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5 Things to Consider When You’re At the Crossroads

Are you at the crossroads? Does it feel like your entire future depends on the decisions you are about to make?

Perhaps it’s what school to attend, what subjects to study. Maybe it’s what job to take, or whether to leave a current job. Perhaps you are thinking about dating, or even marriage. What are the consequences of these decisions? How do we know what best to decide?

As you stand at the crossroads, looking forward to unknown futures, here are five things to consider:

 

1. What does the Bible say?

The Bible is given to us by God. It is the Word of God, and is sufficient in equipping us for whatever situations we might face (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

There are some situations the Bible speaks directly about. Adultery, for example, is clearly prohibited (Matthew 5:27-28). So is playing favorites (James 2:8-9). We’re also given guidance that can be applied broadly to nearly every decision we make. Be willing to forgive (Matthew 18:21-22). Love one another (1 Peter 4:8). Live your life in Christ, rooted and built up in Him (Colossians 2:6-7).

Does the Bible have clear teachings applicable to your current situation? If so, prayerfully follow the clear directions God has given us. If not, here are a few more things to consider. . .

 

2. Have you checked your motives?

As we deal with the uncertainties of the future, we must also carefully check our motives. We need to dig deep, and figure out what emotions are at play.

Are we leaning toward a certain decision because of fear? Are we going after something because we feel the need to keep up with our peers? Or are we trying to get back at someone because of something they did?

The Bible reminds us, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23). Let us pray and ask for God’s help and forgiveness as we confront any unhealthy, or even sinful motivations.

Whatever decision we ultimately make, let it come from clarity of mind, and purity of motive.

 

3. Are you praying about this?

Pray continually,” Paul reminds us (1 Thessalonians 5:17). How much more so when we face an unknown decision?

We can pray for a pure heart as we make decisions (Psalm 51:10).

We can pray for wisdom that God grants generously (James 1:5).

We can pray for the Holy Spirit to guide us (John 14:26).

We can pray for courage to make a hard decision (Hebrews 13:6).

We can pray for peace amidst the unknowns (John 14:27).

We can also pray about the specifics of our decisions. After all, God knows all of our unknowns. And when we pray, we are reminded that God is with us. He will give us what we need to make the decision.

 

4. Have you sought godly counsel?

Christians were never meant to walk alone. We are “no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household” (Ephesians 2:19).

We can certainly find brothers and sisters who walk with the Lord and have the insight and experience that we lack. Let us take advantage of that and seek out mature Christians we trust (Proverbs 12:15). They may be able to offer advice or perspective we have not yet considered. And more importantly, they can join us in prayer. “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20).

 

5. Do you trust God’s foresight?

Finally, let us be reminded that while we don’t know how things will turn out, God does. Though we may make the best decision possible under the circumstances, we cannot foresee all the potential implications of it.

And that’s okay. God knows our shortsightedness. He knows our limitations. And He’s accounted for them. Whatever we end up deciding, whichever path we end up taking. . . God already knows. He will walk with us every step of the way, and He will work things out in His own time (Proverbs 3:5-6).

God Met Me In the Midst Of My Anxieties

Written By Calvin Woo, Malaysia

What should I do after graduating? What job should I look for? Should I start something of my own? Should I pursue a higher level of education? Is this the right time for a relationship?

These are normal questions that all of us have asked at some point in our lives. But for reasons unknown to me, these questions troubled me so badly that they affected my mental, physical, and emotional well-being.

I was at the crossroads and trying to make a life decision. I was so worried and anxious about my future that my heart was overcome with a wave of unrest. I felt helpless that I could not control all aspects of my life, and began to question myself and my abilities.

I was so overwhelmed that I couldn’t eat well or sleep well at night, since I was constantly trying to find answers to my questions. I consulted my friends and family members for answers and validation, hoping to give my heart some rest and assurance. But my questions continued to come and go like the tide, crippling my productivity and my life as I lost focus of myself, my loved ones, and God. I tried really hard to resist and fight the questions—by distracting myself with other things, binge-watching movies and drama series, and going on a beach holiday. I tried to escape my thoughts, but somehow they always crept back in.

One night, I was alone in my room battling my thoughts, and I decided to cry out to the Lord.

“Lord, I’m worn out! Please take me out from this storm. Speak to me and show me Your way.”

Tears rolled down my face as I cried out. I was lost and did not know what to do, but yearned for direction.

 

Be still

A few weeks later I was traveling in California. My heart still burdened, I suddenly felt a prompting to go hiking in a forest of redwood and giant sequoia. My mind quickly drew up the perfect plan to get to the woods early in the morning.

When I walked through the entrance of the forest trail, it was as if I had entered another dimension. The towering redwoods and giant sequoias left me in awe, and I was at a loss for words. The beautiful sunlight cutting through the canopy hit my face. I closed my eyes, listening to the creek flow. And for the first time in months, I took a truly deep breath.

I continued to walk deeper into the belly of the forest and came across a quiet grove with a creek, and the giant sequoia and redwood as a backdrop.

