Lately I’ve been reflecting on how our definition of “smart” as it regards choices is a very strange thing. We have all probably given advice to someone at some point who was doing something we didn’t think was the “smart move,” in the hopes of deterring them from a bad decision that could wreck their lives or the lives of those around them.
I think, though, that we need to be more careful before we throw out our advice.
Yes, it is sometimes important to speak up if we see someone acting in a destructive manner. Nathan spoke up to David when he was heading down the wrong path, and his rebuke prompted David to repentance for his adultery. Godly counsel is powerful and sometimes essential to help each other walk in the ways of Christ.
Sometimes, though, instead of being like Nathan, we’re more like ten of the men who went to explore the Promised Land and reported back that there was no way in the world that Israel could defeat the people there. We ignore what God said will happen and instead listen to what our “reason” says could be possible.
This past year, I witnessed my amazing sister be on the receiving end of counsel like that of the men who scouted out the Promised Land. As she prepared to step out in faith and do what the Lord had clearly told her He wanted, person after person spoke doubts into her mind. “That’s really not a good idea.” “Are you sure you won’t regret not finishing school?” “Financially, I don’t see how it will work.” I was so amazed by and proud of her perseverance in following God, even as Joshua and Caleb disregarded the objections of their companions and insisted that Israel should do just as the Lord had instructed, but I also witnessed how hard it was for her, how much those people’s objections hurt.
Now, I’m in a place to experience those dissuasions. For the past five years, I’ve planned on getting my teaching credential and then teaching high school. I’m sure I’ve written about it before. Throughout these past few months, though, as my last semester as an undergrad approaches, I was constantly in doubt about whether or not God actually wanted me to do that. Sure, it would be a very good career–teachers may not make a ton, but I could live on that salary, and I would love working with high schoolers, but always there was this knowledge that I wasn’t sure if God wanted me to be a teacher or to do something else. So I prayed, and I waited.
Last week, I finally made a decision to not get my credential next year. As soon as I made up my mind, it felt right. It was liberating. I had (and still have) no idea what I will end up doing after graduation, but it felt like I was moving in the right direction, like this is the best option God has for me, the way to the “good works which He prepared in advance for [me] to do” (Eph. 2:10). He would reveal the next step in plenty of time, in His perfect time, and I need only trust Him.
But suddenly it seems like all the people around me are simply voices of doubt. They object that I will end up regretting not getting my credential (funny thing is, if I’d never talked about planning to be a teacher, they would just be excited that I was getting my degree). Everyone wants to know what my plans are, then, if I’m not going to teach. I’ll need to plan something, right? I’ve got everything figured out?
One theme that underlies all of their questions and objections is their belief that the decision I’m making is not the smartest one, the wise decision.
In the end, after praying, remembering, and sometimes even crying, the conclusion I come away with is this: It’s always THE smartest decision to do exactly what God’s will is. It doesn’t matter what seems to make the most sense to the world. Did it make sense for a flood to cover the entire earth? For water to come out of a rock, for a sea to part down the center? To expect a city’s walls to crumble after marching around them for seven days? For a shepherd boy to kill the enemy champion before whom the entire army quaked in fear? For an altar of rock, soaked in water, to catch on fire?
And yet, Noah, Moses, Joshua, David, and Elijah–and countless others, besides–followed the Lord and did exactly what He said, and He did all these things. Our God is powerful. Our God is in control. What is wisdom to Him is foolishness to the world. He is entirely, completely, abundantly able to do everything and anything He wants.
(Through this all, a couple songs by C.J. Lassiter are being a tremendous help. I highly recommend that you visit her webpage and at least listen to her acoustic demo “I Jumped” at the bottom left. She’s amazing, and the song is amazing.)
Are you struggling with doubts right now? Take heart. Follow God.
Are you in a place where you’re giving advice? I strongly urge you to think about what you’re saying first. Does your counsel reflect God’s sovereignty and goodness and power, or does it contribute to the flurry of doubts already present for your counsel-ee?
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