When I don’t know what to choose: “Lord, give me neon blinking lights…”

Simple Prayers That Change Your Life Series post 4 of 8

got_wisdom_fbcmmOne of my favorite verses is James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

I lack wisdom… a lot.  Which college?  Which job?  Which place to live?  Which car to buy?  Which school for my kid?  Which sport or activity for my kid?  Which foods are best?  The list goes on.

That’s why I love James 1:5 so much.  It promises that whenever we lack wisdom (which we all do), we can ask God and He will give us the wisdom, no strings attached.  It doesn’t matter if we’ve been especially spiritual lately or not, God will give “generously to all without finding fault.”

And yet, so often we ask God for guidance, but the choice still seems unclear.  Why?

The answer is in the very next verse: “But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” (James 1:6-8)

So when we ask God for guidance, and then the way forward still seems unclear, the problem isn’t that God hasn’t answered.  God has answered, generously giving the wisdom we need.  The problem is we doubt His answer.

We’re double-minded.  We say we want God’s help and wisdom, but when God’s answer doesn’t align with our personal preference, we dismiss it.  We doubt that we heard from God at all.  We doubt that His wisdom applies to our circumstance.

Humans have been doubting God’s wisdom ever since Adam & Eve.  “Did God really say not to eat the fruit?”  After all, the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil looked very good.  It was “good for food and pleasing to the eye, and desirable for gaining wisdom.”  So Adam & Eve doubted God’s guidance to not eat the fruit.  And that’s what we still do.  We love God’s wisdom when it aligns with our desires.  But when God’s wisdom restricts us from something we desire…well, suddenly we’re not so sure God said that after all.  “Did God really say…?”

So how do we overcome this sin?  The sin of doubting God’s Word?  Of doubting God’s wisdom?  Of doubting whether or not God really said that?  And how do we learn to recognize the good wisdom He gives us?

I have 3 basic steps:

  1. Surrender my will.
  2. Humble myself, admitting to God how dumb & blind I am.
  3. Ask for super obvious neon-blinking signs.

My prayer goes like this: “God, I know your plan for my life is the best plan.  I know it is the good & perfect plan for my life.  So I surrender my will and my desires to You right now.  I want what You want.  But I’m dumb, God.  I’m blind & I so easily miss your leading.  So if you just give me neon blinking signs, I’ll do whatever you want.  But you gotta make it obvious for me.”

And you know what?  He answers.  Every time.  Every time with ridiculously obvious signs.  I’ve never had to doubt if I went to the right college, took the right job, moved to the right place, married the right guy, switched my career at the right time, or anything else.  At least not when I’ve prayed this prayer.  Because God has always made the correct choice ridiculously clear.

For example, my senior year of high school I was deciding between going to a Christian college to study ministry or going to a public college to study journalism.  I was invited to compete for scholarships at both schools.  This was a huge decision, and I didn’t want to get it wrong.  So I asked God for neon blinking signs.  I told God I’d go to whatever college He wanted & study whatever major He wanted, if He just made it really clear.  I also asked that He’d give me a sense of peace when I visited the right college.

I visited the public college first.  The day was a comedy of errors: wardrobe mistakes, bathroom mishaps, stumbling, getting lost, misspeaking…I pretty much did everything wrong except pee my pants!  At a scholarship competition, I was definitely impressing no one.  At one point, I was so embarrassed that I secretly prayed, “God, just let the ground open up & swallow me right now!”  By the end of my visit, I never wanted to step foot on that campus again.  God definitely did not give me a sense of peace.

My visit to the Christian college went perfectly and I won the highest scholarship.  God had delivered my neon blinking sign.  And He’s been faithful to keep giving me neon blinking signs ever since.  Thankfully, the signs haven’t always included publicly humiliating myself!  But the signs have often included doors being slammed shut – including doors to opportunities or relationships that I truly desired.

Just like Adam & Eve, I am so easily attracted to things that are harmful for me.  And just like Adam & Eve, God’s wisdom so often seems unreasonable.   Why?  Because God’s plan for us is miraculously good.  By definition, miracles are illogical.  So the path to God’s miraculously good plan is often paved by decisions that defy my human logic.  That’s why I ask for neon blinking signs.  I know my own tendency to doubt God’s wisdom, but I truly want to believe Him.  So I surrender my desires to God, humbly admit my need for His wisdom, and then promise to follow if He makes the path REALLY OBVIOUS.  And just like He promised, God always gives wisdom generously and guides me to what is best.

In what situations are you most likely to doubt God’s wisdom? Romantic decisions? Family relationship decisions?  Work decisions?  Financial decisions?  Time management decisions?  Priority decisions? It’s generally the situations you like most to control.

 In what area of your life do you most need God’s miraculous goodness?  Are you ready to surrender your personal preference and trust God’s wisdom?  Are you ready to follow His neon blinking signs?