Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Too Many Options?
By Micky Wolf
Had an epiphany in recent days which still lingers with me. It has to do with God trying to get my attention as I discern what is going on in my heart and soul in order to follow His next step for me. This whole experience is continuing to unfold. Maybe you can relate to what it feels like when God shines the light on something we didn’t realize existed in the first place.
The epiphany? Have been spending a lot of time trying to sort out the options (in this case, how to serve God and others) and suddenly realized the process had devolved into an exercise in rationalization—which can become another way to avoid moving at all! Please note: acknowledging this truth by no means suggests we are to avoid extended times of prayer or information gathering as helpful in understanding the Lord’s will in any given situation.
So, how did I begin to see where I had crossed over the fine line between thoughtful consideration and getting stuck in a relentless cycle of what ifs, maybes, and so forths?
…By comparing service opportunities as if I were at the market buying fresh produce. Nothing wrong with wanting quality fruits and vegetables—however, definitely an issue if half an hour passes and I’m still standing in front of the banana display. God has not called me to inspect each opportunity on the basis of which one looks, smells, or feels the best.
…By trying to choose based on which option will be the right one. Right for who? God? Me? It’s not about right or wrong. Finding myself in this situation usually means I may be trying to figure out which opportunity will be the ‘least messy or challenging’—for others and myself.
…By requesting (if ever so subtly) that God give me some sign or guarantee ahead of time that the choice I am making will have a successful outcome. Since when am I the one who determines what success means? We need only reflect on some of our more painful or unsettling life experiences to know those were the times when we were stretched and grew the most.
What is disordered about all of this?
There is usually enough truth in any rationalization to convince us on some level that we need to swallow it, hook, line, and logic. And therein lays the problem. If we choose to make knowledge and logical thinking the primary basis for the way we respond to God’s invitation to love and serve, we risk falling into the trap of rationalizing Christian service as simply another way to meet our own needs. And that is about as far as we can get from truly following the Lord’s will for our day-to-day choices and actions.
Comparison, wanting to be right, and requiring signs from God are all about me. Ouch. Put another way--I’m rather self-righteously expecting God to give me a reason for what I do—in His name, no less. It boils down to a bunch of intellectualizing hogwash I construct in order to try and take care of myself. Thankfully, being stuck on self-protection is not a permanent condition—at least as long as we have a breath in us.
If we call ourselves Christians we accept and understand it is about following after Him rather than the other way around. In the end, that is the single option which matters the most. It is also the one that will bear the most (good) fruit in the long run—in our lives and for those He calls us to serve.
Do I slip into comparison, of people or situations?
How do I feel about needing to be right?
Do I tend to make requests of God to give me a sign or guarantee?