Seems like life can be full of decisions, from little daily decisions to big life-changing ones. How do you make yours?
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Well good morning. Welcome to Faith Moments. My name is Odalis. I’m part of the pastoral team at CornerstoneSF and I’m glad you’re here. I love having this time together to just spend a few minutes considering what the Lord might have to say to us, something He might already be saying, something He might be inviting us into. Our faith is a daily thing. I am glad that we get to spend this day together. So whether you’re tuning here at the premiere this Thursday morning or you’re watching later on, welcome.
Today I wanted to spend some time talking about decisions. We all make decisions every day, right? Pretty much each day is full of decisions, little ones. We go through seasons of larger ones but this week I was thinking about how God invites us to look to Him as we make our decisions. To involve Him in the process and I believe He longs to be a part of our decision-making process. He wants to direct our steps.
So I’d love to just pray real quick to welcome Him in and then we’ll dive in. Father, we thank you for this day. We thank you for this ability to connect, to think about you through the internet Lord, and for your presence with us always. Holy Spirit, we invite you in, we ask for you to soften our hearts to be receptive to what you’re saying. We just commit this time to you and ask for your blessing over it. We pray these things, Jesus, in your name. Amen.
It seems like right now there are so many decisions happening all over the place. On top of all of the normal day-to-day ones we make. I don’t want to minimize the day-to-day ones either. Even this decision right now to be watching and engaging in this time together. Most of our lives are made up of those normal, everyday little decisions. We’re invited to be good stewards and to integrate our faith into all of those decisions. To make good decisions all across the board.
Right now with COVID having totally changed what our normal is. Changing into something that we’re still discovering with things improving. I think there is still a little sense of unease or question or just a lack of clarity about what the future is going to look like. I think a lot of people right now, I know people in my circles, are looking at their lives and considering decisions that will really impact their futures. There is an opportunity in it right now for sure. Something exciting about it. Taking this unique season to take specific steps forward that maybe we’ve always wanted to take. Or in the case of a community, really investing in and deciding how we’re going to walk through intentionally.
Thinking about each of our lives, what about your life? Are you in a season of decision, or change right now? I think there’s something fundamentally different about seeking change in the Lord. There’s something powerful about receiving His direction in these seasons and following it. It affects not only how we move through those decisions but how we even think about them down the line when things inevitably get challenging again. How we consider where we’re at and how we got there. It’s different when the Lord has been a part of the process and has been guiding it.
The first time I made a significant decision during my faith journey was smack in the middle of college. I had finished my lower division at city college and I was trying to decide what to do next. I didn’t really want to keep doing the college thing. I knew I should but I also had a bunch of other opportunities. Did I want to just move to a different city to finish college? I’m from San Francisco, born and raised, so it has always been sort of my world. Did I want to move and experience living somewhere else? Did I want to just travel, did I want to just dive into work? I even had an opportunity to move abroad to teach English. I was just sitting with this time of decision, opportunity, and change. I had a crossroads moment, really, where there were reasons to go and reasons to stay. I wanted to make the right choice. Being that I was discovering faith, there was something different about it than past decisions where I thought, “Oh, what does God want me to do and how do I find out what He wants me to do?” It was all new to me.
As I was going through the process, I was really just at that point leaning towards moving away to teach. I started taking the steps towards it. But things changed and there was a new opportunity. In addition to everything else that was presented to me, there was an opportunity to take on a larger role here. To stay here and invest in something that I loved here. Then I was just full-on torn. I was totally torn. They were both good things I could do either way. I wasn’t sure what the Lord wanted me to do. I wasn’t sure how to hear His voice or to receive that direction from Him.
I did what I had heard you were supposed to do when you’re in those times and I sought counsel. I asked people who knew me, people who loved me, people who I trusted. They were pretty much all people who were further along than me in life and in faith. I got their opinions. They knew that what was most important was discerning God’s voice in that space. I got their opinions and one person taught me this practice of laying a fleece. If you’ve never heard this, it comes from the story of Gideon from the Older Testament, the Book of Judges. At that time God was asking Gideon something just totally outside of what he had expected. It was a huge deal, lots of implications, big responsibility, all of that. Gideon was unsure. Gideon just needed some confirmation. He wasn’t really confident at that moment. We’ll just read that section where he does this whole laying a fleece thing. It’s from Judges 6. We pick up at Verse 36, “Then Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have said, behold, I am laying a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece alone and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will save Israel by my hand as you have said.”
It was so. When Gideon rose early the next morning and squeezed out the fleece, he wrung out enough dew from the fleece to fill a bowl of water. So basically Gideon says, “Okay God if this is actually what you’re asking, help me to know that it’s you. I’m putting out this fleece, this wool, outside. Let the ground around it be dry and the fleece is soaking up all of the dew from the night.” In the morning it was soaked, he wrung out a whole bowl of water. That’s what he asked.
He keeps going. “Then Gideon said to God, “Let not your anger burn against me. Let me speak just one more. I am so sorry for asking again, Lord. Let me just ask one more time, please let me test just once more with the fleece. Please let it be dry on the fleece only and on all of the ground let there be dew.” God did so that night. It was dry on the fleece only and on all of the ground there was dew.”
Okay, so now I think that it’s important we don’t read too far into this. You’ll notice that this is Gideon’s idea and not God’s invitation to him. It describes what Gideon did in order to get that clarity he was looking for at that time and you even see he says he walks cautiously. He’s saying, “Please God, don’t be mad at me that I’m asking again, that I’m presuming sort of on you to ask and test.” We always want to be careful about testing God.
