How to make day-to-day decisions in difficult times?
How is the Christian to make day-to-day decisions in difficult times? We do live in difficult times. As Christians we are more than often confronted with situations in which we really do not have all the answers and guidelines. And Satan tries to make this world and the Church of God a stinking swamp.
Stay in an intimate relationship with God
Of course, first and foremost, the relationship between a Christian and God must be intact and fresh. Since God and his nature is our guide, we need to keep in contact with Him. There are basic moral and spiritual principles rooted in the nature of God, to which those in a right relationship with Him must conform their thoughts, words, and deeds. This provides resources for both the daily grind and the emergency situations. For these difficult situations we must try to stay prayed-up for such times.
Listen to the Word of God
To this we would add the need to stay read-up in the Bible so that we have immediate access to both the power of prayer and the input from Scripture as we face the flood-endangered bridges of life.
God guided Paul by closing doors – blocked by the Spirit
Still we must face many situations for which there is no direct divine guidance in Scripture. God seldom speaks audibly. What then? In seeking God’s guidance, Paul’s experience in Acts 16:6-10 is instructive. He had finished his immediate task of delivering the decrees of the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) in Syria, Cilicia, Derbe and Lystra (15:41-16:4). He then had no clear instructions for further activity. He sought to go into the Roman province of Asia (modern Turkey) for further activity. But, he WAS FORBIDDEN BY THE HOLY SPIRIT (Acts 16:6). He was blocked by the Spirit. He then looked towards Bithynia, but again his way was blocked (vs. 7). He kept on going until he reached Troas (vs. 8). There he stopped because further progress in the same direction would have carried him into the Aegean Sea – the wrong way. At Troas he came to understand that God wanted him to go to Macedonia. He then realized he had been going in the right direction all along. God guided Paul by closing doors. This was possible because Paul was trying to go somewhere, and yet was willing to have his mind and direction changed.
There come times when, using our best God-given common sense and our best analysis of the situations, we must make a move, try to go somewhere, to do something; but then we must be open to the direction of the Holy Spirit. Movement, or a stop sign, however, is important. Prof Scott once said: It is difficult to steer a parked car!
Yes there are situations, sometimes dramatic or less dramatic, monumental or less monumental decisions that confront us daily. Are there direct Biblical guidelines for these? In many cases no! It is important to remind ourselves of the characteristics of a Christian. For Christian living, choices and decisions made in life should be consistent and in harmony with the guidance of the Holy Spirit – and not with personality cults in the Church or family. And remember the slogan vox populus vox dei (the voice of the people is the voice of God) is not always true. In Ephesians 4:2-3 Paul says the life of a Christian should inter alia be eagerness to maintain the unity of the Spirit.
As believers we live in a broken reality. We are living outside Paradise, in a world of thistles and thorns. There is evil in the world and even in the Church. If the Holy Spirit blocks you in a certain decision or direction listen carefully. If His red light is on, stop! In moments of doubt move slowly. If the light of the Spirit is green move forward and like Paul you will be blessed. I must admit that in my life, I took hasty decisions on my own where I didn’t notice the red light of the Spirit. The outcomes were disastrous. If I only listened to the blocking of the Spirit!! But again, His grace was enough!!
Soli Deo Gloria!