Saturday, October 8, 2011

Decision Making and the Will of God {Part 2}

{by Katrina Rebsch}
Keeping in mind that prayer is the foundation, here is my decision making filter:

The Word of God
            The Holy Spirit
                        Authorities (and/or a Multitude of Counsel)
                                    Confirming Circumstances

Let me explain. 

Usually to even start passing through the filter, the decision to be made is triggered by a desire, an interest, or an opportunity.  For example, when I graduated from high school, I had the desire to experience life on the foreign mission field.  A couple months later, I read a prayer letter from a missionary family in Peru that our church supported asking for a young lady to come live with them to assist with the homeschooling of their children as well as other ministries they were involved with.  As I began praying about this opportunity that seemed to fit with my goals and desires so closely, I also began to seek direction from God’s Word.  Verses that He gave me in connection to this decision were written down in my journal.  “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”  (Psalm 119:105) 

I also asked for peace from the Holy Spirit to know if this was truly His will.  The Holy Spirit works in conjunction with our spirit in different ways.  Sometimes it’s through a gut instinct, an inward red flag that can’t be ignored, an unsettled feeling, a deep sense of peace, or words He actually speaks into your thoughts.  “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Romans 8:14)

Of course, my parents were very much involved in this decision.  I greatly value their counsel and wisdom when it comes to understanding the will of God for my life, and while they do not make decisions for me, their blessing or lack thereof holds great weight for me.  As an unmarried woman, I am under their authority, and as we noted above, God’s will is for us to submit to our earthly authorities.  As we prayed about this opportunity in Peru, my parents sent many questions to the missionary family, sought counsel from trusted advisors, and eventually gave me their stamp of approval.  “Honor thy father and mother which is the first commandment with promise.” (Ephesians 6:2)  “In the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” (Proverbs 11:14)

In the example of this decision about the opportunity in Peru, as the decision was passed through this filter, all the lights proved to be green.  God had given me verses in His Word providing direction, there was peace from the Holy Spirit, and my authorities had given their blessing.  When all the lights are green like this, I then ask the Lord for circumstances that confirm His will.  Depending on the situation, these might be financial provisions, job applications that are accepted, open or closed doors, etc.  He has always been faithful to give this confirmation!

It’s a simple process really.  What does God’s Word say?  What does the Holy Spirit say?  What do my authorities say?  Are the circumstances favorable?

By way of another example, a couple of years ago, I learned of a staff opening at the crisis pregnancy center where I had been volunteering for several years.  My mom was actually the one who asked me if I had thought about applying for the position.  I told her no and shared my reasons with her.  When she mentioned that she thought I’d be perfect for the job, it got me thinking that perhaps my reasons weren’t show-stoppers after all and that I should at least pray about it.  It was a big decision since my commitment there would be for at least a year.  Once again, the decision making filter proved invaluable! 
  • The Word of God (check)
  • The Holy Spirit’s leading (check)
  • Authorities (check)
  • Confirming Circumstances (check - my application was accepted and I got the job!)

On the flip side, this decision making filter saved me from marriage to the wrong man!  According to the clear leading of the Lord, I had enrolled in missionary language school for a year to study Spanish full time and prepare for future mission work in Latin America.  On day three of my new life on campus I was completely swept off my feet by a Godly, dashing young man from Ecuador.  As we began to get to know one another, we really felt like God was leading us together.  We prayed and fasted and sought His will.  I believed I received verses from God’s Word, initially there was peace, and our authorities were all in approval, albeit my parents had some initial misgivings.  But then, things started to change.  The Holy Spirit led me to see major concerns and red flags that initially I did not recognize.  Trusted friends called me with concerns of their own and as I sought further counsel, every person I spoke with had legitimate issues to point out and reasons for believing that this relationship was not the best.  In the end, we recognized that we just weren’t compatible for marriage and that it was best to call things off.

My friends, God is so faithful!  When we earnestly desire to know and do His will, He is not going to hide it from us!  He will honor the one who seeks Him.

Sometimes, I think we overcomplicate God’s will or succumb to fears that we might miss it, such that it handicaps us from doing anything!  That’s why I love the passage in Acts 16:6-7.  Speaking of Paul and his band of merry men, it says, “Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach in Asia, after that they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit suffered them not.”  Paul didn’t passively sit around waiting for visions all the time to know where to go and what to do.  He took initiative traveling from city to city preaching the Gospel.  Occasionally, there were times when the Holy Spirit needed to forbid him to preach in certain places or closed the doors when necessary in order to direct Paul’s steps as He saw fit.

So don’t be afraid to take some initiative and “knock” on some doors to see if they might lead to God’s will!  God can always stop you from going in a certain direction if He needs to.

Back to our hypothetical example of you getting ready to complete your degree and wondering what to do next.  My first piece of advice is: examine your interests, desires, and/or the opportunities God has set before you.  You were created to do specific good works which God has before ordained!  And I personally believe He often tailors these good works to the person He has created you to be.

Do you want to teach English as a second language in China?  Design a class for homeschoolers?  Pursue a master’s degree?  Get a job and sponsor an orphan child in a foreign country?  Gain experience in a certain field?  Minister to children or widows or orphans or young ladies? 

Once you figure out your desires or recognize some open doors that might be before you, run your decisions through this handy filter.
  • What does God’s Word say?
  • What does the Holy Spirit say?
  • What do your parents or authorities say?
  • What circumstances do you see as confirming this next step?
Of course, pray, pray, pray!  God is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him!

I know this article has grown long, but perhaps you’ll allow me to share one more thought in closing.  As exciting as it is to receive answers to our prayers and to have God’s specific will for our lives revealed to us, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be easy to obey.  I know it’s God’s will for me to be here in Bolivia ministering to children at the orphanage where I am living.  But when I signed up for this job, I had no idea it would include so many hardships, homesickness, and even Hepatitis A.  Many times, God’s will includes suffering or refining for purposes much higher than our own.

In everything, though, He is faithful and His will is worth pursuing!

“The world passeth away and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” 
(I John 2:17)

[[check out Decision Making and the Will of God {Part 1} if you missed it]]


  1. Katrina, thank you for this post! It was such a timely and encouraging reminder for me as I am trying to seek God's will and direction for some decisions in my life right now.

    Hope you're feeling better--praying for you!


  2. Hey Michelle! Thanks so much for your comment! I am encouraged to know you are encouraged. :) This was prayer as I wrote this article, so to God be the glory! He knows what we need when we need it. What a privilege it is to be His! May He give you much wisdom for the decision to be made in your life right now. Love you girl!

  3. This is so great, Katrina. Decision making has always been hard for me, and these guidelines are so wise. I especially like the line "Don't be afraid to take some initiative and "knock" on some doors" so true! You can't be passive, God's will doesn't just come in the mail:)
    Thanks for a great post!

  4. Loved your post Katrina! You shared some great insights and wisdom in a very clear, understandable way. Great job!