I sat alone by the creek and closed my eyes as I took in the beauty of God’s creation. As I moved away from the noises of my usual surroundings. . .

I heard a whisper, rebuking my heart.

“Quiet! Be Still!” (Mark 4:39)

At that moment, tears from my still-closed eyes started to roll down my cheeks. I felt great peace and deliverance from the bondage of anxiety and worry. The liberation and freedom I felt were beyond words, and could only be expressed with tears of gratefulness and joy.

In the quiet grove, I prayed and thanked God for His great love for me. His purpose in bringing me to this redwood forest was to remind me through His creation of His greatness and power. It felt like I was being embraced by the surrounding trees, and I could feel God’s love flowing in my heart.

I had spent the past few months looking everywhere for answers to my questions, and my efforts only stirred the storm of unrest in my heart. But in that solitude in the forest, I could finally hear God in the midst of the storm.

As I continued walking along the forest trail, I reflected on my wonderful experience, and immediately penned down the moment to serve as a reminder of God’s great love and goodness. As I looked up to the redwood trees, with sunlight cutting between the leaves, I was reminded of God’s almighty hands at work in His creation—and in my life.

 

God is in control of all things

As followers of Christ, we are not guaranteed a problem-free life, but we know that our trials are a process that strengthens our faith in Him (James 1:2-4). Challenges and difficulties in our walk with God will only strengthen our faith and help us learn to lean on Him in times of trouble. Simply put, challenges are sometimes necessary to keep us grounded in Him. And when challenges do come, we know that we have a refuge in God.

When troubles, anxiety, worries, and trials loom over our heads, it is easy to let our emotions and feelings dictate our reaction, but we need to know that we can be still and know that He is our God (Psalms 46:10). For He is the Lord that waves and oceans obey, and whatever may come, He has already overcome it. But we can’t hear His words of comfort if we are rushing or trying to solve our problems on our own—just like I hadn’t been able to for the past few months. It is only when we are still and quiet that we can truly listen to God and hear what He has to say.

I am in no way implying that you should drop everything and go to a redwood forest. But we can all take time and find a quiet place to reverence God and reconnect with Him. Instead of trying to take control of everything in our lives, we need to slow down.

Try dedicating the first 15-20 minutes of the day to reading the Word of God and praying (and yes, put your phones away!). This is a good starting point for reconnecting with God. Slowly, as you try this or other methods, you will find what works for you in making time to be alone with God.

Often, we worry and are anxious when we lack the ability to control our own circumstances. When this storm of anxiety hits, we need to slow down, take a deep breath and pray. We need to humble ourselves and seek God by recommitting our lives to Him and putting Him first in all areas of our lives. God is in control of all things, and He is right there with us every step of the way. When we let God be the captain who steers our lives, we know that whatever direction He takes us in, we will be safe.

When God rebuked my heart in the redwood forest, I learned to let go of the wheel and let God be the captain. This process is not an easy one. But even though I am still waiting for answers on the next steps of my life, I know that God is ever faithful and will lead me on the right path for my life. This knowledge keeps my heart at rest.

Faith, Trust & Hope

Title: Faith, Trust & Hope
Artwork by: Kristen Stansell (@crafted.by)

 

Faith is knowing that God exists and we can follow Him.

“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

Growing up in a Christian environment, I had a lot of knowledge about God. But there came a time when I wanted to seek God out for myself.

Who is He? Does He really love me as He says in His Word?

For a time, I chose to live my life according to my whims and fancies rather than God’s truth. And my life eventually hit rock bottom. In my despair and hopelessness, I cried out to God for help. He met me where I was and has turned my life around since then.

Don’t be afraid to cry out to God and ask Him to reveal Himself to you.

 

Trust is knowing that God is sovereign and His ways are higher than ours.

When we know who Jesus is, we can trust in His Word and His plans for our lives.

Sometimes, we may ask God for the same thing over and over again. We may demand for it immediately, refusing to wait any longer. But God might say:

“Not today. Trust Me. I know things that you don’t. It’s not time for you to have this.”

It is hard for us to comprehend why He withholds certain things from us, especially when others are enjoying those very things we have asked for. At times, we may think that He is punishing us when He says “no” or “not now”.

But as it says in Isaiah 55:8-9:

“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’”

Let’s strive to be faithful and trust Him to order each step of our lives. He knows what’s best for us. 

 

 

Hope is knowing that God is faithful and His promises are true.

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23)

God doesn’t want us to be overwhelmed by our anxieties. When circumstances begin to weigh us down, He wants us to remember that we can always place our hope in Him and His promises.

Let us bring our requests to Him with thanksgiving and praise. As we praise God for who He is and what He has done on the cross, we can trust that His faithfulness will see us through our circumstances and our every need.

 

When God’s Promises Don’t Mean Very Much

I was standing at the precipice of a new season, nervously anticipating the last day of my salaried job and the dreaded world of freelancing that awaited me after. It wasn’t a career move that I’d chosen. But the company wasn’t doing well, so I’d been retrenched.

