I have struggled with blogging recently after it was pointed out to me (by multiple people) that my blog had become a discouragement to others.  I hated that thought, particularly when I regularly prayed that God would use my blog to help and encourage others.  My blog also tended to be an online journal, though, so at times, I wrote about what was on my mind–be that good or bad.  I find that my “bloggy” friends are often a source of information and/or encouragement to me in return. 

For the last month or two, S and I have been seriously struggling with a major life decision regarding growing our family in the future.  It has been a difficult decision, as we have sought God’s will in the matter.  There were many times I sat down, tempted to blog about portions of it, but feared it would come out too discouraging.  Thus, I would not.  Now, we seem to be getting close to a decision, so I feel like I can blog more. 

I have learned many things through this process the last couple months–about myself, about God, and about His will for our lives.  While I don’t feel ready to divulge the actual issue we have been struggling with, I can offer that it is just a big decision that could affect our future in a myriad of ways.  Furthermore, it’s one of those decisions where we felt we had reached a T-intersection on the “path of life,” and had to decide to “turn” right or left.  Although it doesn’t matter to us which way we turn, both could have drastic results in different ways.  We just wanted to turn the CORRECT way.  I realized that what I have learned through our decision process could potentially help others with big decisions of all sorts.  So, I want to share. 

We are big believers in the Proverbs, and its recommendation to “seek Godly counsel” when trying to make a decision.  For some time now, we have been doing just that.  I learned several things through that process.  First, I learned that, for some issues, seeking advice from different people can offer different perspectives–which can be  a good thing.  However, trying to find Christians that can offer truly Biblical, Godly, and completely unbiased advice, can be VERY difficult.  Naturally, we tend to put more value on the latter type, when it can be found.  I also discovered how even wonderful, Bible-based Christians can differ in their interpretations of the scripture.  While this can be good in the sense of offering different perspectives and thoughts to consider, it can also make the decision process very difficult. 

One of the people we sought advice from offered me some very good information.  I half-jokingly asked, “Oh, why can’t God just tell me what to do, and make the process sooooo much easier?”  She replied (in paraphrase), “Because then you would have no reason to SEEK Him, which is what He desires.  If He just provided the answer, then we would have no reason to dig into His word, to pray unceasingly as the Bible commands, and to actually GROW in our knowledge of the scriptures and God’s will.  When we are desperate for the answer, though, we do just that.  We pray, we read, we tear scripture apart, we mature spiritually, and become better people and witnesses for Him.”  I have dwelled on that advice quite a bit!  What a wonderful answer!!  After that, everytime I found myself frustrated about not knowing which direction to go, I would remember her advice.  I would pull out my Bible and read, and pray a heartfelt request for guidance. 

As I traveled this journey, I was shocked to discover how easy it had been to take my faith off of God, and put it on something else.  It had happened in several areas of my life, and it had been so easy and subconscious I hadn’t even realized it.  When my eyes were opened to this fact, I was further dismayed to discover how diffiult it was to remove my faith from the worldly things and put it back on God.  Much like Abraham had to prove that he was willing to even sacrifice his own son to prove his faith to himself, I suspect part of this decision process has been a simple matter of me being forced to consider how drastic a step I was willing to take in order to ensure my faith was where it belonged.  I was surprised how difficult that was.  Yet, when I committed to go where God led me, no matter how frightening or drastic, I found such sweet relief!  I knew my faith was back on God, where it belonged.

When it came to my prayers, I was forced to carefully consider the promise in scripture “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.” (John 14:13).  Does this passage mean He will do ANYTHING we ask?  No.  The key to this promise is the part “in my name.”  I did a Kay Arthur study on prayer a while back, and she emphasized this principle.  God does not just grant every request.  Sometimes, He will grant selfish requests due to His unceasing love for us, but He desires for us to only make requests that are in accordance with His will.  Unless we are getting into the scriptures, and seeking out His desires for our lives, then it is difficult to truly ask him “in His name.”  The more we know Christ, know about Him, and know about His ultimate plan for us as believers, the more likely we are to only desire and pray for His will for us.  I have found this to be such a simple, yet still so complex idea.   Think about it for a minute.  So very much is involved here. 

One of the people we counseled with was our pastor and his wife.  He gave me another thought to consider.  I always had this idea that there was a relatively narrow “path” that God had designed for us to travel down.  On this path, there are other paths to branch off.  Some are narrow, some are wide.  Some return to the main path further up, some do not.  I had always thought that every decision we made would determine whether we stayed on the main path, or veered off along the way.  Sometimes we make mistakes and choose to take a branch, but if we later seek God’s will, then He can ultimately lead us back to the original path further down the way.  Are you still with me here?  This pastor we counseled with, though, went even further.  He used some Bibilical evidence to show that sometimes, there isn’t necessarily a “right” or “wrong” decision.  In addition to the roads that branch off the main path, there are times that the main “path” just gets a bit wider, and we can veer slightly to the right or left without leaving God’s will for us.  That was a concept I had never considered.

We still have things to consider, and we still haven’t reached a final decision.  However, by studying the Bible, learning more about God’s desires and plans for His children, and praying, we have managed to rule out a lot of the options involved for us.  We have re-evaluated where our faith lies, and now know it is in the right place.  At this point, we are simply standing on the path, praying for some guidance or peace that will help us in this endeavor.  Whether it is a wider part of the path we are on, or an area where there is a branch off, we have yet to discern.  So, we wait, until our eyes are more open and the path is a bit clearer. 

I once heard a beautiful word-picture.  Like the owner prunes his vineyard to produce great and bountiful fruits, so we can allow God to prune us.  It can be painful, discouraging, frightening, and lengthy, but in the end, we can learn so much about ourselves, what we are capable of, and where we have our faith.  And if we allow Him freedom in His pruning, God can do amazing things to develop our character, our testimony, our witness, and our very beings.  He is capable of blessing us in ways we can never imagine.