Making big decisions has historically been a gut-wrenching experience for me. Instead of feeling liberated by the Christian truth that God promises to lead us, I feel burdened by it. The pressure of being certain about the will of God has weighed me down to the point of debilitation. The need to get it right and not make a bad choice has tended to destroy any joy that is supposed to be present in Christian freedom. Decisions have turned into those fork in the road moments where I’m consumed with the fear of taking the wrong path.
It is with this personal back-drop that I read the following quote. I find it an excellent articulation of our responsibility and freedom in making decisions in the real world.
It is now necessary to actually discern what the will of God may be, what might be right in the given situation, what may please God; for one must, of course, live and act concretely. Intellect, cognitive ability, and attentive perception of the context come into lively play here. All of this discerning will be encompassed and pervaded by the commandment. Prior experiences will raise encouraging or cautionary notes. Under no circumstances must one count on or wait for unmediated inspirations, lest all to easily one fall prey to self-deception. Given the matter at hand, an intensely sober attitude will govern the discerning. Possibilities and consequences will be considered carefully. In short, in order to discern what the will of God may be, the entire array of human abilities will be employed. But in all of this there will be no place for the torment of being confronted with insoluble conflicts, nor the arrogance of being able to master any conflict, nor also the enthusiastic expectation and claim of direct inspirations. here will be faith that, to those who humbly ask, God will surely make the divine will known. And then, after all such serious discernment there will also be freedom to make a real decision; in this freedom there will be confidence that it is not the human but the divine will that is accomplished through such discernment. The anxiety about wether one has done the right thing will turn neither into a desperate clinging to one’s own good, nor into the certainty of knowing about good and evil. Instead, it will be overcome in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, who alone exercises gracious judgment; this will allow one’s goodness to remain hidden the knowledge of grace of the judge until the proper time
Bonhoeffer, Ethics, 323-24