Saturday, June 30, 2012

Following God Is Easy...Kind Of

I don't know about you, but I am a person who likes simplicity.  If you throw a lot of information my way at once, my mind is overwhelmed with the effort to keep it all organized, which makes sense.  I have an analytical mind and whatever I hear is evaluated and connected with other ideas.  Too much all at once means I don't have the time I need to evaluate and connect.  Sometimes, I come to the Bible with this kind of feeling, that there is so much to take in and implement in my life that I get stymied, worried that I can't even figure out what is required of me.

There's so much information in the Bible about what we would should and shouldn't do.  Now, I am the first person that will tell you that the Bible is not a rule book--it's about how to have a relationship with God.  That relationship is what leads to righteous living.  It is precisely because I have a relationship with God that I desire to know how to live a life pleasing to him.  We are blessed that God doesn't let us wallow around trying to figure out what pleases him.  He gives us all the instruction we need.  But with all the instruction in the Bible, I sometimes feel overwhelmed, worrying that I can't do it all or I'm missing something.

Recently, I read a verse I hadn't read in a while.  When I read it, my heart calmed and my mind stilled, for in this verse was simplicity.  It's actually easy to know how I can please God.  The answer is found in Micah 6:8: "He has told you, O man, what is good ; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"  Micah has said it so clearly.  What does God require of me?  1) Do Justice  2) Love Kindness  3) Walk Humbly With Your God.  It's that simple...well, kind of.

Turns out, what God asks of us is simple to state and simple to remember.  If I am doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with God, I am living a life pleasing to him.  These three simple descriptions bring the clarity I need to direct my life in a godly way.  It may be simple to state, but I don't think it's always easy to follow.  What does it mean to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly?

Walk Humbly With Your God
So, yeah, I'm starting out of order.  The reason is that, in scripture, it is clear that walking humbly with God comes before doing justice and loving kindness (there is a reason for the order Micah used which I'll explain later).  There is another place in scripture that also states what God requires of  his people:

"Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the Lord’s commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good?" (Deut.10:12-13)

These verses give a perfect description of what it means to walk humbly with God.  Walking humbly begins by fearing God, by recognizing his sovereign control.  Recognizing his right to rule puts me in a position of humility, knowing that God is God and I am not.  Since he alone knows what is best, he alone has sovereign knowledge, I trust his will and give my love to him.  I serve him with all my heart and soul.

To love God is to walk in his ways, i.e. to obey him.  I display my love for God by doing what he instructs.  Deuteronomy 11:1 says, "You shall therefore love the Lord your God, and always keep His charge, His statutes, His ordinances, and His commandments."  Why is love tied to obedience?  Let me use an analogy.  A father gives his life to his child, training his child to be a person of moral character.  The child leaves the father and denies all that he has been taught, living and reveling in evil.  In this act, does the child show love to the father?  No.  The child is showing selfishness, pride and arrogance, declaring the father's authority void and his commands worthless.  But if the child listens and applies what his father has taught him and recognizes his father's authority, the child is in a relationship of love and trust and humility.  This is the same with God.  In obeying God's commands, our love for him is revealed.

Now, some may wonder if any of this truly applies to Christians today.  After all, the verses above are addressed to Israel, not us.  And Christians aren't under the law, so loving God isn't equated with following commands, right?  But yes.  Two verses from Jesus make this clear:

"And He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment" (Matt. 22:37-38).

"If you love Me, you will keep My commandments" (John 14:15).

Jesus himself tells us that the greatest commandment is to love God with all we are.  Jesus is God.  In loving Jesus, we love God.  How do we reveal this love?  Jesus makes it clear in John 14:15: our love is revealed in our keeping his commands.  Once again, to love is to obey.

To summarize, to walk humbly with God is to recognize his sovereign rule, to trust his sovereign knowledge, to love and serve him by obeying his commands.  Then, what are his commands?  Are we back to a whole list of confusing rules?  Not entirely.

Do Justice
I started with walking humbly with our God because this is the foundation for the other two requirements in Micah: to do justice and love kindness.  After loving God, all the other commands God gives relate to other people and all those commands fall under these two headings: to do justice and love kindness.  How we treat others directly reveals the state of our relationship with God, if we are loving him or not.  Remember what Jesus added right after he said loving God was the greatest commandment? "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Matt. 22:39).

