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Read This Before Making That Decision

May 21, 2015

Do you need to make a decision about something that seems so exciting, but you can’t seem to shake the hesitation in your heart?

We have a family friend named Wes who has been fascinated with pilots and planes since he was a little boy. For years he dreamed of the life he’s now living as a flight-school instructor.

It’s thrilling. But recently it’s all become a bit more complicated. The owner of the flight school decided to offer Wes the opportunity to buy him out. It’s an amazing opportunity. But a scary one. One that created a bit of hesitation for Wes.

Our family has spent lots of time processing this decision with Wes. We’ve helped him with assessing the costs to this endeavor: the cost to him personally, the cost to his young wife, and the cost of everyday pressures people who own their own businesses feel.

As we were talking with him one day, I shared a picture I keep in my mind when making decisions.

Imagine this opportunity as an amazingly attractive but fast-moving river. There is so much that looks extremely appealing about this river, that you’re going to be tempted to jump right in. But once in the river, you have diminished your ability to make decisions.

That river is moving so fast that it will take you where it is going. And if you haven’t carefully determined in advance whether you want to go all the places where the river flows, you’ll be in trouble.

College students declaring their majors should trace the places that career will take them. If you think you want to major in chemistry but hate working in a lab or hospital, trace that river’s path before jumping in.

Dating couples who are thinking about marriage should trace out what the term “settle down” means to each of them. If one is thinking mission field in a third-world country and the other a townhouse in middle America, trace that river’s path before jumping in.

Moms who are thinking about a new business opportunity should trace out all the expenses of getting started, including upfront costs, childcare and inventory. If a mom’s desire is to stay at home with the kids but this business will require her to be gone every night of the week, trace that river’s path before jumping in.

Before jumping into the river, you have the ability to walk up and down the banks of the river with ease.

You have the ability to stick your toes in and consider what this water will be like.

You can talk to other wise people who know things about this river. And sit quietly listening for God’s voice, reading His Word and looking for confirmation on what to do next.

But once you jump in, the current has a way of demanding your full attention. It’s not that you can’t make adjustments once you’re in the river; it’s just a lot harder to go a different direction once you’re in it.

Several verses describing God’s leading, directing and guiding beside the water have been great comfort to me:

“He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water (Isaiah 49:10b, NIV).

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (Psalm 23:1-3, NKJV).

“With weeping they shall come, and with pleas for mercy I will lead them back, I will make them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble, for I am a father to Israel” (Jeremiah 31:9, ESV).

These are comforting to me because a lot is talked about in the Christian world about stepping out in faith — which I believe in wholeheartedly.

I believe God clearly instructs some to jump right in.

But that doesn’t mean God calls everyone to jump right in. Sometimes the greater act of faith is to let God lead us, talk to us and instruct us beside the water.


Dear Lord, I want to really think about this river before jumping in. Reveal anything I might not be seeing right now. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Overcome the agony of hard choices with a wisdom-based decision making process in my book The Best Yes! Get your copy here.

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  1. Bev

    This was an answer to prayer. You know how we want everything to happen now and we just don’t want to wait? We always think we have to have an answer now!!! I’ve been asking for direction about a decision that could be very exciting, but at the same time could have some huge negative ramifications if it isn’t what God wants for me. So, I’ve been waiting, and waiting, and waiting… For the last couple of days, I had begun to ask God for clear direction and surrendering it to Him everyday. Your blog was His answer to me for now. I’m content with my continued stand.

  2. Mary B.

    Thank you, a new job opportunity came across my path this week. I was not looking for it, but there it is… perfect timing to get this emailed to me today. Going to stick my toe in first before I jump or don’t jump at all!

  3. Christine Marie

    This was such a comfort to me today. I recently had to put of a major life change because of some personal family issues. I really felt like God was saying to me “you are a wife and a Mom first, when the time is right I will let you know”, and I am totally ok with that. But other people in my life have not accepted this so easily. I’m going to use this devotion to help them understand. Thanks so much Lysa!

  4. Steve Wiersum

    One of the challenges that my wife and I face is waiting. Waiting is a great character and faith builder. I will now always think about waiting as God leading me beside the waters before I jump in to wait for Him to teach me and speak to me.

