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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

making decisions

Making decisions is such an integral part of our lives. We are the product of our decisions.

Listen to the story of one author:

"One night at Jr. Hi Church Camp we had a big bonfire. The next day, during free time, a friend and I walked past the place where the bonfire had been held. It was now a big pile of fluffy, soft, gray ashes.

"Wouldn't it be fun to jump in the middle of that pile?" my friend asked. Being uncharacteristically cautious, I said, "Won't we get in trouble? Won't we get dirty? Won't we get caught?" He said, "Naaa! We'll jump in the pool afterwards and who'll know the difference?" I agreed and began taking off my shoes. He was faster than me, and raced barefoot into the pile.

What couldn't be seen underneath the top layer of gray ash were the embers still burning from the night before. They couldn't be seen, but they could be felt.

My friend, never having been to a Tony Robbins seminar, wasn't prepared for the effect the red hot coals would have on his tender feet. He started yelling and jumping up and down, trying to get out of the ashes as fast he could, (dispelling, in the process, the myth that Baptists don't dance).

We spent the rest of the afternoon in the nurse's station. Even though I got through the experience unscathed, I stuck around for moral support. The question we were asked again and again was, "What possessed you to jump into a pile of burning embers?" The only answer we could come up with was something along the lines of "It seemed like a good idea at the time."

The truth, of course, was that we didn't think about what we were doing. We made an impulsive, split-second decision without considering the consequences."

Good stuff.

We do a lot of things in life that seem like a good idea at the time. Maybe it appears to be the easiest thing to do, or the most exciting thing to do, or the most expedient thing to do, but we make these spur-of-the-moment decisions without thinking them through, and inevitably, we end up getting burned.

Solomon warned of the consequences of impulsive decisions when he said...
Can a man scoop fire into his lap without being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without being scorched? (Proverbs 6:27-28)

Solomon was speaking specifically about sexual sin, but the principle applies to every foolish choice we make. A person can't make emotional, impulsive decisions based solely upon surface-level appearances without getting burned.

Maybe this is where you find yourself right now. Maybe you've gotten into a relationship that has disaster written all over it. Maybe you've taken a job that is forcing you to compromise your faith. Maybe you're pursuing dreams that can only turn into nightmares. And you're in this position because you took a running leap before thinking things through.

If that is the case, there are only two things you can do.

One, ask God to help you get out of the fire as fast as possible before you get burned any further.

Two, decide quickly never to decide quickly again. Take your time before making a decision.

The best decisions I've made are the ones that I've made slowly, prayerfully, and with much advice. It seems the longer it takes me to make a major decision, the more likely I am to discover God's will in the matter.

I quote again:

"I wish I could say my friend's firewalk taught me a lesson about impulsive decisions. However, if you looked at the bottom of my feet, you would see a few scars.

And though I've learned that God is merciful enough to pull us out of the fire of dumb decisions, I've also learned that life works much better when we allow him to direct our steps away from the burning coals."

1 comment:

Jon said...

I've made a lot of dumb decisions in my day, most of them in haste and even a few after long deliberation...unfortunately, without God. Coming back to the Lord, seeking His guidance on a daily (sometimes every minute) basis, has really helped me in my decision making and in my relationships with people. I have shared before that, prior to coming back to God, I didn't like people...that's an unforturnate downside to my occupation, that we usually only see the worst of the world and it makes us really cynical and even uncaring at times. Renewing my relationship with the Prince of Peace and the God of Love, my whole outlook on life has been changed, my view of people has been refreshed. Not that I still don't look at people with some skepticism (I probably always will as most cops just naturally assume that people lie to them, unfortunately) but I try to see beyond my past and see the need of those around me. Understanding that all of us are flawed, all of us need mercy and grace, has really helped me to look at people with reasonable expectations...that's what really gets us in trouble is expecting people to be near perfect when it is not possible. Strive for excellence but celebrate success.

Remember, God loves you all the time...not just when you're His but even when you're not. Wow! Even at my worst, He loved me and was concerned about me...I can see it in my life, looking back, and I know that it is true!

God bless