Ask Me: “What if God is Silent When I’m Making Decisions?”

What if God is Silent when I'm making decisions?

Dear Bronwyn,

How do you make big decisions when you feel like God is being quiet? I’m currently trying to make a decision and I feel no clarity or peace about any of it. Friends have advised me that God may just be giving me room to choose.

A year ago I was really wrestling with whether to change jobs to be nearer to my family. I decided to stay a while longer, but now a year has passed and I’m looking at moving back and every time I go to apply for a job, I can’t do it. I find I’m not really excited about it other than being closer to family and I can’t figure out why. Am I apprehensive about change? Is this God’s way of showing me it’s not time to leave? Do I need to just do something and see what happens? Is this ambivalence, and God’s apparent silence, a sign that I’m not supposed to move?

Signed,

Should-I-Stay-Or-Should-I-Go-Now

Dear SISOSIGN,

I don’t know of anywhere in Scripture that promises God will tell us what decisions to make, either by giving us a “feeling” (of peace/certainty/whatever), or necessarily by giving us a sign or a sole “open door” (just one of the many variations of the shoot Christians say.) While God certainly can and does sometimes work very surprisingly to illuminate options we might not have otherwise considered, seeing His hand in something is often only observed retrospectively.
So my advice to you is this: pray James 1 over it: ask for wisdom + believe that he gives it +decide and don’t doubt. I think we are always wise to take some time in praying and to say “speak, Lord, I’m listening”, but sometimes he doesn’t, and he HAS promised us that no matter whether we “feel” or “hear” anything, that if we ask for wisdom he will give it.
I agree with your friends: maybe He’s giving you freedom to choose in this. And honestly, in my experience, adulthood has been FILLED with decisions where I thought “Gee, I HOPE this is not a terrible idea.. .it seems like the best option right now, but I just can’t see the outcomes here and I’m not sure…” and then, months later, it becomes clearer where the whole thing was leading.
Coming to the US was just such a story for us: there were “open doors”, and then we suddenly found ourselves stuck in England and it seemed like “closed doors” all the way: what was God doing? did this mean we’d made a mistake? And we were Feeling All The Feelings: doubt, regret, and uncertainty. We finally did get here and experienced so many obstacles in the settling-in process that we really wrestled (Christian cliche alert again! Shoot!) with regret and whether this was a ‘sign’ that we had made the wrong decision… but then a few weeks later I found myself connecting up with a wonderful College ministry and all of a sudden there was a glimmer of an “aha! perhaps THAT is what God has been doing?!” … and it gave us courage. But I do remember CLINGING to James 1 in that time: whenever my husband and I got into a conversation second-guessing and doubting our decisions, I found myself saying “well, we asked God to guide us and we just HAVE to believe he helped us. We made the best decision we knew how.”
Perhaps this is not super helpful, but I hope it is at least hopeful… because Scripture DOES tell us that whether we are sentiently aware of an answer, your prayers for wisdom are neither unheeded nor denied.
Clarity may only come down the line, and I’d love to hear the story when things make a bit more sense.
Best,
Bronwyn
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5 thoughts on “Ask Me: “What if God is Silent When I’m Making Decisions?”

  1. I grew up with the impression that God had a specific plan for every little detail and I just needed to figure out His hidden plan in order to stay in His will. Then a lot of life happened and I was left feeling very confused and even ignored by God. I highly recommend the book “Living the Will of God as a Way of Life” by Sittser, which completely shifted my world view based on the Bible and allowed me to feel much freer in making decisions and trusting in God’s sovereignty and goodness.

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  3. Gary Friesen’s “Decision-Making and the Will of God” is another great resource.

    The thing i try to remember is that Jesus has set us free, and that includes the freedom to choose whichever decision we desire. It’s not just a cliche but the truth. Live here, live there, apply foe this job, stay in that job. It’s all OK.

    • Yes, that’s basically what Sittser says. Plus, if God wants us to make a particular decision, He will make that clear. We know He is capable of speaking in very obvious ways when needed! Otherwise, as you said, we are free so long as our motivation is toward God!

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