Making Decisions: Agency vs. Revelation

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By Erin Rider | Ensign April 2019

My husband and I have recently been in a situation where we needed to rely on the guidance and direction of our Father in heaven.  At the risk of sounding like this never happens, I would like to confirm that we seek for His direction daily…for big or small things.  However, some things are MUSTS, and we prefer and need to follow the counsel of the Lord closely and carefully.  In studying the scriptures, we have come to learn how to approach the Lord with our concerns. 

I am so thankful for the testimony my husband and I have of prayer and of revelation.  I am grateful for the experiences I have had that led me to the required knowledge that prayer does work, that God does answer prayer, and that if we do our part, He will reveal to us the things we need to carry on.  And I am also thankful to have the confidence to proceed with the decisions we make together, having faith in Him above.

I feel peace in my heart as my faith grows stronger, and when we are experiencing times of trial, fear is less prominent as we rely on the Lord to see us through. ~Emilia

When it comes to big decisions, how much do we need to rely on God to tell us what to do?

Every day each of us faces many decisions. Some are more mundane, like, “What should I wear?” “What should I eat for lunch?” “Is it time to buy a new car, or can I hold on to my old one a little longer?” But every so often we come across a big decision—“Should I go back to school?” “Should I accept this job?” “Should I move to a new city?” “Should I buy a house?” “Should I date this person?” “Should I marry this person?” and so on.

When confronted with big decisions, we tend to—appropriately—take a little longer to make a choice. We follow the advice given to Oliver Cowdery in Doctrine and Covenants 9:8–9, where the Lord says:

“But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.

“But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong.”

Although this is certainly good counsel, when it comes to big decisions, sometimes we rely a little too much on the part where God tells us what is right and not enough on the part where He tells us to study it out in our minds. We become so bogged down waiting for God to confirm our decisions that we let incredible opportunities pass us by. We may even recognize the role of agency, but we’re terrified of making a decision that could take us off course from our predetermined “plan” and end up assuming that anything other than a burning in the bosom or a voice from heaven means that our decision is wrong. For many of us, this unspoken tension between agency and personal revelation leads to one significant question: What is God’s role in helping us make decisions?

To read the remainder of the article, CLICK HERE.

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