By: Beth Doohan
“The Lord says, ‘I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.’” ~Psalm 32:8-9
“I send it (my Word) out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.” ~Isaiah 55:11
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In our last article, we shared how we can know what God’s best is when making a decision. This involves seeking Him through His Word and prayer, asking Him to speak to you with a surrendered heart, then taking steps with God’s peace toward a specific decision. We can ask God about anything, and He will answer! God wants to help us navigate big and little decisions, which then requires us to walk out the direction He gives to us.
However, what do we do about areas that we have discerned we are called to, such as a vocation, being married or becoming a mother? How do we take steps toward something whose timing is out of our control? We may think it would be nice to have everything we want when we want it. But our loving Heavenly Father knows what is best for us and has the perfect timing in mind. If you have discerned a specific calling from the Lord, maybe through a strong desire or still small voice speaking to your heart, then lean on Him to fulfill it. Use the time you have now to prepare for the plan He has called you to.
Another step in waiting for God’s best is to intentionally seek His wisdom. Ask the Lord about how to ready yourself and for details about what His calling will look like. Stan and Ginger Gabriel wrote a single-women Bible study to encourage and prepare women for their future mate. They write, “God may call you to marriage someday. Meanwhile ask God to give you joy and contentment in Him. Ask Him what dreams He wants you to dream. And pray for this unknown man’s life, growth and problems. Gini Andrews in ‘Your Half of the Apple’ suggests this prayer: ‘That he will grow into the kind of man God wants him to be; a man in the truest biblical sense of the word—one whom I can trust as head of the home we will share’” (Being a Woman of God).
Another thing to remember: sometimes following the Lord’s leading may not make us feel happy, but it will allow us to experience His best. Elisabeth Elliot shared in Let Me Be a Woman, “Saying ‘Yes’ to happiness (God’s best!) often means saying ‘No’ to yourself.” We are not saved by Christ to enjoy life exactly as we want it, nor is He our Lord simply to fulfill our heart’s desires. We are to be His children AND His servants, worshipping in spirit and in truth, wholeheartedly on-mission for the purpose He has called us to fulfill. To take up our crosses and follow Jesus.
When I was a young high schooler, I heard a message by Sarah Wehrli, daughter of Pastors Billy Joe and Sharon Daugherty. She was a young wife and mother of one at the time, and the Lord had put on her heart a special message to share at a women’s breakfast. Her topic? Waiting for God’s best. Specifically with the desire for a husband. Sarah shared from her own journey how she and a young man felt attraction, both loved the Lord and wanted to start dating. Sounds great, right? Except that God had laid on Sarah’s heart not to date during her first year in college.
Now stop right here. How did Sarah know God didn’t want her to date yet? Because she had intentionally sought His wisdom and was actively talking with Him through prayer and Spirit-led Bible reading. She was practicing godly discernment about a desire in her heart to marry, one whose timing was not in her control. Through intentional surrender, God had given Sarah a direction, a calling requiring obedience in order for her to wholeheartedly follow Him and experience His best.
Back to our story, Sarah felt conviction about what God had spoken to her heart, but at the same time felt fearful. What if I lose him? What if I ask him to wait and he moves on to someone else? So, against what God had laid on her heart, she started dating him. Sarah continued her story to explain the heartache she felt when two weeks before getting married, both she and this man she had been dating felt an unsettling in their hearts and ultimately called off their wedding.
Now you might be thinking, What was the big deal? If they had kept themselves pure and decided to date and then marry, why did God say no? Because, through intentional surrender to God, Sarah knew that it was not God’s best, the timing was off, God had not called her to be dating yet. There was more He wanted to do in and through her, as well as in and through that young man. They had been rushing God, seeking their own desires rather than yielding their desires to Him.
Faced with that decision, Sarah could have continued to ignore God’s best and married that man. They may have had a life together that was not God’s best, but was good. Any time we ignore God’s best for us and choose something else, even if it seems “good,” we will miss out. In Genesis 15, God promised Abraham the most wonderful plan, that God would give him a son who would produce the most wonderful nation, God’s nation. Can you imagine how this must have thrilled Abraham’s heart? Yet, he struggled to trust God’s timing and to wait for God’s best. So instead of allowing God to be the one to fulfill his heart’s desires, Abraham slept with his slave woman Hagar. She bore him a son Ishmael who was not the one God wanted to use to create His people. I am positive Abraham loved Ishmael, but God had told Abraham specifically that Sarah would bear Abraham’s special child. Because Abraham said yes to something that was not God’s perfect plan, Hagar and Ishmael became a thorn in their lives, causing them and their descendants conflict and pain. When we follow our ways rather than God’s, we will experience happiness with heartache instead of the pure joy of His best.
Back to our story with Sarah Wehrli, after she and her fiancé ended their engagement, Sarah of course went through a grieving process. But in her grief, she drew close to the Lord, asking Him for forgiveness in going her own way. She still desired a husband, but surrendered that desire to His lordship and timing. She even told God she was willing to remain single in order to follow Him all her days. Through that heart of trust, God was able to renew Sarah and fulfill the plan He had all along. In His perfect timing, after she had waited for His best, God brought her husband Caleb into her life. He was a fulfillment of desires she had had for years, shared many of the same dreams and callings in her heart, and was a man of God like none other she had met. God ultimately revealed to them both that they were to marry, and because they had listened to their Lord, they experienced God’s best in marriage.
Ladies, that is the heart of our wonderful Father. He wants us to experience the richness of a life under His blessing. He wants to spare us from the heartache of “good” things that He did not plan for us, like Abraham with Hagar and Ishmael. It starts with discernment, and surrendering our desires to His timing. Matthew 19:10 promises, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” When we wait for God’s timing in wholehearted surrender, we will see Him work and experience His best.
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