Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Decisions, decions, decisions

Life's full of decisions.  Some are simple and easy.  Some are complex and hard.  We probably wish that we had something like one of those Magic 8 Balls to help us when it comes to times in our lives when we need to make decisions.  How nice would it be if those decisions could just be served up to us on a platter, ready for the taking?

But would that really be a good thing?  Decision-making is a journey of sorts.  We go through a process to try to determine what the right decision is for us.  In the process of deciding, we learn, we gain wisdom and insight, and we are hopefully different by the time the decision is made.

Sometimes life hands us decisions that need to be made quickly and in a timely fashion.  Other times, we have the luxury of being intentional and deliberate as we navigate through the decision-making process.  When we have that opportunity, to prayerfully and thoughtfully discern, we need to seize it and take advantage of it.

Sometimes, it's very helpful to have many counselors and much input for decisions.  Other times, it's not.  Proverbs 15:22 says, "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed."  At the same time, if we read the story of Job in the Bible, we saw the "counsel" that he received from his friends.  Counsel like that can help to cloud and muddy the decision-making waters, rendering us more confused than when we started.

Decision-making in the world of Christians can get even more complicated.  We often dress up our decisions with spiritual language.  "I need to pray about it" or "I'm seeking the Lord's guidance."  Those are true statements and if we honestly want to honor God with our lives, we need to be seeking Him in the midst of our decisions, but we need to be careful that when we use these phrases that we REALLY do what we say we are going to do.

Too often, I think, we throw those phrases around just to make ourselves look spiritual.  Having been there before, I know that there have been times that I have told people that I am praying about something and then forget to do just that.  That kind of approach isn't God-honoring at all.

In fact, James gives us encouragement and instruction in our times of need.  James 1:5-8 says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do."  God wants to help us in our decisions, so why do we fail to take Him up on His offer?  Why do we continue to do things on our own?

Speaking from experience, I would guess that the number one reason why we do this is because we are afraid.  It feels like a loss of control.  We're not so sure that we want to put big decisions in the hands of someone else, even if it's the God of the universe who created and formed us.  We would much rather hold on to it ourselves and think that we have control.

And what happens if we get that wisdom that He promised and the decision that we feel that we are being led to isn't the one that we had hoped for?  What happens when things don't turn out the way that we want?  That's where James gets to in his letter, we need to believe and not doubt.  Part of that believing is that He will truly help us as we make decisions and that the end result will be what is best for us.  We need to trust that God has our best interests in mind and trust His guidance, even when the end result doesn't seem like what we expected or even wanted.

Life's full of decisions.  What's the process that you're going to take in making them?

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