Now as far as smaller, everyday decisions? The less impact it has on our lives, on other’s lives, and on God’s kingdom, the less we need to spend time sweating over it in prayer. It’s not wrong to ask God’s guidance about the route we take home from work, if we should buy the blue dress or the green one, if we should go to the beach today or tomorrow. But we don’t need to dwell on them, either, feeling like we need to get God’s expressed direction in every decision we make. It’s just not possible to live life this way.
If we live wisely - abiding in Him and having learned to heed the Spirit’s nudges and “red flags” - then we can go forward in life, making decisions as we go, knowing that He will direct our feet as we walk and that He will send up “pause” signals as we need them. Because the Spirit lives in us. (But we need to learn to recognize the signals and to heed them.)
So for those non-huge, everyday kinds of decisions, I try to do a “Spirit check.” If there’s something that I’m not sure that I should say or do (and that isn’t violating any Biblical principles), I pause slightly to check-in with God. “Lord, is it okay if I . . .?” Or “Should I . . .?” And if I don’t feel any sense of unrest or “Don’t,” then I feel that it’s okay to go ahead with it. I trust that as long as I’m seeking to be obedient, to glorify Him, and to be sensitive to Him, He will close the door if and when it’s not right.
It’s kind of like a husband and a wife that are with a group of people. And as the wife starts to share a story about something that has happened in their family, she looks over at her husband to see what kind of look he is giving her. It’s either the “go ahead” look or “THE LOOK,” the one that says, “You better not go there!” This is what I try to do for the smaller decisions. I look to God, through the Holy Spirit’s guidance, to see if I’m getting the “go ahead” look or “THE LOOK.” And if I get “THE LOOK,” then I know that I need to either not do it or to spend some more time in prayer and in God’s Word over it.
And I do think that it’s important to make a habit of doing this - of seeking to be and learning to be receptive to the Spirit - because sometimes those “insignificant” decisions can have a significant impact on our lives. Maybe we end up going on vacation the same day that there’s a tornado. Maybe we choose the cutest dog, but it ends up being the meanest one in the bunch. Maybe we buy a car that ends up with serious problems. I believe that God is willing to offer His guidance in these “little” decisions if we seek it, but that He doesn’t necessarily offer His guidance if we would rather go ahead in our own wisdom.
Like with the Gibeonite deception, Joshua didn’t inquire of God. And I believe that if he did, it would have been revealed to him. And there is another instance with Joshua that shows me the importance of inquiring of God. Joshua 6 tells the story of the Israelites taking Jericho, with God’s miraculous help. But in Joshua 7, after Jericho, we read how Joshua makes a foolish decision in his own wisdom. He had sent men to spy on Ai. And when the men returned, they said that there were only a few people there and so Joshua should only have to send two or three thousand people to successfully take it.
So Joshua does this. And it probably seemed wise to him, a piece of cake compared to the battle that they just went through taking Jericho. Well, verses 4-5 tell us, “So about three thousand men went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai, who killed about thirty-six of them. . . .” Now, this happened because of one man’s sin, when Achan took some of the things that were devoted to the Lord.
But what we don’t read in this story, in contrast to many of the other stories during Joshua’s reign, is that he “inquired of the Lord.” In this instance, he did not seek the Lord’s guidance about going after the city of Ai. I believe, once again, that God would have revealed Achan’s sin to Joshua and would have advised them not to go after Ai until the Achan situation was handled . . . if Joshua had inquired of the Lord.
It’s important to learn to inquire of the Lord and to learn to be sensitive to the Spirit’s leading. And the closer you walk with the Lord, the more likely you are to remember to inquire and to recognize the Spirit’s nudges along the way. And the more obedient you are, the more likely He is to nudge again in the future. We can deaden ourselves to His nudges by refusing to heed them and to obey.
Not too long ago, I felt a nudge by the Holy Spirit. Actually, it was more like a burning inside of me about something that I should say to someone. I was talking with a woman I never met before at a beach. She told me that she was a Christian but that she was in the beginning of getting a divorce from her husband. She was fed up that he didn’t do anything but sit on the couch, and he had no ambition in life to accomplish anything. And she told me about the kids and about how she felt bad for what a divorce would do to them.
And from inside of me came this burning desire to tell her four words: “It’s not too late!” Just four little words. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was the Holy Spirit telling me that I needed to say these words to her. I could tell that she didn’t really want a divorce, but she didn’t know what else to do. She wanted to be talked out of it, I could just tell.
And you know what I did? Nothing! I listened sympathetically and said that I hoped it worked out for her, but I never said what the Spirit knew she needed to hear: “It’s not too late.” I had convinced myself that it was my own wisdom talking and that it was not my place to comment on her divorce. And so I didn’t.
And this is one instance where I learned from my own mistake. I always felt bad about that, because I knew that I was supposed to say it. And so I did all that I could do: I prayed that God would nudge another person to tell her what I failed to say, someone who was bold enough and wise enough to obey. It is so important to learn to inquire of God and to learn to heed the Spirit’s nudges. This is how God gets His Will done on earth. By us and our obedience!