How to Make a Difficult Decision (Part 1)

Our family has been praying about and wrestling with a big decision for the past year and a half. Our prayers almost always focus on clarity. We want to know for sure what we should do, which way we should go. Yet, after nearly 18 months of praying, it seems the waters are more muddied than ever before.

Sure, we have had moments of clarity. But as soon as we start pursuing that direction, a seemingly more enticing option pops into view, causing confusion. This scenario repeats itself over and over again, week after week (“Squirrel!”), leaving us even more directionless than we were at the outset.

The late Brennan Manning wrote a brilliant book called “Ruthless Trust.” In it, he tells the story of John Kavanaugh who went to work for three months at “the House of the Dying” in Calcutta, India. He went not only to give help, but to receive it. He was seeking a clear answer as how best to spend the rest of his life.

The first morning there, he met Mother Teresa. She asked, “And what can I do for you?”

Kavanaugh asked her to pray for him.

“What do you want me to pray for?” she asked.

He voiced a request he had long been burdened about and had come half a world seeking the answer for: “Pray that I have clarity.”

To that simple but sincere request she said firmly, “No, I will not do that.”

When he asked her why, she said, “Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of.”

When Kavanaugh commented that she always seemed to have the clarity he longed for, she laughed. “I have never had clarity, what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God.”

Trust is a critical component of any relationship, whether it’s boyfriend-girlfriend, husband-wife, parent-child, friend-friend, doctor-patient, employer-employee, leader-follower, pastor-congregation, or human-God. Yet, it’s something many people struggle with for a variety of reasons.

Trusting someone means that you think they are reliable, consistent, and true. You have confidence in them, and you feel safe with them. You cannot demand or prove trust; trusting someone is a choice that you make.

The first Bible passage I memorized as a kid is about the role of trust in decision-making.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Perhaps the reason we lack clarity, are confused, frustrated, or disillusioned is because we don’t trust God.

I mean, yeah, we trust Him, but only so far.


It’s that “all your heart” thing that’s so difficult.

It’s easy to trust that…

God is good… until something bad happens.

God wants what’s best for me… until I don’t get what I think is best for me.

God knows better than I do… until I can’t figure out why the flip God would allow such an obviously painful thing to happen to me. 

God’s timing is perfect… until I’m waiting… and waiting… and waiting… 

Many years ago, the traveling evangelist, Monroe Parker, was traveling through South Alabama on a hot summer day. He stopped at a watermelon stand, picked out a watermelon, and asked the proprietor how much it cost.

“It’s $1.10,” he replied.

Parker dug into his pocket, found only a one dollar bill and said, “All I have is a dollar.”

“That’s ok,” the seller said, “I’ll trust you for it.”

“Well, that’s very nice of you,” Parker responded, and picking up the watermelon, started to leave.

“Hey, where are you going?” the man behind the counter demanded.

“I’m going outside to eat my watermelon.” “But you forgot to give me the dollar!”

“You said you would trust me for it,” Parker called back.

“Yeah, but I meant I would trust you for the dime!”

“Sir,” Parker replied, “You did not trust me at all. You were just going to take a ten-cent gamble on my integrity!”

How much is that like how we trust God? We’ll happily trust Him with a piece of our heart, but we struggle to trust Him with our whole heart.

I’ll trust you with my relationships… but don’t touch my sexuality.

I’ll give you this $1… but this $100 is mine.

I’ll trust you with my marriage… unless it gets too difficult.

I’ll trust you with my kids… unless they do stupid things I don’t approve of. 

I’ll trust you for the outcome… unless I don’t like it. 

Even though God is completely trustworthy we struggle to trust Him completely.

To “trust in the Lord with all your heart” means that you are undivided in your devotion.

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. (James 1:5-8)

To trust God with “all your heart” means to trust Him unwaveringly.

When the storms rise up…

When the results aren’t what you expected…

When “better” options appear…

When nothing seems clear…

Principle #1 of difficult decision-making:

Put your undivided, unwavering, wholehearted TRUST in God.

Next up: Principle #2

5 thoughts on “How to Make a Difficult Decision (Part 1)

  1. Great thoughts Jeff. We’ve been praying through similar things for our family.

    I thought I’d let you know that we are moving back to MN in August. We’ve had a tough, but good growth time in Florida.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s