Gary Friesen’s exhaustive book Decision Making and the Will of God deals on how to know God’s will for your life. Admittedly, I’m reminded of one of the major decisions I’ve ever made in my life: moving to BCI—Bible Church International, New Jersey, USA—with my family.
So how did I make the personal decision to come here?
Honestly, my wife knew that I really don’t want to raise a family in the US. I have so many biases and misconceptions regarding the dangers of raising a family here. All I want is just to come for a vacation. But God corrected me on that matter.
Then, a major—some would say a tragic but providential—and circumstantial shift came to our lives. As a person who has given my life to God and for His service, I know nothing but to seek and pursue God’s will.
1. Make the Best Out of Your Decision Making.
I adhere to “making the best use of your time” and that I cannot afford to waste my life on the deceptions and delusions of a corporate life. Like most of you, I wanted also to continually know the will of God.
Before I make major decisions, here are some of the “road signs” I often observe in knowing and following God’s will:
- I observe the circumstances if God is leading my family and me to a different direction and level of life and leadership.
- I earnestly pray for God’s guidance that His will be done and not my personal agenda.
- I also read the Bible and meditate on it and discern that the Lord will show me something through His Word.
- I also consult my wife and children to know if my whole family is in the same direction we’re going.
- I talked with my mentors to help me pray, understand, and see the plans and options better.
- I listen to the pieces of advice of spiritual men and women to help me know the direction I’m taking.
- I also use the wisdom of leadership to see if the decision is aligned with my life purpose and the God-given visions, dreams, and goals that God gave me. This includes weighing all my options with the positives and negatives.
- Once I know in the spirit my why and what, as well as see that all these indicators are leading to one direction, then I personally know with conviction that the path I’m taking is God’s will.
2. Move On with an Open Heart and Mind.
Some might call me “old-fashioned” but I’ve proven it in my personal journey that there are great lessons, benefits, and significance of these.
In fact, in Friesen’s book, he calls this the “traditional view.” He cites that customarily, Christians try to know God’s will through “God’s Words” and “circumstances.” He also classifies the “inner witness” and “mature counsel” as belonging to the old view. For him, “personal desires,” “common sense,” and “supernatural guidance” are very subjective.
As I’ve been reading and writing for a long time, I noticed how intelligent people think of introducing new or “alternative” things, only to end up with the old one.
When Friesen offers his alternative to knowing God’s will through “The Way of Wisdom,” the fact that it’s about wisdom is nothing new. Wisdom is as ancient as time.
When Friesen argued that when there are specific commands, it requires obedience. I wonder how Friesen chooses to obey some and do not do the other commands in the Bible?
When Friesen refused to obey on some commands because of the context between Israel and the church, does he make a serious flaw that God might have a personal plan for each person in whom whose very “number of hairs” he definitely knew?
In Friesen’s argument, when there is “no freedom” it means you have the freedom to choose, while when there is “no command” then you have also the freedom to choose.
As such, when you make decisions that are morally good and wise, you have to trust for God’s details in the future. If there is no such thing as God’s personalized will for every person, why delve into the idea of “details”? After all, God is a generalist—at least for Friesen.
3. Merge the Path of Wisdom and the Power of Prayer.
My contention is that wisdom is nothing new. In fact, the book of Proverbs is solidly about the way of wisdom. The truth is, people in the Bible did not know much about God and His will through a diagram or systematic knowledge on theology, contextualization, or managerial weighing of options. In fact, these things are still very subjective—if not philosophical.
The truth is, people in the Bible knew about God through their personal experiences and by applying what they’ve learned, they gained wisdom.
Of course, they have oral traditions since printed Bible at that times were so expensive. But even the wisest leaders in the Bible came to follow God’s will by praying, reading the Word, seeking advice, common sense, etc.
What I’m proposing is not the abandonment of the old ways. The fact that things have become a tradition means it is established—or else it should have been long gone for its ineffectiveness and non-productivity or as an erroneous interpretation of the Bible.
Instead of an either/or approach to the concept of knowing God’s will, why not take the dynamics of a both/and method?
I believe we will understand better the powerful interplay between subjectivity and objectivity of knowing God’s will. The “Will of God” is an objective truth; our “personal decision” is something subjective.
Moreover, our “prayers” may be subjective, but God’s answer is objective. It’s His prerogative, but unless we pray we’ll never know.
The Bible is also objective; our interpretation and meditations may sometimes be subjective. It means we may know the context of every text but we also choose the angle that speaks to us in a very personal way.
Remember, “alternative” means “one of two or more possibilities.” It is not the sole option. That’s why I still retain the traditional way—although I don’t think the path of wisdom is something recent or new.
I still would love to explore more about the path of wisdom and the power of prayer together. By combining them all, I don’t see anything that I have to lose in knowing and following God’s will.
My concern is the prospect of practicality and personal choice to overshadow the principle of spirituality. For this one thing, I know: Our God can be very impractical. In fact, He has mastered the art of impossibility. And to believe in that objective truth and follow that line of thinking is far from being practical.
Just a precaution: going to bipolar extremities can lead to heresies.
Too much of subjective spirituality can lead to mysticism. On the other hand, leaning towards the extremes of wisdom could land anyone to pragmatism.
Glenn Plastina © 2018