How do you know when it’s time to go? Go forward, go back, go in a different direction, go make it right, go get help, go in spite of your fears?
This morning I found myself returning to a process I’ve used dozens of times when I need to sort out confusing options. I put things down on paper. It’s nothing extraordinary. But it keeps me from kidding myself about reality. It’s also a great place for God to show up to help clarify.
A couple of years ago I was evaluating a major decision about my small business, LifeChasers LLC. The business was 10 years old and it felt like it wasn’t a good fit for me anymore. How would I decide if a change was appropriate? I put things down on paper.
- Why did I launch it in the first place?
- What was the original mission? What did I hope to accomplish? What was accomplished?
- What was the market like…when I started and now?
- Did the need still exist?
- Did the market need me doing this?
- Did God want me to continue ?
- Did I have the same passion for it that I had at the beginning?
- What is the real reason for my restlessness?
- Who will help me make this decision?
- How will I know when it’s time to go? What will it look like?
- What’s next?
By the time the decision was made, I felt totally at peace that it was time to go. After 10 years, I closed my business.
It was harder to let go than I thought. I had invested so much of myself in LifeChasers and had seen wonderful things happen. It was hard to leave when I didn’t have to do so. Plus, I wasn’t sure what I was going to. A friend wisely said, “You’re going to ‘not doing LifeChasers.'” That had to be sufficient for a while. God doesn’t always tell you the to part until after you leave.
Remember Abraham’s story in Genesis 12:1-3? God told Abraham he was supposed to leave his country, leave everything that was familiar, and go? God had plans to make a great nation out of Abraham’s bloodline. As far as where Abraham was to go and how this was going to happen, God essentially said, “Uh….I’ll get back to you on that.”
It was a messy transition and Abraham totally messed up more than once getting from here to there. God did eventually provide details to Abraham and execute his plan. In fact, Jesus was born from Abraham’s blood line. Abraham’s story became part of God’s bigger story for the redemption of humankind!
Abraham did no whiteboard analysis of when to go. His “process” was simple surrender. He listened to God and said yes. “I’ll go when you say go, God, even without details.”
Today, I believe God uses both surrender and whiteboards to guide us.
Most of us will never see a magic postcard drop from the sky saying, “Go to Cleveland… and I’ll get back to you with the details.” It happens. But it’s far more common for God to reveal himself as we do the nuts-and-bolts things like a self-audit or seeking wisdom from those wiser than us or paying close attention to the circumstances playing out in our lives. God is in it all.
The first step to a good decision, though, is always surrender.
When we tell God that we’re all in to whatever he has in mind for us, even without knowing the details, we ensure we’ll be part of God’s bigger story–a storyline far more significant than anything we could figure out on our own.