Do you ever get caught up in the whole “…but what do I DO??? Just tell me what to DO!!!” thing?
I got green-carded by Jesus last year. I didn’t know what to think about that and it’s taken nearly twelve months to reach a resolution and learn a retrospective lesson from my teen years.
Jesus opened up a bunch of doors in front of me. I’ve had several different opportunities to make choices, with lessons associated with each door. It’s a bizarre experience to be given options that are not normally available. I usually walk a very narrow road, it is just part and parcel of the relationship I have with God.
So I had the opportunity to explore each door and decide whether I wanted to cross through it into the space on the other side. Each had very different consequences and the impact on my life and my relationship with God would have been deeply impacted in very different ways. Through each very different door, there was an opportunity to have one or two things that have been on my heart fulfilled, but as I explored each option, the sacrifice of other things would have been significant. Each door held compromise. Compromise of myself, of my beliefs, of my values, of my relationship with God, possibly of my life.
There were several things that I noticed as I explored each of these options. One was that none of the decisions was necessarily wrong. Another was that each choice came down to my decision. God would honour me in my decision. What a terrible [dread-full, petrifying, harrowing] position to be in…
Father was giving me the opportunity to sift through a bunch of different things. Security, relationships, families, finances, networks; all laid out in front of me. In these situations, I needed to walk the journey of making decisions based on whether I was going to allow the desires of my heart to win, over decisions based on what I knew of the nature of God’s heart for me.
We all know this verse:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. Proverbs 3:5-7 (NIV)
In the long run, do I trust the long term view that God alone can see? Have I spent the time with Him so that I know when I see things that are less than His perfect plan? Whether that’s a job, or a business deal, or a relationship, or a house, or a pair of shoes, or a sandwich?
Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:25-26 (NIV)
Just because God leaves doors open, doesn't mean we should go through them. Hopefully, as we get better at our relationship with God, we will get better at discerning which doors are helpful, which ones are harmful, which ones are equally good as each other, and which ones are actually the right ones. Sometimes a choice that is perfectly amazing for one person is perfectly terrible for another person, for no accountable immediate reason other than God can see something in the future that we cannot see.
Sometimes, it just comes down to choice. This is the paradox we live with. God does love to give us good gifts, things that are in our hearts, things that we would naturally choose ourselves anyway!
Sometimes He needs us to say no to our natural choice and trust His judgement. This is in times when He can see the long term consequence of a decision and we can’t see that far ahead yet.
Sometimes, He is loving the process of making the decision with us and we can choose whatever we want, because He enjoys giving us things we enjoy. We’re sometimes the ones who make it terrible, by agonizing over it until it’s no longer fun… Oops!
seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33 (NIV)
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17 (NIV)
We need to do the work with God to develop our internal plumb-line. So that when these decision times come up, we have our foundations built and our values are actually values. Meaning that we really live our lives the way we say we want to live them, in the daylight and in the darkness.
When push comes to shove, it’s really important to be able to distill the essential nature of the life you are looking for, to be able to differentiate between the good and the necessary.
That’s what I had done wrong while I was a teenager. He had left a bunch of doors open, and I had chosen to wander in and out of all of them. They weren’t His choice, but He had left them open, because we all have choice- free will.
Back then, God and I hadn’t done the internal work yet for me to be able to deal with those choices, and the damage was pretty bad. If I had understood what was truly important to me, rather than being swayed by fun, or interesting, or needing to fill holes in my soul, the outcome might have been very different. This time, faced with similar doors, having done significant amounts of work on myself and my relationship with God, the outcome is very different, and my gratitude is palpable.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Mark 12:30 (NIV)
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a [bond]servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10 (NIV) [writer added]
Sometimes it’s helpful to look at ourselves in the mirror of truth and consider whether we would be willing to live a life of absolutes. Not for an opportunity to practice martyrdom, but instead to discern where our hearts lie.
If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. Romans 14:8 (NIV)
And this my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ- to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11 (NIV)
God Bless You Very Much
Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”
I say of the holy people who are in the land, “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”
Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.
I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods or take up their names on my lips.
Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Psalm 16 (NIV)