Feeling Lost? Need Directions? Six Tips for Finding Your Route
(Orlando, Florida) Have you ever wished you could look into the future and obtain better insight in order to make wiser decisions for your best outcome? So many times, results from poor choices could have been avoided if we had seriously considered the direction of God’s guidance for our lives, instead of trying to figure things out on our own. In her book, Direction: Discernment for the Decisions of Your Life, Cheri Cowell presents six questions readers should ask themselves when facing important decisions. Through observation and exploration, she examines each question and shares examples of how others–from Bible times to present day–have used these questions to find God’s way in the story of their lives. From career options to medical decisions to relationship questions, Cowell’s instruction and guidance helps readers learn how to make confident choices as they seek God’s direction on the road of life.
Obviously, the search for God’s will is a topic of interest to many Christians today. What would you say is the most common misconception about seeking God’s direction for ones life?
I encounter this same question every time I speak on this topic. The answer is what I call the Myth of the Path of Relative Ease, which says when we finally find God’s perfect will we’ll be on easy street. Easy Street promises smooth sailing and a peace-filled life. But I’ve learned this is anything but biblical. The Bible tells us we can’t use an ‘easy life’ as a road-sign pointing to His way. In fact, His way promises to be a bumpy road filled with potholes and dangerous cliffs. The exciting thing for us is when we learn to walk in His ways, we’ll have a Companion for the journey who knows the dangerous curves ahead.
In Direction, you write about the process of determining if something is God’s will or not. You say to test it against the character of God. How can we know what the character of God is like?
I don’t presume to know all there is to know about who God is, but when looking for the leading hand of God, it’s important to know how we see that hand. Some see God’s guidance as that of a loving Father showing His child the best way to live so as to protect from harm, others know Him as a Best Friend who shares all that’s needed to make wise decisions. Then there are those who see God as a Guide, almost like a whitewater rafting guide who’s been down this rapid before and can show the way.
When you are personally faced with a big decision to make, what’s the first thing you do?
LOL, I think I’m like most people. I have well-worn paths I retreat to, and some are not healthy. I’m afraid I tend to talk it out with friends instead of first talking to my Best Friend. I’m fear-filled first instead of crawling up in my Father’s heavenly lap and seeking His heart on the matter. And yes, I also rely on the common road signs most of us have relied upon when making big decisions-Bible reading, prayer, open & closed doors, and the sense of peace we’re to have when walking in God’s light. This last list sounds like a good thing, but I’ve learned there’s a good way to do this and a not-so-good way. The not-so-good way is the one that says these road signs are to point me to God’s perfect will. The ‘good way’ is to use these same road signs as a means of drawing closer to the heart of God instead of looking for a hidden will. It is in this position, close to the heart of God, where we are best able to hear from God.
Sometimes we think we only need to go to God about the big decisions in our lives. What evidence do you have from God’s Word that He is interested in every decision?
I call this the Too Big and Too Small God problem. When we make our God so big, He becomes aloof and distant. When we buy into this lie we only go to God when the decision is big enough. Such decisions often find us at God’s door begging for direction such as, “Who am I supposed to marry; should I take this job and move my family; or is it ever okay to take my loved one off life support?” These are indeed big decisions that require a Big God, but if we’re only going to God when a situation is big enough, we’re missing most of life. Most of life is lived in the humdrum of everyday decision-making. It is the ordinary day-in-and-day-out little things like, “‘Do I run this yellow light; do I tell her how I really feel even if it means losing a friend; or do I pick up the phone and call that person I’ve been thinking about all day?” where the little things add up to become big things. Satan tries to tell us these are the small things a Big God should not be bothered with. This is one of his favorite tools. He used these same lies with Jesus during His temptation in the desert, but Jesus knew they were lies. We, too, need to learn to identify Satan’s lying tongue.
You’re continuing your education at Asbury Theological Seminary. What are you hoping to do once you finish your degree?
It is my prayer to write and speak biblical truths more effectively. I am so blessed to have this opportunity to earn a Masters in Theological Studies. As I gain more knowledge, I’ve seen my writing and speaking gain power and conviction.
When a Christian is totally consumed and overwhelmed by the stress of making the right decision, it is tough to put everything in perspective. Are there some practical tips you can share so that he/she can still continue with their everyday life?