Part of loving others is doing justice towards them.  The reason Micah lists doing justice and loving kindness first in his list is that the context of this verse is the sin Israel had committed that God was judging.  God's number one indictment against Israel was its lack of being just.  Justice in Hebrew is mishpatMishpat means fair judgment.  The Israelite courts of the time acted primarily in the interests of its leaders.  They were corrupt, unfair courts.

If we are to do justice, we treat others fairly.  God most often mentions orphans, widows, foreigners and the poor as those who need justice.  In other words, we are to treat everyone, from the leaders to the least with fairness.  We can do this today in grand ways as we lend our support to third world countries, go on mission trips, sponsor poor children, etc.  But we can also do this in simple ways at home, treating our spouses, children and friends with fairness, not gossiping about them and being honest with them.

Love Kindness
The Hebrew term for kindness is chesed.  This term is actually translated in various ways in different Bible versions because it holds a deeper meaning than English can grasp.  Chesed incorporates kindness, loyalty and mercy all rolled into one.  It is often translated as lovingkindness, a term most used to express God's love for man.

People display chesed when they treat others kindly and gently, as they put aside anger and selfishness and seek the good of another.  People display chesed when they are loyal, preserving the honor of others.  People display chesed when they act in mercy, not holding offense against someone who has hurt them.

The commands in the Ten Commandments that involve people are all expressions of chesed: honoring our father and mother, not murdering, not committing adultery, not stealing, not lying against others, not wanting what others have.  The majority of the commands in the Bible involve treating others with chesed.

In doing justice and loving kindness, we obey God's commands, showing we love him.  Why does God command these?  Because this is who he is.  What God asks us to be is a reflection of him.  Just as a child reflects a father, so we should reflect God.  "Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; lovingkindness and truth go before You" (Ps. 89:14).  God's character is just and kind.  God commands us to be as he is.

To evaluate my life is simple.  I only need to ask three questions of myself.  Am I doing justice to others?  Am I loving kindness?  Am I walking humbly with my God?  All other issues can take a backseat to these three.  We worry so much about exactly what God wants us to do when he's already given us the answer.  His will is found in his Word.  It doesn't matter if your role in life is as a housewife or an employee.  It doesn't matter if you stay home or go overseas.  It doesn't matter if you are a garbage collector or a CEO.  The issue is how I live--walking humbly, doing justice and loving kindness.  That is what God requires of those who choose to follow him.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Amen--Part 2

A couple posts ago, I wrote about what the term "amen" really means.  If you have the time, I recommend going back and reading that post before this one.  I'll go ahead and summarize here.  Amen literally means "faithful, true."  God is called "The God of Amen" (Is. 65:16) and Jesus is called "the Amen, the faithful and true witness" (Rev. 3:14), revealing both God and Jesus (who is God) as sources of truth.  In prayer, we say amen and what we supposedly mean when we say amen is that "you believe that God's character is trustworthy...that you are confident He will hear your prayer, be faithful and true to do what He promised, and fulfill His purposes in your life" (Mary Kassian).  When we say "In Jesus' name, Amen" we are saying that God's faithfulness and truth are fulfilled through Christ in our lives.

I took the stance in the last post that the above facts mean that amen is not just the ending to a prayer or a simple "so be it," as I had always been told growing up.  The meaning is far deeper.  It calls into question what we pray before we say amen.  Do we really speak prayers that can end in amen?

I decided to go back to the Bible and look up every instance of amen.  What I found was exciting, stirring and gives me a direction to head in my prayer life.  Here's what I found: 

In the Old Testament, amen is used as a response that affirms what was previously said.  In other words, what was said before is truth.  Amen is spoken in one of two instances: 1) It follows a truth statement.  An example of this is 1 Chronicles 16:36, which says, "Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, From everlasting even to everlasting. Then all the people said, 'Amen,' and praised the LORD."  The truth statement is that God will be blessed from everlasting to everlasting.  2) It confirms that God will carry out what he has said he will do.  A clear example is in Jeremiah 28:6: "[A]nd the prophet Jeremiah said, "'Amen ! May the LORD do so; may the LORD confirm your words which you have prophesied to bring back the vessels of the LORD'S house and all the exiles, from Babylon to this place.'"  There is also a series of "amens" used in Deuteronomy 27, where the Israelites confirm all the curses God will carry out if the people break his word.  Interestingly, and of importance later, is the fact that all amens in Psalms follow the phrase “bless the Lord," the same as in 1 Chronicles 16:36.

