By BARBARA LOWNSBURY

What do you do when you’re facing a major decision, or you’re at a crossroads in your life?  When that curve ball you weren’t expecting hits you squarely in the face, demanding immediate attention?  Those types of moments are some of the most challenging spaces we face, and answers can feel difficult to come by.

Blessedly, God has some really great solutions.  As I’m facing my own unique blessings and challenges, I like to go back to where wisdom is taught and found: Proverbs.  There is a great passage written down by Solomon in Proverbs 2:1-14 that really jumps out.  It starts with an “if, then” statement, as in if you do these things, then that will be your outcome.  Those are really good statements to pay attention to, especially in searching for answers!

The very first step?  Listen.  Man, that can be hard for me!  I get so caught up in the demands on my time and the needs of those around me, I can have a hard time stopping.  Or, I get overwhelmed in my own emotion and I simply can’t get past myself long enough to hear.  But if I don’t make the time to stop and engage, I can’t find His answer for me.  Even if it’s briefly, I have to make a decision to value God’s wisdom over my own need to solve or move, and force myself to slow down and check in.

Still, Proverbs makes it clear I also have to act.  Solomon uses words like “apply,” “search,” “look” and “sift.”  All of these are active verbs, action steps that have to accompany my fervent prayer.  Maybe it’s reaching out to my pool of Wise Advisors for some counsel and insight.  It could be studying my Bible on a topic.  Or researching potential solutions, or seeking out strong programs that address my situation within my community.  Regardless, this is where my intentionality comes into play.  It’s prayer AND action working hand-in-hand that allow God to show up and begin to impart wise solutions and answers.  I can’t rely exclusively on one or the other.

As I learn to continually cry out to God and lay my needs and requests before Him, looking to His word and the resources He’s given me for answers, my answers begin to come into view.  It’s like I’m looking through a lens and the view is out of focus, but as I dial into God and begin to search, the focus sharpens and the right answers for me become clearer and clearer until the solution is crisp and sharp before me.  It may not be the entire solution all at once.  That takes my faith and God-reliance out of the picture.  But it is certainly the very next step.

And the blessing?  The “then” outcome?  The Lord promises to grant me the kind of wisdom that will lead me to every good path.  Here Solomon uses words like “victory, “shield,” “guard” and “protect.”  My outcome will be “pleasant,” “pleasing.”  He literally says it will save me from walking in the dark or getting lost down crooked, ruinous paths.  Wow!  Such a powerful blessing and promise!

So today, make a decision to do just that.  To stop.  To listen.  To cry out.  To actively seek, sifting each potential solution through the lens of faith and God’s word.  “Then you will understand what is right and just and fair–every good path” (Proverbs 2:9).  Never forget God has this and He has you!

FOR FURTHER THOUGHT:  What is harder for you?  Is it to stop and listen, or to get up off your knees and act? Usually, one or the other will come easier for you, and sometimes it will change depending on the life season you find yourself in.  Today, use this reminder that wisdom comes when we both pray AND act, making the decision to filter every potential solution through that lens of faith.  Then, intentionally make space to go after doing both this when you need solutions.  I’d love to hear how it goes!

PRAYER:  Papa, how good you are to me always, even when I don’t sense or feel it.  When my answers seem elusive and far away, help me to remember that Your wisdom is right there waiting for me to trustingly reach toward it.  Help me to slow down enough to seek Your voice, a sheep who is in tune with the voice of its master.  And thank you in advance for protecting me through every circumstance, leading me along a path that is pleasant and good.  Always you are so good to me!  I am grateful for Your divine care.  Let me carry Your presence with me today and always, Papa.  Amen.

BARB LOWNSBURY is an author, speaker and proud mother of three.  She serves as the Executive Director for The Dented Fender ministry.  Follow Barb and The Dented Fender community on Facebook and Instagram.