Deciphering God's Will
Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to reside there as an alien, for the famine was severe in the land.
Two of our most primal instincts are fight and flight. When the going gets tough, we tend to fall back on one of these two defaults.
In Genesis 12:10-20, Abraham faced a famine in the land God called him. Instead of sticking it out to see how God would provide in the situation, Abraham fled to Egypt. Abraham let the circumstance dictate his direction. We tend to fall back on this same default, we let the uncertainty of tough circumstances make us flee from what God has for us.
When the going gets tough, how do the tough know what the Godly thing to do is instead of letting the circumstance tell us what to do? When I was in college, the lady discipling me showed me a neat illustration for making godly decisions.
Imagine, if you will, a picture in a frame. The decision to be made is the picture. Each side of the frame surrounding the picture is an important component to making the decision. On the bottom is God's Word, the top is prayer, one side is Godly counsel and the other side is the context of the decision (ie the circumstance).
Every part of the frame is important; without any one of the sides, the decision would fall. They are all needed together.
- We need to know what God thinks of the decision, so we need to consult His Word - 'Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.' (Psalm 119:105 ESV),
- and pray for wisdom - 'If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.' (James 1:5 ESV).
- We need godly counsel to be sure we're not making God's Word suit our purposes by taking Scripture out of context (definitely guilty of this one).
- And finally we need to look at the decision in context of our circumstances.
For example, if the decision is taking a job in California but my husband is still in school in Ohio, God probably is not calling me to take that job. If I consult His Word, I find that as a wife, I am to submit to my husband's leadership (Ephesians 5:22). If I pray for wisdom, I might see that this decision does not make sense. Godly counsel would remind me that my husband and I are one flesh (Genesis 2:24), and that I should remain with him. It doesn't look like my circumstances would benefit from this decision.
Holding the frame up are two strings tied to a nail. One string represents our obedience and the other represents God's sovereignty. The nail is our action. When we put our decision into action, we need to be obedient to God's direction and realize that God's sovereignty will accomplish His will. Our disobedient actions may cause negative consequences and make achieving God's purpose harder, but God's purpose will still be achieved.
Abraham's decision to go to Egypt took only his circumstance into consideration. As a result, he sinned and caused others to sin. God's direction will never cause us to sin. If we make a choice that leads us to sin, we can be pretty certain that God wasn't behind that choice. Abraham was in a tight spot during the famine, but he let his circumstance cause him to forget who God is.
God, the one who called Abraham into the tight spot, was not a about to let Abraham down. And He won't let you down, He'll help you through every decision, big or small. Will you trust Him? Will you ask Him for wisdom, see what His Word says? Will you ask a Godly friend for advice?