Have you ever tried to make a big decision and found yourself hopelessly stuck? You have your desires on one side, and conventional wisdom on the other, and all the while you’re straining to hear what God might have to say on the subject, wanting to make sure you’re on the right path.
It's just so stressful.
Deciding to go on the World Race was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. It was either that, or staying in college ministry which is something I knew I loved. Staying in college ministry was the safe decision for me. It was a path I recognized, a life I could picture in my mind. The World Race was this foreign thing, scary in every way. Worst of all, I had no idea what God wanted me to do.
I prayed about the decision constantly. I dreamt about it, worried about it, asked questions about it to anyone who would listen.
It was a huge decision, a life-altering one, and I didn’t want to make the wrong choice.
It was about this time that I read a blog post by Donald Miller that reframed everything for me. In the post he described a God who was much more concerned with the condition of our hearts than He was our exact sequence of rights and lefts.
He talked about God being like a Dad with His daughter, painting together on a blank canvas with a billion different colors. This was so different from the way I’d always pictured God— a Dad watching disapprovingly as His daughter attempts to Paint By Numbers.
That day I began to see that God really didn’t have a preference. There wasn’t a right answer and a wrong answer, He was giving me the choice. If I wanted to stay in the states and work in college ministry, He’d do beautiful things through it and it would be wonderful. If I wanted to leave and travel the world, He’d do beautiful things through it and it would be wonderful.
This wasn’t Paint By Numbers. This was a blank canvas where I could use any color I wanted.
Now, it’s important to say that this isn’t always the case. Sometimes there’s a clear right and a clear wrong. But usually, if we’re serving God’s kingdom and loving His people either way, I’ve found God to be pretty relaxed about which one we pick.
And so I was left with a decision. With no right answer, and no wrong answer, I had to choose. And that was even scarier.
I was lying in bed one night, going back and forth for the thousandth time on which path I was going to choose, when an idea popped into my mind.
It was a simple idea, as all the best ones are, and it just appeared. It was a question to ask myself, a way of filtering past all the fear and “what if’s” that were clouding up my mind. It’s a filter I’ve used ever since.
The question is this:
“What would you do if you knew God would be holding your hand every step of the way?”
At first the question seems hypothetical, kind of like, “What would you do if someone gave you a billion dollars?”
It seemed hypothetical until I ran through all the things I know about God and realized that it’s true. God promises us He’ll never leave us and never forsake us. Which is a fancy way of saying, “I’m right there with you kiddo, you can do this.”
So with that assurance under my belt, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. If I knew God would be holding my hand the entire time, I would travel the world. No question. And so I did.
God promises us that He’ll never leave us or forsake us, and with that kind of promise under our belt, we can get wild with our paint.
We can paint a life full of adventures that are bigger than anything we could do on our own, because we’re not on our own. That’s the best part.
I really don’t think God is a Paint By Numbers kind of Dad. He’s the kind of Dad who wants to go on an adventure with us and teach us something along the way. He’s a Dad who cares much more about the state of our heart and being close to us than He does a series of rights and lefts.
He’s a Dad who just wants to paint with us, who gives us a gigantic canvas of a life and some truly beautiful colors and says, “Go to town!”
And so with that freedom, the only thing holding us back is fear.
So then the question becomes, what would you do if you knew you didn’t have to be afraid? Because we don’t. We don’t have to be afraid. God will be with us every step of the way.
So what would you do if you knew you had nothing to fear? So then what will you do?
P.S. If you need more guidance on a big decision or something you're uncertain about in the future, check out these resources:
Girls Night #112: How to Trust God's Timing for your Life
The Between Places (prayer journal)