I thought what was in the Old Testament was interesting.  What was in the New Testament floored me.  There are 29 occurrences of "amen" in the New Testament, not counting when Jesus says "verily, verily" in the gospels before he utters a truth statement or the Revelation 3:14 verse stated previously (I didn't include his statements because I wanted to focus on how "amen" is used by people).  Here is the break down of when the term "amen" is used:

21 times: The overwhelming majority of the amens in the New Testament follow statements that say "blessed/glory/dominion be to God/Jesus forever and ever."  As stated above, amen means faithful/true.  The majority of the statements in the New Testament are similar to the usage in Psalms.  The term affirms the truth that God is the one to blessed forever, God is the one who has glory forever, God is the one that has dominion forever.

5 times: Amen follows five statements in the New Testament where the author says "God/Jesus be with you all."  Four times, Paul is writing and one time, John is writing in Revelation.  In these instances, the author is affirming the truth that God is with us, a truth that Jesus himself has proclaimed in Matthew 28:20.  (On a separate, but related note, I did a word study recently on when God tells people not to fear; the majority of reasons not to fear are because "God is with you.")

3 times: The last three instances of amen are found in Revelation.  Two of them affirm the truth of Jesus' second coming (Rev. 1:7, 22:20) and the other affirms God’s judgment at the end of time (Rev. 19:4).  Once again, these are statements that are meant to declare truth, the truth that God's future plan is true.

The application question then is, "How should amen be used in our own prayers?"  Every use of the term amen is tied to the truth of the statement proceedingEvery use of the term refers to a truth involving God's character or his actions.  In our prayers, amen should follow truth statements.  The shocking, life-changing truth here, then, is amen doesn't follow such statements as "God, please heal granny."  "Please heal granny" is not a truth statement; it is a request.  We definitely should present our requests to God (Phil 4:6).  But requests are not truth statements, so amen does not apply to them.  Our amen is the affirmation that God is God, that God has the power, that God is with us.  Those are statements of truth.

Somehow we have come to treat "In Jesus' name, Amen" in one of two ways: as a meaningless ending of prayer phrase or as some kind of "in" with God, that by saying amen, God somehow is obligated to answer.  So then we get confused when God doesn't do what we have requested in our prayers.

In my previous post on amen I wrote this "Prayer is fundamentally about shaping my will to God's will.  Prayer is a way to remind myself of God's truth and faithfulness.  I pray, not to get what I want, but to call God's truth to mind and to declare to God that I know what is true about him, that I know he will be faithful to me."  Prayer shapes God's way into my life.  Prayer draws me intimately to God, reminding me that he is powerful and in control, that his will will be carried out.  My amen is an affirmation of this truth.  So I pray, "God, I ask for healing for granny," but I end with "you have the glory forever, your will will be done on this earth, amen."  In fact, I think we should even pray deeper for granny.  Instead of "please heal granny" it would be much more meaningful to pray "show granny that you are in control and that granny can trust you no matter what happens," because those are truths about God's character and can be followed by hearty amens.

Finally, it is instructive what follows Paul's admonition that we present our requests to God.  He writes this, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to GodAnd the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  Paul does not say, "Present your requests to God and you will get everything you want."  No, he says, "Take your worries to God, remember to thank him, and he will bring you peace."  Ah!  This is an amen!  This is a truth!  God is the God of peace and God doesn't want us to worry.  We pray to God, not to get what we want, but so that we shape our will to God's, that our worries dissolve into the truth that God is the giver of peace.

Wow and wow.  I am humbled and amazed.  My prayer life has been weak; I have used it as a vessel for request after request.  My amens have been following statements that lack truth.  Could it be that my trust of God withers as I focus on my own selfish desires in prayer and not on truths about his character?  Could my prayer life be transformed if I prayed carefully, not haphazardly, to make my amen a true amen?  Yes!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Good and True Shepherd (No Breaking Legs Here!)

I seem to have fallen into a series of posts at this point about misunderstandings in the church that have often come about through tradition.  Sometimes you can't even tell where the tradition got started (remember my friend Tevye).  A few years ago, I researched an analogy I have heard often in the church.  Before I get to the analogy, I'd like to start with the subject: a shepherd.