  5. Holly Yeagle

    I jumped in the river in 1999 choosing a home business over my corporate career. It was a decision two years in the making and many wonderful sermons that helped to guide the plan. God was with me every step and I have a beautiful testimony. I worked that business 10 years while raising my 2 girls and was there during my fathers illness and death. Steven Curtis Chapmans Diving In was the pop song of the time. Last summer, I came back to the same corporation I left 15 years earlier and continuing on in my career. My daughters are now beautiful, smart young women that I praise God for everyday!

  6. Bronte Waller

    Dear lysa
    My beautiful friend ruth introduced me to you.

    Just wanted to let know how very thankful that your voice is out there and accessible. You have such a gift of bringing God and reality and honesty and intertwining it with messages of wisedom and encouragement. So thankful for all your stories and your “spit the dummy” moments. Sometimes they are God’s greatest opportunities!

    Thank you for being real and normalising how complex our lives are. I love your heart and passion and you so inspire me- all the way down here in Aussieland!
    Keep speaking boldly.
    It’s life changing.


  7. Laurie Thompson

    Lysa, I so love your blogs. I really resonate with what you share and love the obvious depth of your relationship with the Lord. The river direction and forward thinking is a brilliant analogy which I will use in my own life as well as in my coaching. Thanks!

  8. Jenni DeWitt

    One of my greatest characteristics and biggest downfalls is that I’m not afraid to jump headfirst into something new. I love this concrete suggestion to look downstream. It’s a good reminder from your book. Thank you!

  9. Katrina

    Very good visual and thoughts here. Thank you. I think my tendency is being too afraid to jump in when it’s time. I just keep wandering back and forth beside the river. I need to be more in tune with God’s voice when He tells me to jump in and to let that fear go.

  10. Alica Best

    I was just having this internal battle. I feel I know what God wants me to do. I have been putting it off out of fear. I am thankful I found your blog.

  11. Jennifer Dougan

    Nice analogies, Lysa. This line brought me the most joy reading here tonight: “God’s leading, directing and guiding beside the water have been great comfort to me.” Yes, and the tension of listening to the Holy Spirit about when and if to jump in.

    Jennifer Dougan

  12. Lisa Hurley

    Hi, Lysa. We spoke briefly at the Hearts at Home conference back in March where I served at a volunteer at a nearby table. I absolutely love your writing! This blog post is perfectly timed, as I was recently approached by a friend with a business proposition. The waters are tempting and I nearly jumped in head first (I tend to do that), but the Lord prompted me to stop and spend some time in prayer before deciding. Today I told my friend that I appreciate the offer, but no thanks. And then I read your post, which provided such confirmation. Your words and stories speak so strongly to me as a Christian mom and as a blogger and aspiring author. Thank you!

  13. Summer

    You have such wisdom and I always benefit from what you have to say. I am splashed with refreshing grace and truth when I read your words, thanks for sharing! 🙂

  14. Amma Konadu

    trace that river’s path before jumping in

    Hmmm….this…is God.

  15. Grace

    Hi! I imagine I’m fairly young in comparison to most your audience but I am reading the best yes. I apologize that sounded off putting. I am really glad I stumbled across your book and picked it up and well that I’m reading it. I really needed it. I wanted to thank you so I went to this post though it is a little old. I read the chapter about “soul time” the way you blocked out time to write. What stood out though most of all was the anecdote of debating to go out for fries rather than write how you said you didn’t consider yourself a writer yet neither did your friend and then you remarked only your mom did. Thanks for putting that in God really spoke to me through that. I have been struggling with my confidence about my own writing. I attend an art school where I focus on creative writing, I just felt that I was the worst writer the school had allowed in I was super down and out and so close to just giving it up and I was forgetting that I loved it that it wasn’t sometning I could just give up it was God’s gift to me. So thank you.

  16. Beth

    **please pray**
    Please help me pray for my marriage. It seems that my husband has a hardened heart, and only God soften it to forgive, love, transform, and restore. With all my heart and soul, and with the help of Jesus, I pray that my marriage is restored and more beautiful than I could ever imagine possible. All the glory to our Heavenly Father.

    Beth and Charles

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