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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Do I stay or go?

We all reach points in our lives where we ask ourselves - do I stay or do I go?

Perhaps you are at that point today.

Listen to this story:

"As the persecution of Jews increased during World War II, Austrian psychologist Victor Frankl had the opportunity to go to America and avoid the imminent threat of suffering. His parents were thrilled for him, but he struggled with the question: Should I leave my parents behind in Gestapo-controlled Austria? He asked God to give him a hint from heaven.

One day Victor's father, who knew nothing of his son's inner turmoil, brought him a piece of marble taken from a bombed out synagogue. It contained a small bit of writing that Victor recognized as being from the fourth commandment: Honor your father and mother.

This was the hint he had been looking for; Frankl decided to stayed. The decision was not without a price; he and his family were arrested and imprisoned. His parents died in concentration camps, and he himself spent years in Auschwitz. But he survived, and as a result he was able to provide strength and encouragement to millions through his writings—most notably his book "Man's Search for Meaning."

During this time a German theologian named Dietrich Bonhoeffer had the opportunity to take a teaching post in America. He, too, struggled with the decision. Ultimately he declined the offer, choosing to stay in Germany because he felt an obligation to be with his own countrymen during the time of national crisis. Bonhoeffer was eventually arrested and sent to a concentration camp, where he died shortly before the war ended.

Both men had the opportunity to leave; both made the decision to stay—and both paid a price for their choice."

Powerful stories of courage and perseverance.

Sometimes our best decision is to stay. Greener pastures may be calling us elsewhere, but our true calling is right where we are. Staying doesn't often result in glory and honor.

In fact, it's more likely to result in suffering and hardship. And, yet, it is in choosing to stay that we most often do the most good.

The Apostle Paul wrote...

Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1)

The race marked out for us.

As I said at the beginning, many of us struggle with the question: How do I know whether it's time to stay or time to go? How do I know if this is the race "marked out" for me?

The answer to that question can often be found in the answer to another: Are you running to avoid pain, or running to gain the prize?

If your reason for wanting to go is simply to avoid something unpleasant, that might be a hint that God is calling you to stay. In the race marked out for you, there will be times when you must take a bold step of faith into the unknown. And there will be times when you must take an even bolder step of faith into the known. And defiance of the call to the face of certain struggle.

Are you struggling with a stay-or-go decision? Ask yourself: which takes me closer to the prize?

If you need a hint from heaven, God will provide one; just be ready to take an obedient next step in the race marked out for you.

1 comment:

Jon said...

Aah, the prize! Not the world's prize, not wealth or fame or success (though all of those things are good and God would like for us to have them as we need them) but the prize of eternal life in heaven. The prize of hearing God say, "Well done, good and faithful servant." Sometimes when we change, we end up in more hurt than not...but, deliberate thought and prayer with God will clue you in to what is in store for you.

I had this experience a little more than a year ago...about 18 months now...when I was asked to return to a supervisory job in law enforcement. It meant a lot of extra time, a lot of extra effort, a lot of extra headache and see, up until that point (well, for a year previously) I was only answerable to one person here at work. I'm always answerable to God but that's a different story in my life. So, the choice was to go from being answerable to the big boss to adding a couple of layers between us...also, I was only responsible for me. Now, the choice was to add 40 people to my list of responsibilities. I wasn't concerned that I could do that, I've managed many more people in the course of my career but I knew the stress that would result from that decision. I spoke with several people whom the decision would effect and whose counsel I found to be wise in the past...I spoke with my family (some of those were also in the wise category above) and I spoke with my friends. And through it all, I spoke with God about it...and His answer was to move forward and quit resting. Yes, I was resting, content to just be...God wanted me to move forward and use what He was giving me to touch people here at work...much easier to do in the new job than the old. But He knew what awaited me as things became tense, people retired, knowledge and contacts were lost...He knew and I knew He was there with me...and now I just wait on Him to use me for His glory.

That's the prize, dear friends, that's the prize. God loves us and wants to use us in amazing ways. Submit yourself to God and see what He has in store for you.

God's peace upon you.