It just describes something Gideon did when the Lord was asking something huge of him. As a description, it’s different from the times the scriptures teach us a principle applicable in every circumstance. For example, Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and don’t lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.” Trust in God, lean on His understanding, and He will show you the way. That we’re invited to do.
For example, James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God who gives generously to all without reproach and it will be given to him.” Ask God if you don’t know. Ask Him for wisdom and He will give it to you. These are prescriptive. They are invitations. They are principles to apply in every circumstance. All that being said, God specifically responded to Gideon and answered his prayer, both by making the fleece soaking wet and then making the fleece totally dry. When I was learning this, I was taught that in these big moments of life, when you need God’s direction, not as a casual thing but a reverent and humble request to do this. Not to make assumptions. Be truly open to the Lord how He responds and willing to obey. It’s not laying out a fleece and saying, “Okay God, show me that I can do this thing that I want to do.” It’s more, “God, show me your way. Invite me into your way and help me to see you confirming this.”
I didn’t lay a literal fleece outside just in case for clarity. I didn’t put out a cloth or a towel and say, “Okay God, make sure the towel is soaked.” No, not literally. I had one final person that I was going to seek counsel from. With the woman who taught me about laying a fleece we prayed and asked God in the same way that Gideon laid out a fleece, “We lay before you this conversation. God, this is our approach. This is how we’re going to go about it. We’re just asking for your final clarity here at this moment, in that final conversation.” That conversation served as a fleece in that sense.
I was committed. I was committed to obeying the Lord. I really was torn either way. I wanted to do both if I could be in both places. But I was committed. I stuck to how the Lord responded in that final conversation. I did think it was going to go differently than it ended up going. But because I had committed, I had asked God to obey, though the two options ahead of me were good, I sincerely wanted to choose what the Lord wanted me to do. That was where my heart genuinely was. When our hearts are in those places and our decisions, when we can genuinely be at that place, even if we’re torn, when we still want, “God, your will be done in my life,” we will find Him responding, helping us, and giving us that clarity. Maybe we’re a little disappointed with the one we had to say no to, with the direction that we did not go.
Now years later, learning to practice this, I have been able to see how God has worked through that vital, pivotal decision point in my life. How do you make your decisions? I ask this gently and not as a point of, “Oh, look how good I am at making decisions.” I’m really not. In every major decision point in my life from then through now, I have had to relearn this. To learn this in new ways. Get deep into my heart and figure out what it is that makes me want to just do my own way. Or that just causes me to freeze up and want to avoid this decision altogether. It’s a journey, it’s a journey, it’s a process. Learning new facets of the Lord, listening to His voice more carefully. What it means truly to lean not on my understanding but on His. Not to look to my own wisdom but to ask Him for His in faith and receive it.
When you’re in your place of decision, where are you getting your advice from? What kind of advice are you getting? Is it from people who share your faith? Who share those values, who share that commitment to choose God’s way, God’s understanding, God’s wisdom over our own. In that sense, which way are you seeking? When you’re listening for the path ahead, is it your own voice you are listening to? Or are you getting quiet and still before God, patiently asking and listening for His response? If you haven’t learned how to do that, are we practicing that now for those seasons of inevitable transition?
Last, when we’re in these places, are we truly willing to go His way over our own? Are we truly willing, if He says the way that we’re not really leaning toward but we asked, are we willing to go His way? It might mean being patient through a really long season. It might mean a really big change. It might mean pursuing something that though it gives us joy it intimidates us. Though it gives us joy it comes at a cost. Are we willing, hearts open to obey?
I want to invite us to dig in. To be like Gideon and reverently, humbly, ask and ask. Not just to get God’s opinion, not to try to say, “Oh God, okay, I heard you, but really, I’m asking again to try to get a different answer.” But asking in humility, in love, and with a willingness to obey. To trust and believe that He responds, that He’s good, and that His way is better than our own.
This is a journey that we walk through to seek. As we’re in these seasons of transition, I want to just pray for us right now, for God to direct our steps. For us to be attentive to His voice, for the spirit to fill us and help us to hear Him. So as you’re in your place of decision, let’s just jump into this time of prayer together, open, and ask Him to be with us and guide us. All right, let’s pray.
Father, we thank you for this time we’ve had. We thank you for stories like Gideon’s that show us that you are not closed off to our questions. God, you want us to dig in, ask, and pursue you Lord in all of our decisions. Lord, we ask for your guidance in these points of decision. I pray especially for those who are in the middle of or considering life-altering decisions. We ask for your spirit to guide us. Lord, for those who are in more day-to-day decisions, give us the joy of seeing you at work, discovering how we’re leaning on you, and not our own understanding. Holy Spirit, move in our lives and help us to get quiet enough before you that we would hear you. You’re not loud, Lord. You invite us to come soft so that we can listen to that still small voice away from the noise. Help us to hold onto you, to recognize you, to trust you in all of these places. Jesus when we hear you, help us to obey. That is where we find our truest freedom and our truest joy. We love you, Jesus. We pray for your will to be done in our lives and we pray these things in your good and beautiful name. Amen.
God bless you, thank you for joining today. May His joy be over you. May He guide you and give you strength in these times of transition and change. God bless you. We’ll see you next time.