Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

The concept has been in the forefront of my mind this week, the weight of decisions, the importance of them. When I went looking for a picture to go along with this post, I thought this one was perfect. Decisions are so important, even ones that may seem minuscule in the moment of making them, their effect can be vast and long term. I loved this picture the moment that I saw it because it occurred to me the key ingredient that is lost in the process of most decisions, it's strategy. I looked up the meaning of it, strategy is defined as "a plan or method for achieving a specific goal." That's the problem, too many decisions are being made without any goal in mind.

It makes me think of a particular scripture in the King James version. Proverbs 29:18a says, "Where there is no vision, the people perish..."

I don't actually proclaim to be certain that this is the correct interpretation of the verse, but it is food for thought.

So, you might ask, what is it that has me thinking about the magnitude of decisions. Why I am I consumed with their power, what power am I actually contemplating that they have? I have a multitude of thoughts running through my head, so I'm just going to share a couple of them randomly.

Are people truly ignorant enough to believe that the decisions they make don't affect anyone but themselves? (Clearly they are.)

Why do the young and foolish have so much power and authority in the decision making process? (Case in point, 19-year old me, made decisions that nearly 40-year-old me still has to walk out.)

Okay, confession... that wasn't random at all. These are the thoughts that are consuming my mind lately.

Earlier this week there was a huge tragedy in my neck of the woods. There was a pitcher for the Angels, Nick Adenhart, who was killed in a car accident. Well, it's almost hard to call it an accident. This young upstart who was just 22-years-old, full of promise and potential was suddenly and tragically killed by a drunk driver. The drunk driver was also just 22, driving on a suspended license for a previous incident with alcohol. He ran a red light and killed three people, a fourth still hanging in the balance. Two young men, two very different stories.

I think about the two of them and it saddens me. Adenhart had vision, he carefully and strategically focused on a goal for his life and he was working hard towards it. He was just beginning to see his vision come to fruition. Then you have this other young man, who put no forethought in his decision. He got into a car and put himself and every other person on the road with him at risk without any consideration for possible consequences, and the worst case scenario came true. And although now charged with 3 counts of murder, he potentially faces a huge consequence for his actions, one could clearly make the argument that others by far have paid a much greater price for his lack of wisdom in the decision making process, obviously those who paid with their life and health, but also those who loved the ones that were lost. The apparent randomness is disheartening.

And for me, there lies a dilemma in thought. I don't actually believe that my sovereign God and randomness coexist well together, or actually at all. It sort of makes my brain hurt. I do know that God is the filter by which all thing that touch our lives comes through. I also know that fact can be cold comfort to those who are in the midst of grief and suffering, no matter how true it may be.

Consequences aren't always so dire. Sometimes they are just undesirable. That's the case of that 19-year-old I was speaking of. I imagine that's something that probably almost everyone considers. I look back at myself at that age and realize I did a lot of things that sort of backed me into some of the circumstances I find myself in now. Let me be clear here. I overwhelmingly love my life. I have a husband I adore, children who are precious to me, parents who have been beyond good to me and enabled me to be far more available to my children than most working moms, but there are areas of my life where I find myself "existing" rather than truly living my dreams because at 19 I was more interested in hanging out and going to the beach than I was in getting an education and broadening my horizon of opportunity. And it doesn't help that my husband and I pretty much chose that road together. He lives with the choice of a 15-year-old to drop out of high school and I live with the choice of a 19-year old to drop out of college.

That thought weighs on me these days also as I am the mother of a teenager, knowing my son is only years, theoretically moments, away from being in the same situation, making decisions now he will have to live out 25 year from now and beyond. Can I just say it? As smart as my Jacob is, he's not equipped to make those kinds of decisions... and yet the power is in his hands.

It takes me back to that scripture from Proverbs, but I'd like to share a different translation with you, along with the second half of the verse. This is from the New Century Version, a more literal and contemporary translation. It says, "Where there is no word from God, people are uncontrolled, but those who obey what they have been taught are happy."

Oddly, this translation offers me hope in what in some ways seems rather hopeless.

