Waltke begins by debunking all of the spurious methods of divination that creep into a Christian’s methodology for decision making. He shows that much of our fuzzy thinking has more in common with practices of paganism than with a biblical orientation to trying to please our Lord. He gives practical illustrations to de-mystify such practices as casting lots, looking for signs, pulling a Bible promise out of a random selection box, putting out a fleece, opening our Bible to some random text that we take out of context, trying to empty our mind to see what type of hunch God gives us, etc.
Walke also explains the process of Progressive Revelation in which OT practices and even the occasional special revelation by God in the foundational stages of the church cannot be taken as normative experiences for this age. He then constructs a sensible six step sequential process that is based on our relationship with a personal God who indwells us and provides guidance through His Holy Spirit. As we draw close to God in increasing conformity to Jesus Christ and align our hearts and desires with His will, we find a natural process for decision making that actually makes sense.
The sequential six step process involves:
1) A Biblical Orientation — as we read the Bible and seek to apply its principles we develop convictions to live by. “The wise Christian reads Scripture, meditates on it, and puts it into practice. Of course we need the proper skill set to interpret the scriptures correctly. We also need to balance our more scientific exegetical tools with the personal dynamic of our relationship with the Holy Spirit who enlightens us throughout the process. Therefore, prayer and a spirit of humility are important in order that we continue to be teachable.
2) Develop a Heart for God — It should not be surprising that God is not trying to hide His will from His children. As our loving heavenly Father He longs to give us the desires of our hearts and works through those desires as we draw closer to Him. “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
3) Seek Wise Counsel — “He who walks with the wise becomes wise.”
4) Look for God’s Providence — God is at work in the circumstances of our lives. The Book of Ruth serves as a good illustration here. Thing might appear to happen on a random, chance basis — but God is at work. However, an open door of opportunity does not necessarily correlate with the will of God. That is why Waltke presents all of these six steps to be undertaken in a sequential fashion.
5) Use Good Judgment and Common Sense — God gave us a brain and intends for us to use it. We don’t want to start with this step since just a rational approach to decision making will miss the reality that often God’s ways are not man’s ways. But at this point in the process we do not want to be paralyzed into inactivity by some sense that we need God to perform some handwriting on the wall or turn on a light bulb in our mind. We should weigh the pros and cons and see what makes sense, given our level of maturity. I especially liked his comments related to taking into consideration your giftedness and ability.
6) Finally there is the SLIM possibility of Divine Intervention — Here God works without your seeking such intervention … so you can pretty much skip over this chapter and not miss any crucial action steps in the process. “Divine intervention usually is limited to one of three roles: revealing a great truth, saving one of God’s children from an intolerable situation, or revealing why a Christian should act in violation of God’s normal program of guidance.