Five years ago, someone asked me, "You listen for God to speak, right? And you ask Him what He wants you to do? At what point do you use your brain?" Since then, several people have asked a similar question. It seems natural to ask God for wisdom and direction when it comes to big decisions like where to live, who to marry, etc. But should we go overboard and stand still, waiting for orders? Is it like working the chain gang in Cool Hand Luke where you have to get God's approval before everything? "Getting a drink of water, Boss."
This question came up last night during a Bible study after some friends and I read James 4. Verses 13-15 say, "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.' Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.'"
We talked for a few minutes and asked ourselves, where's the line? Do we avoid boasting 'I'm going to get a drink of water' and instead say, 'If the Lord wills, I will live to get a drink of water'?
Wise people make wise choices because they have wisdom. That makes sense, right? And according to Proverbs 9:10, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." If we seek to know God, we'll know how to live. Fearing Him could simply mean we make decisions we know will make Him happy. We live for His approval.
Of course we should still ask for wisdom and listen for the Holy Spirit when we pray. When I lived at home, I asked my dad for his advice whenever I needed guidance. And yet there were times I chose to do something based on what he had already taught me. At all times, though, I also had to be open to his correction. I may have thought it was alright to dig for treasure in the backyard, but I had to listen to him when he told me to stop and dig in the woods instead.
Do you ever have trouble finding that line between listening and action? Which side do you lean more toward?