Are You Struggling to Make a Decision? 6 Tips to Discern God's Will

When I was 18 years old, the weight of the life decisions I had to make almost broke me. Where should I go to college? What career should I choose? Who should I date (and subsequently) marry? Where should I live? 

I suspect you’ve experienced similar anxiety. What if we make the wrong choice? 

I wish I had read Genesis 24 as a high school senior. I could have learned from Eliezer, the servant of Abraham, and avoided a host of sleepless nights. 

Abraham was living in Canaan, the land God had promised to give him and his descendants. At this point he only had two sons and one plot of land – the burial site of his beloved wife, Sarah. 

But Abraham believed God was going to raise up from him a nation of people to follow the Lord. So when the time came for Isaac, Abraham’s sole heir, to take a wife, Abraham knew he couldn’t marry a pagan Canaanite. He had to marry kin. (It was okay in those days. The gene pool hadn’t yet become corrupted.) 

So he dispatched his trusted servant, Eliezer, on a mission – find a wife for Isaac from among my family in Mesopotamia. This was huge, and Eliezer knew it. Abraham had just entrusted him with the continuance of his line (and the future nation of Israel). 

But Eliezer had grown up in Abraham’s home, and he had watched his master make wise (and not-so-wise) decisions in his hundred years of walking with God. He knew what to do. 

From his example, we can draw six principles for decision making. 

1. Follow the revealed will of your master. 
Abraham was very specific: Do not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, but go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac (Gen 24:3). When we face similarly-significant life decisions, we don’t always have such specific instructions from God, but we do have the general wisdom of the Bible. It’s a no brainer, then, that we should never violate any of God’s biblical principles or commands. 

2. Pray and invite God into the search. 
Eliezer asked for God’s favor and direction: "O LORD, God of my master Abraham, give me success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham.” This point seems simplistic, but it’s the one we most often forget. We consult friends and advisors, but we fail to ask the wisest of all Counselors to bless and guide our decision. 

3. Pray specifically. 
Eliezer didn’t ask for “some pretty girl to cross his path” that he could bring home to Isaac. Instead, he looked up, saw the young women of the city coming to draw water from the well, and asked God for specific direction. “May it be that when I say to a girl, 'Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,' and she says, 'Drink, and I'll water your camels too' – let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master" (v. 14). 

 And what do you know? “Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milcah, who was the wife of Abraham's brother Nahor” (v. 15). 

Notice he didn’t pray outlandishly: “God, please make a spotlight appear over her head and a host of angels surround her with rainbows and unicorns to show me she’s the one.” Instead, he simply prayed for God to reveal his will through timing and circumstances. 

4. Worship God when he answers your prayer. 
When Eliezer realized God had answered his prayer and Rebekah was the one, he bowed in holy awe. "Praise be to the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned his kindness and faithfulness to my master. As for me, the LORD has led me on the journey to the house of my master's relatives” (v. 26-27). 

5. Tell others how God has guided you. 
Sharing faith stories with others strengthens their faith and helps them trust God, too. When Eliezer described the details of his quest to Rebekah and her family and how specifically God had answered his prayers, they couldn’t doubt that the circumstances were from God. They surrendered eagerly and wholeheartedly to God’s will. 

 "Laban and Bethuel answered, 'This is from the LORD; we can say nothing to you one way or the other. Here is Rebekah; take her and go, and let her become the wife of your master's son, as the LORD has directed'” (v. 50-51). 

 6. Watch how God uses your obedience in far-reaching ways. 
Eliezer’s assignment was to find a wife for his master’s son, Isaac. We know that Isaac married Rebekah, who gave birth to twins, Jacob and Esau. Jacob had twelve sons. Their descendants became the twelve tribes of Israel. Through the tribe of Judah came a young virgin named Mary came. She gave birth to a tiny baby named Jesus, the Messiah, who brought salvation to every tribe, tongue, and people in the world. 

“Through you, God told Abraham, all peoples on earth will be blessed.” And blessed indeed are we. 

My fretful, tormented time of decision making as a young adult ultimately led me to see how much I needed God’s wisdom to guide me. I surrendered my life to his control and have never looked back. 

Each year I learn more about what it means to trust and obey him. I hope, as I share my flawed and sometimes fragile faith, others will be inspired to trust him, too. Like Abraham, I want others to be blessed because of what God has done and continues to do in me. 

How about you? Are you struggling with a decision and unsure what path to take? Why not follow Eliezer’s example? I’m confident that as you obey what God has already told you, pray specifically, worship God, and tell others about your experience, the same God who answered Eliezer’s cry for help will also answers yours. I can’t wait to see what he’s going to do.

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  1. Hi Lori, great encouragement here today for me. We are tussling with a huge decision and your advice is spot-on!
    God bless

  2. Isn't it amazing, Tracy, how God always seems to know just what we need, just when we need it? I'm humbled you've found my simple words helpful. Stopping right now to ask the Lord to give you and your family supernatural insight and guidance. Blessings to you!

  3. Huge decisions in front of me - work related and housing related. Trusting God is essential since financially, neither can happen without Him.


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