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Eleven People Who Made Difficult Decisions
"Life is so complex today! I'm afraid I'll miss the will of God for my life."
"My life is so mixed up and complicated that I don't know what to do!"
These are typical cries I've heard through the years. It seems to be increasingly difficult even for God's people to make correct decisions--not because God has changed but because life has radically changed. This world is infinitely more complex today than it was just a generation ago, and it will doubtless become even more so as the high-tech, social, and spiritual revolutions continue to gather momentum.
The following stories describe some of the people who've sought my help in finding God's will. They represent the hundreds of people who come with complex problems and decisions, needing to find God's direction for their difficult situations. Although the names used in these examples are fictitious, the stories themselves are very real. In fact, these stories may remind you of your own situation or that of a relative, friend, or neighbor.
As you read through these examples, ask yourself, "How would I begin to look for God's will in this situation?" You will not find answers to that question in this chapter; my purpose here is to relate only the complex decisions these people faced. Later in the book, however, I will use each of these stories to illustrate biblical techniques that can help you make the difficult decisions that will mold the course of your life.
The Widow with Three Sons
Joan, an attractive, thirty-nine-year-old woman, approached me for counseling, identifying herself as a "widow" with three sons. She told me that she had fallen in love with a Christian man who had two daughters similar in age to her boys. Their mother had died of cancer a little over two years before. "We've been seeing each other for the past year and a half and are very much in love," Joan explained. "We have many things in common, he's a spiritual leader in our church, and all the children enjoy each other. They look forward to having new brothers and sisters."
As she spoke, I thought to myself, What's your problem? The situation certainly sounds ideal to me. Then she revealed the difficulty. "My husband, a major in the Air Force, had been a pilot throughout our marriage. But seven years ago he was shot down over Vietnam, and after four years of being listed as missing in action, the government declared him dead. For three years I've carried this knowledge, not knowing for sure if he's alive or dead. What should I do? If I marry Bob, whom I now love, and Charles is found in a prison camp and released, I will have betrayed him, our sons, and our marriage vows. But if Charles really is dead and I refuse to marry Bob, I'll be destroying what happiness we could have together and the normal family life we could give to our children. I've prayed diligently about this matter, but the Lord hasn't given me an answer. What should I do?"
As you know, this bizarre situation is not an isolated case in this crazy, mixed-up world. Joan obviously needed supernatural wisdom. As I'll illustrate later, she received it.
Should the Unfaithful Husband Tell?
A very distraught father of three children who attended our Christian school came in for counseling. With much effort Dick haltingly told his story. This forty-year-old Christian was very successful at two professions, his regular job and the Amway business he'd started just four years earlier. In fact, the Amway business was doing so well that he felt he could soon quit his eight-to-five job to have more time with the family.
Then it came tumbling out. Dick had been unfaithful to his wife. "Only once, I swear it! But it's driving me crazy. I love my wife and am so guilty about what I did that I'm having problems with male impotence for the first time in my life." I wasn't surprised, for I've seen guilt make a virile twenty-five-year-old man impotent.
Dick had met an attractive, outgoing Christian woman at an Amway convention. They had spent too much time together making provision for "the flesh," which the Bible warns us not to do. First they chatted, then they sat together, then they had coffee, soon they ate meals together--and then it happened. It was difficult to tell who propositioned whom, but Dick spent one night in this happily married woman's room.
"We never plan to see or hear from each other again. Both of us have no intention of ruining our marriages and disgracing our families. We just got carried away and are ashamed of what we've done. We want to put this behind us--but I can't. It haunts me whenever I crawl into bed with my wife.
"I've confessed my sin to God, and I never want to let myself get so spiritually low that I do a thing like that again--it just isn't worth it. But what should I do about my wife? If I tell her, I'm afraid it'll kill her--or make her frigid! What do I do?"
By using some of the principles outlined in this book, Dick also discovered God's will for his situation.
The Unwed, Pregnant Teen
Two brokenhearted parents and their obviously pregnant seventeen-year-old daughter came in for counseling. The daughter, Becky, wasn't intentionally loose with her morals. She was a Christian who had even witnessed to many of her friends in school, but during the past few months she'd lost interest in spiritual things. She hadn't gone to church camp the previous summer and had attended church and youth activities only sporadically. Becky felt that sex with her popular, athletic boyfriend was necessary to maintain their relationship and bask in the sunlight of his popularity. Although our youth pastor had tried to intervene early in this relationship, Becky had rejected his attempts.
Now, of course, she was very repentant. "I've ruined my whole life," she cried. Her parents were determined to give Becky loving support as she confronted this difficult trauma. But the situation was further complicated by the fact that the boyfriend--not a Christian--had offered to marry Becky. What should they do? What was God's will in this disastrous situation?