Dr. Ray Pritchard

Author, Speaker, President of Keep Believing Ministries

Atlanta or Miami--How Do I Decide?

The following email arrived a few days ago. I have changed the city names for the sake of privacy, but the overall question has not been changed.

Dear Mr. Pritchard,

Right now I am trying to figure out God's plan for my life. Recently I was asked to move to Miami for work, and after much prayer I still don't know where He wants me. There are many arrows pointing toward going, but I feel no peace whatsoever about leaving Atlanta. Do you have any advice on how to distinguish whether I'm just nervous about the move, or if God is perhaps really telling me to stay?

Here is my answer :

Dear Friend,

Thanks for your note and for your question. I think the answer goes something like this: There is no way to be certain in advance about Miami vs. Atlanta. Sometimes we want something God never promised. We want certainty in advance about how our decisions will work out. Proverbs 3:5-6 reminds us not to “lean on our own understanding” but to trust completely in the Lord. I take that to mean that you should use your mind, research your options, consider the pros and cons, pray over it, think about it, discuss it with friends, and ask God for wisdom. But having done that, don’t make the mistake of thinking you can figure out your own future. No one can do that.

At some point you simply have to decide.
No one can do that for you.

Years ago I heard a wise man say, When facing a big decision, ask yourself, “What difference this make in 10,000 years?” That’s helpful. What difference will it make in 10,000 years whether you lived in Miami or Atlanta?” Answer: none at all. Doesn’t mean your decision doesn’t matter, but what matters far more is your heart attitude toward the Lord. If you truly want to serve him, you can do that equally well in Miami or Atlanta. And if you want to disobey, you can do that in either place as well.

My only other suggestion is to set some sort of time limit for wrestling with this. Set a date certain when you will decide. Then make your choice and go with it. Will it work out? Who knows? Maybe so, maybe not. Remember, you have the whole world in front of you. If Miami doesn’t work out, try Paris or Singapore or Rock Springs, WY or Yorkshire in England or South Africa. If your heart is open to God, you can go literally anywhere and serve him. I urge you to seek that sort of openness, then make your choice, go with it, and then see what happens next. If it is true that “He will direct your path,” then you can trust God to take care of you wherever you happen to be.

I hope this helps a little bit.
10,000 blessings,
Ray Pritchard

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In the Garden: Not the Gardener


“’Woman,’ he said, ‘why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?’ Thinking he was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him’” (John 20:15). 

Why didn’t Mary recognize the Lord? The text doesn’t say but several answers come to mind. Certainly she was not expecting to see him. All of us have “contexts” in which we place our friends. We have people we know from work or from the neighborhood or from a family reunion. Pastors get to know people because they tend to sit in the same place every Sunday. But if the pastor runs into some of those same people at the grocery store on Thursday afternoon, he is likely to draw a blank because they are out of context.

Certainly Jesus was “out of context” for Mary that morning. And she had been weeping and was overcome with emotion. But the main reason seems to be that Jesus deliberately veiled his own identity much as he did with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). Jesus did not want Mary to recognize him at first so he could teach her an important truth. She had to learn he is always present even when he is invisible to the naked eye. We must learn that same lesson. Our Lord is often closest to us when we feel the most alone. Many times while going through a dark valley, we think God has abandoned us. But if only our eyes could be opened, we would see the Lord walking with us every step of the way. Just because we don’t see him doesn’t mean he isn’t there.

Note the question Jesus asked: “Who are you looking for?” Not “What are you looking for?” That’s a different question. Mary was looking for a what, a dead body. She was looking for something; Jesus pointed her to someone. The answer to our deepest needs is not something, but someone, the Lord Jesus Christ.

On this happy Resurrection Morning, we celebrate because Jesus lives today.

He is risen!
He is risen indeed!

Open our eyes, Lord Jesus, to see you as you truly are. We are glad that death has been defeated. May our hearts overflow with resurrection joy. Amen.

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Behind Closed Doors: Waiting

“Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment” (Luke 23:56).

The four gospels do not tell us much about what happened on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. We know that after Jesus died, the disciples stayed behind locked doors for fear of the Jewish leaders (John 20:19). Their fear was well-founded because on that Saturday, the chief priests and the Pharisees met with Pilate and asked him to order the tomb sealed to prevent the disciples from stealing Jesus’ body (Matthew 27:62-66). After the resurrection, those same religious leaders would bribe the guards so they would spread the rumor that the disciples had indeed stolen Jesus’ body from the tomb (Matthew 28:11-15). In a bizarre twist, Jesus’ opponents had a greater belief in his resurrection than his disciples. The only other detail we know about Saturday is that because it was the Sabbath, the women who were with Jesus at the cross rested according to the commandment (Luke 23:56).

One thing seems clear about that Saturday. No one was expecting a resurrection. All four gospels tell the same story of shock and confusion when the women discovered the empty tomb on Sunday morning. Whatever else they did on Saturday, no one was saying, “I can’t wait until tomorrow when Jesus rises from the dead.” Even though he had said he would rise, the brutal events at Golgotha made that prediction seem like wishful thinking.

The message of Holy Saturday is, “Get ready. Something is about to happen. But it hasn’t happened yet.” Thank God, we’re not moving back toward the crucifixion. It may be Saturday but we’re moving toward Easter. Sunday’s coming. All we’ve got to do is hold on a little while longer and Sunday will soon be here.

Keep the faith, brothers and sisters. Yesterday our Lord was crucified. Today his body lies in the tomb. Tomorrow he rises from the dead. Saturday can seem like a long day—and it is—but be of good cheer. The crucifixion is behind us, Saturday will not last forever. Sooner than we think, Sunday will be here. As one writer put it, when Jesus walked out of the tomb, all his people came out with him.

We are Easter people marching from Good Friday through Holy Saturday on our way to Easter Sunday. We’re not quite there but we’re moving in the right direction.

It’s Saturday, but Sunday’s coming. Let that thought give strength to your heart today.

O Lord, waiting is so hard. And waiting is what this day is all about. Grant us faith while we wait so we will not lose heart but will be ready to rejoice when Sunday finally comes. Amen.

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Golgotha: Were You There?

“They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull)” (Mark 15:22).

It’s Friday morning, 9 A.M. Killing time in Jerusalem.

Outside the Damascus Gate is a road and on the other side of the road is a flat area near the spot where the prophet Jeremiah is buried. Up above you can see a rocky outcropping that, if studied at a certain angle, looks like a skull. Eroded into the limestone are two sockets for the eyes, a place for the nose and maybe a place for the mouth.

Skull Hill, they called it. Golgotha.

Consider these three words from Mark 15:25, “They crucified him.” The word “they” speaks of the people who crucified our Lord. The “they” included the Romans, the Jews, and it includes you and me. We all had our share in the death of Jesus.

The word “crucified” speaks of the painful death he suffered. Crucifixion was the ultimate punishment in that day. It represented the final judgment of the world on Jesus: “This man deserves to die.” Though he had done no wrong, they crucified him anyway.

The word “him” speaks of the person who died that day. This was no ordinary man. As the centurion cried out when Jesus died, “Surely, this was the Son of God!”

I heard a story recently about a man who visited Golgotha and the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem. Overwhelmed, he began to weep. “Have you ever been here before?” someone asked. “Oh, yes,” he replied. “I was here 2000 years ago.”

The song Were You There? asks a question we ought to ponder today:

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Lord Jesus, we tremble to think of what you endured for our salvation. May we never be ashamed of Jesus or what he did for us. Amen. 

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