By Barbara Martin
Why am I confused?
We all have questions — tough questions. Questions about life, God, the Bible and how it all works together. Barb Martin, a sweet believer and experienced counselor in Jackson, is going to answer some of those questions in this monthly column. She doesn’t claim to always be right, but she seeks wisdom from the One who is. Got a question for Barb? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: I am trying to make a decision between two paths. I have asked God for wisdom in faith; I have talked with trusted Christians for advice; I have read scripture that seems to pertain to the situation, and I am still confused. What do I do?
If neither option is contrary to God’s stated Word, I think it is good to ask yourself a few questions. If you have done all of the above and still feel confused, is there a deeper issue? Is it confusion you are feeling, or fear? If it is fear, what is the concern about? Is it the fear of making the wrong choice, and if so, what qualifies as the wrong choice? Are you looking for the option that is the most problem-free, enjoyable, pleasant and lucrative? Is success the most important factor in your decision? Whose view of success are you looking at?
I know at times we wish we had a timeline from the Lord reassuring us that everything is going to be OK, or a preview of what this choice will look like in our life. We think it would be easier if we grasped all the details of each option; but the fact is, even our desire to know the best outcome of a choice is a desire to control.
I understand this need for control. I grew up in a family where I learned that success in life equaled controlling outcomes. If I worked hard, I could certainly achieve success. If I got the right degree in the right field, I would be well thought of and respected. If I married the right man, my life would be problem-free. If I had family devotions and sang about the Lord when we were all in the car, certainly my children would love the Lord. If I had just the right house in the right neighborhood, then I would have achieved a place of respect.
I lived for many years under these expectations, but the reality of life was different. I didn’t have perfect children or a husband who gave me a problem-free life. My home is home, but it has never been the thing that gave me the status I thought it would provide.
The Lord does desire us to work hard, seek and heed the wise prayerful counsel of godly friends and make plans based on what we have before us. But at some point, it is up to us to make a choice between “A” and “B.” We need to understand there may not be a perfect answer; but once a decision is made, we must leave it in God’s hands and rest in Him without playing the “what if” game.
What happens when someone plays this “what if” game is that they get stuck and spin their wheels and the opportunity for either “A” or “B” might simply go away. If option “A” is your choice, do option “A” to the best of your ability and move forward in a way that is pleasing to God. Whether this is a dream come true or a nightmare, you will learn from either one.
God’s desire and ultimate goal for us is growth in character and Christ-likeness. We need to understand God’s economy is often different from ours. Because our nature is often so inwardly focused, we forget the bigger goal the Lord has for us, which is to be conformed to His image; to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
Paul Tripp in his book “Broken Down House” says, “Your Lord is not only the source of your rest. He loves you so much that He works to bring you to a greater level of real-life, practical confidence in His wise rule and, therefore, to a greater and more frequent personal experience of rest, even in the face of mystery and difficulty. The longer you follow Him, and the more you tire of the fruit of your own anxiety, the more you are willing to walk down another hallway of your life and say, ‘I don’t know exactly what my father is doing, but I know my Father loves me, and I do know that He is good.’”
Don’t get paralyzed longing to know the future but understand, “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)
Barbara Martin, LPC, LMFT, clinical coordinator of the Counseling Center at Reformed Theological Seminary, has her own private practice at RTS.