This is Jocelyn Green, and today I have the pleasure of offering a book review of Cheri Cowell’s Direction: Discernment for the Decisions of Your Life. Many times, it’s easy to discern a good choice from a bad one. But when neither option is bad or wrong, how does one know which path to choose? While most of us would prefer the proverbial “handwriting on the wall” to show us the way, that kind of unmistakable message from God is rare. But according to Cowell’s book, that’s OK. We don’t need it. In fact, instead of trying to guess what God’s will is, she writes, we should instead focus on discerning His “way.” When we know God’s way, we’ll be better able to choose our own.
Direction is not a Ouija board which will magically point you to your next move. It equips the reader with the right questions, the right tools to evaluate the possibilities on his or her own. Cowell also wisely devotes a chapter to “Obstacles to Hearing from God.” Drawing on personal experiences, real-life stories from others, the Word of God and the wisdom of classic theologians, Cowell explores decision-making at a fundamental level. I found her insights to be thoroughly based in Scripture and very balanced.
We all look for signs to help us make decisions, but the difference is in how we use those signs. In Chapter 8, “Asking the Wrong Question,” Cowell explains:
“Both road signs and wisdom signs use the same guideposts, but the difference between the two is found in the intent. In the personal pathways approach, the intent in reading road signs is to find God’s individual will. In the wisdom way, we use the same signs, but the intent is to grow in wisdom rather than find an individual will ordained for us by God. Because much of our society is steeped in this individualistic brew, it may be difficult for us to sip from this new cup. It was for me . . .” (p.153)
Cowell adds even more value to her already solid book by including several helpful appendices and group study questions for each chapter, making this well-suited for small group or individual use, and appropriate for every stage of life.