God is often described in the Bible as a shepherd.  I did a word study on shepherd to discover what the Bible says regarding God as a shepherd.  Here's a compilation:

The Shepherd led Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Gen 48:15).
The Shepherd shepherds Israel (Gen 49:24).
The Shepherd provides for the needs of his people (Ps 23:1).
The Shepherd carries his people (Ps. 28:9).
The Shepherd leads his people (Ps. 80:1).
The Shepherd gently tends his people, gathering them and carrying them (Is.40:11).
The Shepherd gathers his people to him (Jer. 31:10).
The Shepherd gathers, delivers, feeds, seeks, heals, strengthens and protects his people (Ez. 34:11-31).
The Shepherd rules his people (Mic. 7:14).

Shepherd imagery, when it is used in the Bible of God, refers to God as a protector, guide and healer.  The image is of a tender, gentle shepherd gathering his sheep into his arms.  This is also clear in the New Testament.  In John 10:11, Jesus declared, "I am the good shepherd."  What is Jesus' relationship with his sheep?

Jesus feels compassion on lost sheep (Matt. 9:36, Mk. 6:34).
Jesus lays down his life for his sheep (John 10:11).
Jesus knows his sheep (John 10:14).
Jesus guards the souls of his sheep (1 Pet. 5:2).
Jesus rewards his sheep (1 Pet. 5:4).
Jesus guides his sheep to eternal life (Rev. 7:17).

Once again, the imagery is gentle, a shepherd guarding, guiding, tending and ultimately giving his own life for the sheep.  The shepherd imagery of the Bible applied to God, to Jesus, is positive and loving.

So what is the analogy then that I take issue with?  For years I have heard this analogy: "Shepherds break the legs of willful sheep and then carry them around on their shoulders so that the sheep learns to submit to his will.  This is what God does to us at times to get us to submit to his will."  My problem?  This analogy is no where in the Bible.  No where does it say that God as Shepherd breaks the legs of his sheep.  In my research, I actually found a shepherd's own website that refutes this myth: Sheep 101.  I also found other shepherds that found the analogy ridiculous.  Anyone who says a shepherd would break a sheep's legs, they said, has never had to take care of an injured animal.  A sheep could die from such an action and it would be a shepherd purposefully maiming his own product.  It just plain doesn't make sense.

I did find where this story may have originated from.  A book written by a man named Robert Boyd Munger in 1955 mentions the story.  Then it was placed in a book of sermon illustrations in 1979.  Of course, that means it has found its way into many books of sermon illustrations since then.  This means the story gets used over and over by pastors and repeated by parishioners.  The problem is that shepherds themselves deny this story.  Someone along the way somewhere told this story and in fact, it is myth.

When I did my study on the term shepherd in the Bible, I did find analogies of shepherds treating their sheep wrongly--and they were all human.  God uses the term shepherd at times to describe leaders of people and when they mistreat the sheep he calls down judgment.  He does this to Israel's destructive leaders (Ezk. 34:2), Edom (Jer. 49:19) and false prophets (Zech. 13:7).  God declares of bad shepherds, "Woe to the worthless shepherd who leaves the flock ! A sword will be on his arm and on his right eye! His arm will be totally withered and his right eye will be blind" (Zech. 11:17).

God is not like the bad shepherds.  In fact, God promises a shepherd that will come and be a true shepherd: "Then I will set over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherdAnd I, the LORD, will be their God, and My servant David will be prince among them; I the LORD have spoken" (Ezk. 34:23-24).  This descendent of David, this one that will rule as a Good Shepherd is Jesus Christ.  Thus Jesus declared rightly, "I am the Good Shepherd!"  He is the shepherd who gently tends and heals, protects and guides, dies and lives to redeem the sheep.  Our Shepherd is the Good and True Shepherd.

Friday, June 15, 2012

What Am I Saying When I Say Amen?

Since Christianity has been around awhile, it has developed many traditions: for example, praying at every meal, passing around an offering plate and singing hymns.  None of these are wrong; tradition is not bad.  But it is interesting that we sometimes find ourselves following tradition when we don't even know what the tradition is about.  It reminds me of my friend Tevye from the musical Fiddler on the Roof.  In the song called "Tradition" he says this,

"Here in Anatevka we have traditions for everything... how to eat, how to sleep, even, how to wear clothes. For instance, we always keep our heads covered and always wear a little prayer shawl... This shows our constant devotion to God. You may ask, how did this tradition start? I'll tell you - I don't know. But it's a tradition... Because of our traditions, everyone knows who he is and what God expects him to do."

