We don’t always know exactly what we should do. I mean, right now, as I’m looking at prospective colleges and careers, everything feels extremely overwhelming and ambiguous. Just because we don’t know what to do, though, doesn’t mean we can or should sit still. Being so afraid of potentially making a bad decision that you don’t make a decision at all is not only an impractical way to live; it’s also completely unbiblical.
The Opposite of a Standstill
The concept that we should be lying in wait while God opens a door for us is very inaccurate. Not to say that we have to be guns blazing, running 17 different events at your church during the week; that’s a recipe for disaster.
Recently, I came across a biblical passage I hadn’t heard of or read before. In this passage, while the entire Israelite army is in despair because of brutal Philistine oppression, Jonathan (best friend of David and son of Saul) makes the bold decision to attack the Philistines with just his armor bearer to see if God will honor his courageous action. (Spoiler alert: it works out okay.)
“On each side of the pass that Jonathan intended to cross to reach the Philistine outpost was a cliff; one was called Bozez and the other Seneh… Jonathan said to his young armor bearer, ‘Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men. Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or few.’
The men of the outpost shouted to Jonathan and his armor-bearer, ‘Come up to us and we’ll teach you a lesson.’ So Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, ‘Climb up after me; the Lord has given them into the hand of Israel.’ Jonathan climbed up, using his hands and feet, with his armor bearer right behind him. The Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer followed and killed behind him.” – 1 Samuel 14:4, 6, 12-13 (NIV)
There’s also the story of Esther, facing her husband (the king) without being summoned. That was a brave move that could absolutely lead to death, yet she said this:
“’…When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.’” – Esther 4:16b (NIV)
And there are tons (David and Goliath, Noah, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego…) of other examples of biblical figures making bold decisions for God, even when others doubted their wisdom.
Moving Past the Standstill
How in the world are we supposed to know when to make these bold decisions? And how do we tell the difference between a decision that is completely stupid and one that is courageous and biblical? I’m going to be completely honest with you: when I was first reading the above biblical accounts, I had no clue. If I was Jonathan’s armor bearer in the verses above, I would’ve advised him against such a seemingly suicidal charge. On the same note, Esther could have been risking her life for potentially no result. But what do these two passages have in common? The daring choices made in both situations aligned with God’s known goals and principles.
In both of these scenarios, the Israelites were facing unjust cruelty. While God can use difficult and painful situations for His good, ultimately we know it’s God’s desire to extend mercy and grace to those He loves. And He displayed those attributes most powerfully through the sacrificial work of His Son:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16 (NIV)
Even though Jonathan and Esther weren’t sure what the outcome of their choices would be, God honored their willingness to step out in faith.
Live It Out!
While you might not be charging a Philistine outpost (unless you’re into some funky live action roleplay), there’s always bold choices that need to be made. Luckily, we have the opportunity to model these choices after the only faultless person who has ever walked on earth: Jesus. We can unironically use the classic Christian phrase “WWJD (What would Jesus do)?” as a standard. And through a clear understanding and application of the principles Jesus laid down during His time on this planet, we can feel empowered to make strong decisions, even as we’re unsure what the results will be.