Certainly. My first suggestion is to take time to be alone with God. Our God-time is often the first casualty of a stress-filled life, but this is precisely the time when we need Him the most. Next, find some help. The Christian life is not to be a solitary event. Even Jesus went to the Garden with four friends. Share with a handful of committed Christians your struggles, ask for practical help if necessary, and then invite them to lift you up in intercessory prayer. This last step is forming what I call a Clearness Community. Through this Community you will hear God’s voice more clearly than any one of us can discern on our own.
How is Direction an extension of your own personal search for God’s will?
As I answer these questions I’m sitting in Tennessee in a vacation cabin where my husband and I are seeking God’s direction about a potential move here from our home in Florida. My friends have teased, “You know, there’s this really good book you should read…” Their levity allows me to keep things in perspective as we weigh the options, seek the leading of the Holy Spirit, and trust in a God who walks with us no matter what decisions we make.
BONUS MATERIAL Toughest Decisions You’ll Ever Make
* Is he/she the right one for me (to marry)?
Scriptures: Hebrews 13:4, 1 Cor. 7, Gen. 2:18,21-25
* Is this the right job/career-move for me?
Scriptures: 1 Cor. 3:10, Romans 1:8-13
* Do I believe God is who He says He is?
Scriptures: John 12:42; John 6:35; John 8:12; John 10:9; 11; John 11:25; John 14:6
* Which daycare/school/aftercare/babysitter is the best choice for my son/daughter?
Scriptures: Ephesians 6:4, 1 Timothy 3:4, 5:10; Deut. 11:18-19
* Which church do I join? On the flip side, should I leave my church and find another?
Scriptures: 1 Cor. 1:10, Romans 12:5, 1 Cor. 10:17, Romans 16:17
* What treatment options for my/my loved one’s life threatening disease (cancer, leukemia) should I pursue? Which doctor should I choose?
Scriptures: 1 Cor. 12:9, Ex 15:26, Psalms 133:3, 147:3
* Do I/Can I forgive that person? Can I ever forgive myself?
Scriptures: Matthew 5:44, Ephesians 4:32, Matthew 18:21-35, Colossians 3:13
* Do we pursue infertility treatments or accept that children are not a part of God’s plan for us?
Scriptures: Prov. 31:28; Genesis 30:1-3,22; Acts 18:1-3,18,19,26
* How do I/we care for my aging in-laws/parent(s)-home healthcare/nursing home/move them to my/our home?
Scriptures: Proverbs 17:6, Romans 12:10, Eph. 6:1-3
* Should I take my loved one off life-support?
Scriptures: Psalm 116:15-16, 1 Cor. 15:20-22, Rev. 21:1-4
* Should we go into debt for…? Is it okay to file bankruptcy? What if we lose everything?
Scriptures: Proverbs 19:1, Mark 12:42, Romans 3:18, Exodus 22:25-27
Cheri speaks and writes from a place of deep faith, a faith that has been buffeted through the storms of life. Her vulnerability allows others to know they are not alone in asking questions and having doubts. Because of this she is a popular speaker; her much requested Hello God, Is This Really You day seminars and weekend retreats formed the basis for her new book Direction: Discernment for the Decisions of Your Life.
In addition to her book, Cheri’s writing credits include over seventy-five articles in such magazines at Marriage Partnership, Light & Life, Live, Seek, the Lookout, and CBN.com; her warm and heart-touching stories are in over ten anthologies including Chicken Soup for the Grandma’s Soul and God’s Handprints.
Cheri Cowell http://www.directionanddiscernment.com/
Cheri Cowell, author of Direction – Discernment for the Decisions of Your Life, is offering a huge gift basket worth $135 to one fortunate reader. Each blog tour host can pick a name from the guests to their sites who leave comments, we will put the names in the hat (one from each host), to draw a winner–so one lucky reader who leaves a comment will win the basket.
Direction: Discernment for the Decisions of Your Life by Cheri Cowell
Direction: A Companion Workbook for Practicing the Process of Discernment by Cheri Cowell
God’s Handprints: True Stories of God’s Presence in the Everyday Lives of His People
Trusting God’s People Again
Give Thanks: Glimpses of an Extraordinary God in Ordinary Lives
When God Waits: Making Sense of Divine Delays
If God is Everywhere, Why Can’t I Find Him
Simple Little Words: What you Say Can change a Life
Heartwarmers of Love: Award Winning Stories of Love, Romance, Friends, and Family
Headed in the Right Direction? notecards
Slice Apple Pie shaped/scented candle
Apple shaped stress ball
Direction JewelryTM (bracelet, earrings, and bookmark with glass apple charms) A decorative apple/fruit themed basket