A few years ago, my husband and I had to make a decision that would totally change the course of our family’s lives. Not being sure what to do, we “put out a fleece”. Saying to God that: if this happened, then we would do this. If that happened, then we would do that. What started was a long, laborious and painful period of decision making that I would never want to go through again.
Have you done that? Perhaps you have done the –“open the bible anywhere and whatever instruction I get first, that I will do” method. Or an extreme example I heard of recently was “searching scripture for three examples of positive of negative words, determining that the first complete set of three will be your answer”.
We have all used these methods of decision making, but the most common advice I hear is “putting out a fleece.” Is this good decision making? Let us examine scripture to find out why this is NOT good decision making.
In Judges 6:36-39 Gideon needs to make a decision. He has good motives: he wants to obey God and defeat all the “–ite” people that have come against Israel (verse 33). He desires to obey God, but is reluctant to make the decision. In the method he uses, he asks God to perform a miracle, yet once he has that miracle, he is still not sure, so he asks God to perform another miracle!
Putting out fleeces for God, no matter how good our motives are, only leads to uncertainty! When we are stepping out in faith like Gideon was and there is a lot at stake; we want facts! But unlike Gideon, who did not have access to scripture or the Holy Spirit and thus delayed obeying God, we have the full, complete, revealed word of God and the Spirit resides in us. When we need to know the facts in order to make a decision, we don’t need to ask for signs; we simply study the Bible, the words of God, our source of truth and talk to God.
2 Tim 3:16-17 reminds us that: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
In scripture, we find all the directions we need for wise decision making, but we are often not prepared to be active in our decision making and so demand signs from God so that we don’t have to do the hard work of seeking out His word, meditating and understanding His heart. Our experiments in signs and miracles are often inconclusive and therefore fail to make us confident about our choices.
We let “fleeces” become a substitute for God’s wisdom instead of reading and praying over scripture.
Gideon, in contrast, did have all the facts about God’s power, he had already seen fire come from a rock and consume the meat and bread (Judges 6:21). Yet, he was still demanding signs and delaying obedience because he was actually fearful. Fear, will make you delay making a decision.
Fear, prevents a step in faith based on facts and delays obedience.
Putting out fleeces is often a strategy to avoid doing the work of decision making. It is also a strategy to avoid obedience out of fear and a lack of faith. We want to be confident in our decision making and putting out fleeces is not the way to do it.
Decision making is an active, not passive process.
- Have you used fleeces as part of your decision making process? What was the result?
- What would be a more spiritually healthy approach to decision making? Our approach is : Investigate all things, study scripture, pray for wisdom and proceed with a clear conscience. Why not make a decision making strategy for yourself?
- Do you use scripture and its principles as a guide in your decision making?
Lord Jesus forgive me for all the times that I have required signs from you to make a decision, often before I obey. Forgive me for the lack of faith I have in the promises of scripture and my reluctance to spend time in the study of Your Word during decision making. I acknowledge that at times I have allowed fear to overwhelm me and have delayed obedience when it has been clear to me the path I should take. Help me to live my life based on scripture, so that I don’t have to wonder about what you want from me, but step out in confident faith knowing I understand your heart and your desires.
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