Tevye at least understands that keeping his head covered and wearing a prayer shawl is supposed to reflect his constant devotion to God.  However, he doesn't know where this tradition came from; he simply follows it because it is "tradition."  In Christianity, we have several phrases/terms that we speak that are tradition for us.  Two of them I find enlightening because Christians sing them all the time but few know what they mean: Hosanna and Hallelujah. Hosanna means "Save" referring to God's salvation.  Hallelujah means "praise the Lord."  But the term I am going to address in this blog is "amen."  We say amen after almost all our prayers and we sometimes say it aloud in church when we like something we hear.  But do we know what amen means?  I joked with my husband one day that amen essentially means "I'm done praying; it's your turn next" :-D

When I was young, someone explained to me that amen meant "so be it."  In other words, that after I pray I am affirming that what I prayed I want to happen: So be what I have prayed.  That made sense and I never thought about it farther than that. For this summer, I've been doing a Bible study called Knowing God By Name.  The name I read about today was "faithful and true," in Hebrew, emet elohim emet.  I learned that emet is a term that is a derivative from the term aman, the term from which amen originates.  Amen literally means "faithful, true."

I was intrigued and awed to learn that both God and Jesus are personally tied to this term.  Isaiah 65:16 calls God "the God of Amen" often translated "the God of Truth" in our English translations.  Jesus is called "the Amen, the faithful and true witness" in Revelation 3:14.  Jesus also used amen himself.  In the gospels, we often read Jesus starting a statement with the phrase "truly, truly, I say to you..." or "verily, verily, I say to you."  The phrase is literally, "amen, amen, I say to you..."  In using the term amen, Jesus was letting his listeners know that he was speaking truth to them. I conclude from these verses that God is truth, Jesus is truth and Jesus and God speak truth.

So what exactly does amen mean when we say it?  I love that the Bible has answered this question directly for us.  Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:20, "For all the promises of God find their Yes in him (Jesus). That is why it is through him (Jesus) that we utter our Amen to God for his glory."  We speak amen to God through Jesus ("in Jesus' name, amen") because all God's promises are answered in Jesus.  God's faithfulness, his amen, his truth is answered in Christ.  Mary Kassian explains it this way: "Your 'Amen' affirms that you believe that God's character is trustworthy...that you are confident He will hear your prayer, be faithful and true to do what He promised, and fulfill His purposes in your life."  In saying "in Jesus' name, amen," you are acknowledging that through Jesus God has shown himself to be trustworthy and He will faithfully fulfill his promises through Christ in your life.

What do I take away from this?  That I ought to be careful what I pray for.  That I need to realize that in saying "In Jesus' name, Amen," I am saying something quite serious.  It isn't just a flippant, traditional phrase.  It is a phrase rich with real meaning.  If I am affirming that God is true and faithful to carry out his promises, what have I just prayed?  Have I prayed in line with this truth?  It is interesting to me that when Jesus answered the disciples' desire to be taught to pray, he responded with what we now call "The Lord's Prayer."  Do you realize that in that prayer all that is prayed is true statements about God and what he will do for us?  His name is to be hallowed, his will is to be done, he will provide for us, he will forgive us and help us to forgive others, and he will deliver us from evil.  All of these we can utter a hearty "Amen!" to.  There is nothing in this prayer about giving me the material things I want or pleading with God to make things happen or not happen that I desire to go or not go my way.  This prayer is about praying in God's will and with God's will.  When I pray this way, in God's will, then I can say "amen."

Prayer is fundamentally about shaping my will to God's will.  Prayer is a way to remind myself of God's truth and faithfulness.  I pray, not to get what I want, but to call God's truth to mind and to declare to God that I know what is true about him, that I know he will be faithful to me.  Thus, the word amen makes complete sense.  In saying amen, I declare to God, "Yes!  True is what I have prayed!  Faithful you remain!  I trust you completely my God every step of my life!"

The question to consider then is this: Is your amen truly amen?  Can what you pray really be followed with amen?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

How Do I Know the Will of God?

