By Kevin Howell
Sometimes as Christians, I think our biggest problem isn’t sin or temptation, but rather it’s over-processing. We think too much. Because of our fascination with fate; and belief in providence, we often examine the grand purpose in every decision and every action we take in life. I believe every day of our lives has purpose, and we should consult God and seek Him in prayer as He orders our steps. But I also believe that we can use our instincts — instincts that have been shaped by God — to move, act, decide, and live our lives.
I once heard a missionary at church say that men of God are men of action. That had a profound impact on me because for so much of my Christian journey I had been hesitant to make choices, waiting for a confirmation from God in the form of a burning bush, seven plagues, a rainbow, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree. But what I learned is that the more I grew in Christ, the more I recognized His voice and His leading. And the more in sync I became with Him in my spirit and my lifestyle, the more I developed His character — well, in most areas. Thus, the stronger He became in me, the more His instincts became my instincts. The gut feeling that I get most of the time when faced with a decision has been placed there by Him. But that’s not easy to accept because it’s not supposed to be that easy. Surely, I have to fast for a week, lie prostrate for hours to hear Him, right? Not exactly.
God’s voice and leading is unique to each relationship He has with His children. I realize that sometimes direction in life calls for those aforementioned actions, but those actions aren’t means of begging God for direction. That’s silly. God wants to give us direction. He wants for us to choose wisely. Why would He make His will elusive? He doesn’t. We make it elusive. We make it deeper than it’s meant to be. Sure, there is some wrestling within, some conflict of choice at times, which is natural to the human experience, and it compels us to seek Him for clarity. But if we have made fellowship with God part of our lifestyle, and we regularly listen to His voice and obey His Spirit, and we are growing spiritually, chances are we know the right choices to make instinctively.
It’s almost like your relationship with your closest friend. You probably know her well enough that when you come to her for advice, you pretty much know what she’s going to say due to your bond.
I was reading an interview with actor Idris Elba in Men’s Health, and though he wasn’t speaking from a Christian perspective, he said something profound: “They say your first instinct is right almost all the time. But even if it’s wrong, the next instinct is to fix it, quickly.” I believe God thinks the same thing. Even if we do make the wrong choice, most decisions aren’t life or death. We can always rectify it. Change course. In fact, God even expects us to get it wrong from time to time. He allows room for error. He calls it grace.
Saint Augustine once said: “Love God, and do as you please.” I used to think that was a dangerous statement, but now I get it. If you have a heart for God, truly love Him, and are in the process of understanding His love for you (because none of us completely comprehends it), you know He wants you to live life, not waste time thinking about it and trying to figure it out.
So let’s stop over-thinking our God, making this journey more difficult than it is. Trust Him. Lean on Him. Speak with Him regularly, and follow your instincts.
Further study: Check out 2 Corinthians 2:9-16