We face choices each day. Some are mundane everyday choices. Mundane choices can be deciding what to eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Salesmen look at their schedule wondering which clients to call. Shoppers look at the large variety of choices, deciding which shopping mall to go, what shops to patronize and what things to buy. The choices are so mindboggling that many people need help to decide. Others are more significant and can change our direction in life permanently. Helping people make intelligent choices can be a profitable enterprise. We have all kinds of books nowadays, from helping people with buying a car, to choosing a computer.
What about our own life choices? how do we going about making big decisions in life? Decisions about who do we marry? What school do we go to? Which University subject to major in? What am I going to do when I graduate? When are we going to have kids? These choices may seem ordinary, but under certain circumstances, they can be extremely difficult to make. Some people simply bulldoze through life, just like the Nike label that says: "JUST DO IT." Others seem to be permanently in a state of indecision, that NOT-MAKING-A-DECISION becomes a decision in itself. Some Christians believe that all the answers they ever need is in the Holy Bible. But does the Bible tell us exactly who we should marry, or what job we should apply for? It is quite obvious that such specific things are not in any of the 66 book of Scripture. Ha ha. Wouldn't it be easier if all our names were already written in the Bible and we do not then have to agonize over life choices? Not really.
In Genesis 13, we read about 2 men given life choices. Abram and his nephew Lot could not get along because the land could not support their two families and their possessions. As a kind uncle, Abram generously let Lot take the first choice. He said to Lot:
"Please let there be no strife between you and me, nor between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are brothers. Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me; if to the left, then I will go to the right; and if to the right, then I will go to the left." (Gen 13:8-9)So Lot lifted up his eyes, saw the best land around and chose for himself the choicest part of the land, which is on the East side as far as Sodom.
If I am Abram, I will probably be thinking: "If Lot chooses the best part of the land, what about me? What about my family? Will there be anything left for me? Let's hope Lot make a bad choice."
Instead, after Lot chose what was pleasing in his eyes, Abram received this wonderful word from the LORD which says:
"Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever." (Gen 13:14-16)WHAT A DIFFERENCE! Lot was given a first choice, and he was under pressure to choose the best for himself and his family. Abram on the other hand was given the FREEDOM to choose whatever. North, South, East or West, it doesn't matter. God assured Abram that when GOD IS WITH YOU, it doesn't really matter. When you have the GUIDE, why worry so much about guidance? Like lovers on a date, isn't it true that WHERE WE GO means nothing, when we know WHO WE WANT TO BE WITH?
In other words, God is telling Abram that it does not matter. It does not matter what choice you make. It does not matter whether your choice is right or wrong at the first selection. It does not matter whether you make a mistake or not. What matters is that if the LORD gives you, happily receive. If the LORD does not give, be thankful, knowing that God will supply us all we need according to the riches of his glory. Whatever it is, remember that God is with you. Isn't that liberating?
My College professor James Innell Packer, author of the well-known book called KNOWING GOD, says that the reason why Christians are anxious about making choices is because:
"a desire for guidance is linked with uncertainty about how to get it and fear of the consequences of not getting it." He then supplies 10 principles to go about dealing with this. Let me share with you his principle #10 which I personally find helpful:
"Never forget that it you make a bad decision, it is no the end. God forgives and restores. He is your covenant God and Savior. He will not let you go, however badly you may have slipped. "Micah 7:8 reads
'Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me. '
This is where I will leave you. Let us not be too caught up with the pressures of making right or wrong decisions. Lighten up. Things may not be as serious as your worries make them out to be. Let's enjoy the journey, believing that God will carry us through in his good time. Whatever wrong choices we think we have made, commit it to the LORD. As much as he can make our good decisions into BETTER decisions, he too is able to turn our wrong decisions into ways that can bring glory to his name. Let us not worry about which button to press, what shirt to wear or become anxious about the unknown future. Give thanks to God for all we have today, and let tomorrow worry about itself. Just make your best decision and leave the results to God. Apply wisdom and knowledge where appropriate. Talk to a trusted friend or a wise person. Most of all, the most important point is, no matter what choice we make, it is not the PRESENTS, but the PRESENCE OF GOD that is most important; for God is IMMANUEL. God is with us.
Note: The podcast edition of this week's Sabbathwalk is available here.