The above question is one that, as a teacher, I hear often.  Students who love the Lord dearly struggle to identify the will of God for their lives.  I, too, have struggled in this area at times.  What is ironic is that the answer to this question is quite simple.

I divide God's will into two different categories: God's moral will and God's directive will.  God's moral will concerns moral choices we make in life.  Crucial issues that might fall into this category are: Should I divorce?  Should I get an abortion?  Should I carry out this affair?  Should I assert my dominance in my family? Should I steal property at work? and so on.  God's moral will is, happily for us, clear.  The Bible speaks to all moral issues.  I was listening to the radio yesterday and a woman was talking about the time she considered divorce.  Instead of just listening to peers or popular TV shows, she went to the Word of God and researched and studied and prayed over every verse that dealt with divorce.  If you have a moral question, go to God's Word.  You will find your answer there.  I will warn you that sometimes you might not like the answer and it is likely you will need to commit to obedience to God no matter what you discover.

However, when I am asked the question, "How do I know the will of God for my life?", a person is rarely asking about God's moral will.  God's moral will is usually so obvious to us that we can answer moral questions quite easily.  What a person is asking me about is God's directive will, that is, which direction does God want me to take in life?  What college should I go to?  What job should I take?  What mission should I go on? etc.  Some Christians spend inordinate amounts of time worrying over these types of questions.  They are worried that if they make the wrong choice, they will have messed up God's plan.  So let me deal with that worry first: dear Christian, you cannot mess up God's plans!  "I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted" (Job 42:2).  You cannot mess up God's plan.  God will carry out his plan whatever choice you make.  You can rest in this truth and banish worry from your mind.

So how do I make choices?  God promises a gift to us, a gift given if we ask for it: "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you" (James 1:5).  God gives us wisdom.  When you want to know what to do with your life, pray for wisdom, then act wisely.  Wisdom is not just intelligence; it is practical knowledge applied to life.  In wisdom, you consider the options before you.  Evaluate them.  Don't be afraid to use your head.  Using your head is not anti-God.  God gave you your brain and wisdom.  He wants you to make decisions, to think through choices.  (I will add that it is not wrong to go to other wise believers and ask their advice.  Godly advisers can help you think through your options, help you consider God's truth within them.  Use the spiritual body God has surrounded you with!)

Once you have considered your options, choose the one you think you should choose.  Remember that this is not God's moral will we are discussing.  We are not talking about evaluating a sinful choice.  Sin should always be discarded immediately.  We are talking about God's directive will.  When I graduated from college, I signed up with an organization to teach in China.  For a long time, I struggled with the thought, "What if God really doesn't want me in China?  What if my choice is outside his will?"  I thought this because even though the doors had opened widely, I worried that by walking through them I might not have done what God wanted because I never received a direct voice saying, "Yes, do this."  So I asked my Dad, "What if I'm not supposed to go to China?"  I'll never forget his answer.  He asked, "Will God use you in China?"  I answered, "Yes," and he said, "Then go."  His point was clear.  God will use you wherever you go.  Why hem and haw and worry?  Do you think God is incapable of using you wherever you go?

Oswald Chambers points out that God "guides our common sense" as we seek his will.  This is what wisdom does--wisdom "guides our common sense."  We evaluate, we consider, we use our mind given to us by God, and then we make a decision.  We need not worry over that decision.  Why?  Chambers also says that if we choose what God does not want, "He will check, and we must heed."  If God does not want you going a certain direction, he will close the door: You think you should go to a certain college, then your finances for it fall apart.  You sign up for a mission trip, but it is cancelled at the last moment.  You apply for a job that is everything you dreamed of, and the boss chooses someone else.  God will direct us to closed doors as well as open ones; it is our job to not grouse over the closed door, but to accept it as God's will.

Have you prayed for wisdom?  Have you acted in wisdom?  Has a door been opened?  Then walk through, dear Christian.  God will close the door when he wants you to move a different direction.  You do not have to worry.  Oswald Chambers also says this, "At first we want the consciousness of being guided by God, then as we go on we live so much in the consciousness of God that we do not need to ask what His will is, because the thought of choosing any other will never occur to us.  If we are saved and sanctified God guides us by our ordinary choices."  Every moment you submit to the Holy Spirit, God guides you.  If you are submitted, make a choice, don't worry and leave the results to God.