Someone told me that Nick Adenhart was a Christian. I don't actually know that for certain, but I do know his best friend on the team, Dustin Mosely, has repeatedly proclaimed Christ publicly. It makes me wonder if it couldn't be so. Perhaps his drive and purposefulness in the way he lived his life was birthed out of a personal faith in Jesus Christ. It is certainly feasible.

I also look back at 19-year-old me, and 15-year-old Neal, and I know for certain that we had no revelation in that season of our lives, because we had no relationship with Christ at that time. I look at my 15-year-old son and am thankful that that isn't the case for him. Although I see (at times profoundly) the typical youthful foolishness in him, I also know that he has a conviction outside of himself and knows he is not living his life for himself alone. He has a sense of accountability and responsibility to his Creator that I did not have at that age. I have hope that it will help guide him through his life, and that perhaps he will be more strategic in his decision making process in these most powerful days.

I also have other "situations" going on around me that have brought a lot of this to the forefront of my mind. I am praying daily as I watch people I love and care about making decisions under the deception that they won't have catastrophic effects on themselves and others around them. I find myself somehow caught in the crossfires of some of these situations knowing that even for me there has been a cost. In some of them even if the one wielding the power should turn back, in all likelihood what I have lost will remain so. And even though my greatest concern is for other innocents in the circumstance more than for myself, it doesn't change the fact that loss hurts, and grief remains.

Decisions, decisions. We make thousands of them a day, everything from what time to get out of bed, what to have for breakfast, to what I am going to do with the rest of my life. What to do if one has made life choices with less strategy than put into deciding over a cereal choice? Hmmm, another decision to be made. Too much thought could overwhelm you, not enough might send you further down a dark and directionless road.

Where is the hope? Alas, back to the second half of the verse... "but those who obey what they have been taught are happy."

Even as I consider choices poorly made, I can have hope that they will not have to bear the same weight as a poor choice. I can start from here, where I am now and make the decision to live my life in obedience, and the Lord will bring happiness into my circumstance.

Kingdom math, my favorite... godly teaching + obedience = happiness.

From this point forward, I can make the decision to find the revelation of God. Even the young man who cost the lives of three has this hope. He can make a change and a turning point to live for Christ, and potentially bring some good outof tragedy. I pray for him that he does. For me, God's guidance and direction and offer hope, that even as I walk out the decisions of that 19-year-old girl, there can be blessing in any missteps I made, even any foolishness I chose. (Romans 8:28, all things.)

This brings to my mind a favorite scripture of mine.

Psalms 37:23-24 says, "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with His hand."

That's me. I'm the "good man." Not in the humanistic sense of a decent person by comparison, because that really doesn't apply. I know my righteousness is as filthy rags, but I have achieved my "goodness" through faith in Christ. And because I have invested my faith in Him, He has invested His goodness in me. (That's one of the best Kingdom Math solutions of all!) So because of that wonderful truth, I know that even those steps in my life that I feel like I backed into, or even stumbled into are all covered under His grace.

My apparent randomness is in line with His sovereign order. Though my decisions may have caused me to fall, I am caught and not landing on my face, utterly cast down, because all the while I am held onto by my Creator, who has given my life purpose and hope. I am protected, not only from my own decisions, but also from the decisions of others who can and do affect me.

Truly I need to stop here, because even as I begin to wrap my mind around His goodness and His grace, and the sovereignty behind the circumstance, the reality beyond apparent randomness, my brain starts to hurt again.

So I will close with this, an email that my mom sent me yesterday that sort of sums it up. It was a story of a very old retired pastor, some 96-years-old, who was asked to come and speak to a congregation. They asked him to share the most profound truth he had learned in all his years of serving the Lord. Very old, slowly moving, slowly speaking, he made his way before the congregation to impart the truth he believed to be the most definitive in all his days. This is what he shared.

Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. All little ones to Him belong, though they are weak, He is strong. Yes Jesus loves me, yes Jesus loves me, Yes Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was blessed by reading this...and am comfort by the reassuring words of steps have been ordered by Him...also I was reminded about strategy and set the goal in this decision we are facing. Thank you for sharing this!!!!! The LORD richly bless you for sharing His wisdom..