As I prayed and looked for another job, I encountered something familiar: all the doors to the work that I wanted were firmly closed, but the door to the sort of job I didn’t want—freelancing—was flung wide open.

In the week leading up to that last day, friends coincidentally sent me links to sermons and articles, all related to the same verse, “So do not fear, for I am with you” (Isaiah 41:10). None of them knew each other or knew about my job transition. Receiving the promise “I am with you” in several different forms happened enough times for me to know that God was trying to get through to me.

So, I sat down one evening and said to God, “I’ve got to be honest. I know being told that You are with me is supposed to be something very precious, but it doesn’t give me the comfort that I think I’m supposed to feel.”

I braced myself for what was surely going to be (at the very least) gentle chastising. What a sacrilegious thing to say, after all. But as I waited on God, a surprising question came to my mind:

When have I felt assured simply because of someone’s presence with me?

Thinking back over my experiences, I remembered two people who had a remarkably reassuring effect on me.

Mr. and Mrs. B. were teachers I had in high school when I was in New Zealand. They would often organize hikes in the New Zealand wilderness during the summer weekends. They were absolute experts, and knew all the beautiful and formidable things about the outdoors, as well as how to navigate through them.

There were always any number of things that could go wrong in the bush: the way the unpredictable New Zealand storms could transform the safest looking path into a deathtrap, or how an unusually hot summer could dry up a stream at a campsite and leave you stranded for fresh water. Someone stepped on an innocent-looking tree root once, some 10 minutes after Mr. B. warned the team not to (tree roots are always deceptively slippery). She had to be helicoptered out of the bush because of how terribly she’d sprained her ankle.

Yet, amidst all the potential for chaos, I was never once anxious about how dangerous tramping could be. I was so assured of Mr. and Mrs. B.’s competence that I knew, when the worst happened, they’d manage it perfectly. I was also certain that they cared about their students and would use their expertise if we needed help. There isn’t much point having experts at hand if they’re indifferent to your situation. This combination of what they could do and who they were made their presence indispensable.

It occurred to me to apply this reflection to my current circumstance, so I thought about the sort of expert I’d ideally like to have during this season of freelancing.

My answer rolled right off: someone excellent at finding jobs for me, the ones I like and can do well, the ones that open doors to meaningful projects where I can make a difference. It wouldn’t hurt if they paid well too, of course, the bills and all that. . .

And then, almost immediately, another question dropped in my heart, “Is there anyone more of an expert and more willing than God is to provide all those things for you?”

It felt like such an obvious question, with such an obvious answer. But I was shocked to realize just how ineffectual I’d thought God was. A source of comfort, sure, insofar as one is comforted by having their hand patted and told that everything will be fine. But that’s not what relieves fear, no.

Fears arise from an acute realization that what one has at hand is insufficient to thrive in a situation. I feared freelancing because I wasn’t sure that the irregularity of the work could always keep me financially afloat. The only thing that would dissipate my fear was knowing I had a tangible way through the quagmire, something I clearly didn’t think God was capable of doing!

My fears revealed my insufficiencies of which I was most aware. And they also revealed the aspects of God of which I was most unaware. My inaccurate impression of who God could be made me ascribe His promise with the value and power of a fridge magnet.

After all, whether the words, “Don’t worry, I’ll be with you wherever you go; I won’t ever leave you,” mean anything to us really depends on the person who says it. (Stalkers say these things too, and that’s what restraining orders are for.) In the same way that I valued Mr. and Mrs. B. because I knew what they could do and who they were, I needed to learn who God is before I could cherish His promise.

In the face of my limitations, God promises Himself to me—with all His expertise and His willingness—so that I will have what He has to meet my circumstances. His expertise is in keeping unstable situations stable (Psalm 18:2), in making something come out of nothing (Isaiah 48:21), in knowing how to give us exactly what we need (Matthew 6:8). How He’ll do it, He’ll never say, but that He’ll keep His word is a given.

I realized it’s a little like how it was with Mr. and Mrs. B. I never questioned the routes they took us on, even through some of the most mundane  landscapes or those perilous cliff edge trails on the side of a mountain. They had my complete trust, so whatever paths we were taking became irrelevant. I knew they would always lead us to some of the most spectacular campsites or mountaintop views that New Zealand has to offer. They always led us somewhere good.

When I question God’s instructions, or if I fear the path He’s taking me down, it’s because I’ve lost sight of how much of an expert He is in that area of my life. He knows the ins and outs of the land and all the tricks of the trade and is the most qualified to navigate me through it competently. He’s the very best at healing broken hearts, in building secure inner worlds, in redeeming failures, in sustaining human relationships, in overcoming the impossible. . . an endless list of specialties for a God with infinite capacities.

I don’t know why being a freelancer is so necessary for me just yet, and I don’t know where it’ll lead. But I trust that He has excellent reasons for it. It’s been three months into this new season, and He’s already given me more work than I know what to do with. Expert, indeed.