you need wisdom? Ask God for it. He is generous and enjoys giving to everyone. So he will give you wisdom. But when you ask God, you must believe. Don’t doubt him. Whoever doubts is like a wave in the sea that is blown up and down by the wind. People like that are thinking two different things at the same time. They can never decide what to do. So they should not think they will receive anything from the Lord. (James 1:5-8 ERV)
One of the factors which plays into our decision-making is this whole idea of knowing when it is time to ask God for his help, or if this is perhaps the time he counts on us to use our common sense and past learning to make that decision. I don't think God particularly cared if I got this washer or that one, but he didn't want me to be a bad steward of the finances he graciously provides for me. He also didn't want me to stress over the decision! Herein is our main issue at times - the stress we put upon ourselves in these moments when we are between deciding and acting. Stress is often the simple "arguments" we engage in deep within ourselves which give rise to anxiety, hopelessness, and a plethora of other emotions. We don't mean to do it at times, but we just do because we either don't fully trust God to do what he says he will do for us, or we don't trust what we know to be right and then act upon it.
The struggle between knowing and doing is as old as creation itself. It dates back to the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve had to decide if they'd act upon their own desires, or listen obediently to the desires God set forth for their lives. This is something we almost miss when we read over the story in Genesis. It is one of desire - the struggle between ours and God's. You didn't get that wrong - I said desire is at the root of many of our trust issues and usually the main cause of our obedience issues, as well. We know what is right for us, but we don't always desire to act upon what we know. Desire brings passion into the mix where decisions have to be made. Often the thing we are most passionate about is what we find ourselves gravitating toward when we make the decision at hand.
When I need to purchase something like a new laptop, I become passionate about a couple of things. I want power, because I like to surf the web and play games at the speed of light. I want portability, because I don't want it to take up a lot of room in my backpack when I travel and I don't want a backache from carrying it. These two things are not always congruent, though. Power and portability are not always accomplished in the purchase. If they are, it usually means some other trade off - including a larger dollar figure! Desire plays into our decisions each and every time we make them - we may not realize it, but it does. If we can recognize this up front, we might just begin to make wiser decisions - because we will see how much we need to pray for God to not so much help us with the decision, but to clarify and bring into alignment our desires!
If we want to become "good" at making decisions which are consistently in keeping with what God would desire for our lives, we need to ask him to work on our desires first. When our desires mesh with his, we become much more reliable in the decisions we make. Just sayin!