If we get right down to it, knowing a good thing from a bad thing is elementary, and the Christian walk is easily summarized in Micah 6:8, where all we must remember is “to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.”
Why then do we trip over ourselves when opportunity comes our way, wondering if it is from God?
It is good to consider and to seek godly council when a door opens. But you probably know that’s not what I mean. I mean the running around in our minds, our thoughts in circles, reciting “what ifs” and “but thens” until we’ve reasoned ourself in and out of agreement with the possibilities ten times over. It would be so much easier if a neon sign dropped down from heaven, flashing “Go here” with a handy directional arrow to save me the act of choosing. (Ya feel me?) So if something is good, and it could help people, how are we supposed to know how to move forward without a literal sign from heaven?
Remember, friends, that Satan is a clever deceiver. He knows better than to tempt the children of God who seek to walk with Him with outright rebellion. Recall his interactions with Christ in the wilderness? He tempted Christ with “good” things: to eat bread when he was hungry and to display His godhood, all things that are inherently not sin. But they would have been sinful to Christ, because it was against God’s plan.
So how do we know?
After reading Fervent by Priscilla Shirer (the book inspired by the movie War Room), I had taken to the task of studying my weakness that the Enemy likes to exploit and curating targeted prayers against his attacks.
Only a few months later, I had the opportunity to utilize these battle planning tactics in order to help me better understand whether an opportunity was just a good thing or a God thing.
While there is certainly no “one size fits all” version of how God will direct His children’s paths, we can always count on Scripture to give us the principles we need to make righteous, eternally effective decisions. Remember, some things are good and lawful, but not expedient (1 Cor. 6:12). Dictionary.com defines “expedient” as “tending to promote some proposed or desired object; fit or suitable for the purpose; proper under the circumstances.”
In other words, good things aren’t always good for you.
I don’t know about you, but that takes a huge weight off my shoulders! Have you ever heard the phrase, “You might be the only bible someone may ever read.” A thought provoking concept, and it’s intent is good to be sure, but what an erroneous thought, that we could be as effective as the Living Word Itself in showing needy human hearts the condition of their soul and their relationship to the Creator! Or maybe you’ve heard it said, “If you can do it, you should?” Well friends, that’s not biblical. And yet, as for myself and many other Christian women, this tends to be the standard by which we fill our agenda.
Nursery ministry? Good. Visitation? Good. Cooking for our families? Good. Volunteering as a chaperone for youth night? Good. Writing that devotional for the ladies’ Sunday school? Good. Good, good, good.
And so on and so on. We fill our agenda up seeking to do good with this pseudo sense of responsibility and validation.
Good things aren’t always good for you.
As kindly as I can say it (and I do mean it to be a relief to you, friend!), God doesn’t need you. He doesn’t need me and he doesn’t need the church. He said the rocks would declare him if we didn’t! (Luke 19:40) It is a privelege and blessing that God will allow us to be a part of His kingdom building. I mean, think about it! We sinful yet redeemed, imperfect yet pardoned creations get to witness the miraculous each time God lets us be a part of his work. Remember, His burden is light! It should be a joy to do the work we do. Nothing will turn people away from the Truth faster than a sour Christian. (I mean, we all know someone who is suffering for the Lord and wears it on their grimaced face like some sort of badge. They mask complaining with a veil of false spirituality, and it sucks the life right out of you!)
It cannot be explained. That’s the beauty of God’s work. It is light. It is a cross. There will be suffering mingled with joy. But my favorite part is this: you only have to do what He asks of you! Listen again: what GOD asks of you. Not the church. Not religion. Not your own internalized expectations of what “good Christians” should do.
So here is the tactic I came up with for use in my own life. I encourage you to read Fervent before coming up with your own plan of attack, and feel free to print off this plan if it resonates with your spirit. Edit it, make it your own, etc. The Scripture and prayer are key, so don’t skip!
Battle Plan for Opportunity
I. Get alone (Edwards, Religious Affections; Ps. 63; Matt. 4:1; Matt. 14:23; Mark 1:35)
II. Make room for God
(Ps. 46:10) Be still! Don’t spend your time apart doing all the talking. Invite God into this time with you.
III. Get specific – PRAYORITIZE!
Tell God the opportunity that has come your way. Tell Him everything! What you are excited for, concerned about . . . God wants to hear it all!
IV. Cross-reference your calling
You already have responsibilities. Does this enhance or improve your current priorities? If there is a conflict, are any of your current obligations not a true priority?
1. God (Ps. 37:4) Am I delighting in God?
2. Spouse – am I displaying God to my . . .
What is your spiritual gift(s)? Does this align with that?
V. Confess sins
Why do I want this opportunity? Who am I aiming to glorify? Are there any sins in my life that would prevent me from hearing God?
IV. Consult desires
What do I really want? (Ps. 37:4)
Remember, fear does not equal doubt. Fear is a tool of the Enemy! Doubt is simply a yellow light. Slow down, get all the facts, and yield to the Holy Spirit.
That is what I have taped up in my prayer closet to remind me how to proceed when opportunity comes my way. I hope that you find it helpful.
For further study and learning to listen to God better, these three books have made a huge impact in my life.
Fervent by Priscilla Shirer
By teaching you the ways that our Enemy seeks to weaken us, Priscilla leads you through soul and Scripture searching exercises to help you craft a plan of attack for each scenario before you encounter it. We are in a spiritual war. She helps me get serious!
The Journey of Desire by John Eldredge
In The Journey of Desire, John walks you through ways that God uses our desires to point us to Him – and the path He wants for us. With personal, discipleship like advice, John opens his heart and soul and gets straight the heart of desire.
The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst
If you’ve ever felt “thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread,”¹ it’s time to learn what sort of “yeses” belong in your life. This book was instrumental to me in learning to use my time to make the biggest difference without feeling overwhelmed.
I honestly highly recommend all of these books. They are full of invaluable information all sourced from Scripture. When I pick up these books, they all feel like I’m getting to sit down with a wise friend and learn over a cup of coffee. Have you read them? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Tell me how you choose between good and best in the comments below.
Until next time,
¹ . J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
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