The following email arrived a few days ago. I have changed the city names for the sake of privacy, but the overall question has not been changed.
Dear Mr. Pritchard,
Right now I am trying to figure out God’s plan for my life. Recently I was asked to move to Miami for work, and after much prayer I still don’t know where He wants me. There are many arrows pointing toward going, but I feel no peace whatsoever about leaving Atlanta. Do you have any advice on how to distinguish whether I’m just nervous about the move, or if God is perhaps really telling me to stay?
Here is my answer:
Thanks for your note and for your question. I think the answer goes something like this: There is no way to be certain in advance about Miami vs. Atlanta. Sometimes we want something God never promised. We want certainty in advance about how our decisions will work out. Proverbs 3:5-6 reminds us to “lean not on our own understanding” but to trust completely in the Lord. I take that to mean that you should use your mind, research your options, look at the circumstances, seek godly counsel, consider the pros and cons, pray over it, think about it, discuss it with friends, and ask God for wisdom. But having done that, don’t make the mistake of thinking you can figure out your own future. No one can do that.
At some point you simply have to decide.
No one can do that for you.
One thing you shouldn’t do is wait for a voice or a vision or an overwhelming feeling. Even waiting for “peace” can be misleading. Your feelings matter, and so do subjective impressions, but don’t make the mistake of equating your feelings or “impressions” with the word of the Lord. Sometimes when we wait for a feeling or an impression, what we’re really doing is hoping someone else will make the decision for us. Eventually you just have to decide and get on with life.
Years ago I heard a wise man say that when facing a big decision, you should ask yourself, “What difference this make in 10,000 years?” That’s helpful. What difference will it make in 10,000 years whether you lived in Miami or Atlanta?” Answer: none at all. That doesn’t mean your decision doesn’t matter, but what matters far more is your heart attitude toward the Lord. If you truly want to serve him, you can do that equally well in Miami or Atlanta. And if you want to disobey, you can do that in either place as well.
My only other suggestion is to set some sort of time limit for wrestling with this. Set a date certain when you will decide. Then make your choice and go with it. Will it work out? Who knows? Maybe so, maybe not. Remember, you have the whole world in front of you. If the city you choose doesn’t work out, try Paris or Singapore or Rock Springs, WY or Yorkshire in England or South Africa. If your heart is open to God, you can go literally anywhere and serve him. I urge you to seek that sort of openness, then make your choice, go with it, and see what happens next. If it is true that “He will direct your path,” then you can trust God to take care of you wherever you happen to be.
I hope this helps a little bit.