Posts Tagged ‘Decisions’

FullSizeRenderRecently, I found myself trying to give a close friend some sound advice. His dilemma was a tough one.  A journey that I had not yet navigated through myself.  Without much direction and certainly no clear path, how would he ascend the daunting mountain of an obstacle that lay ahead of him?  He was searching for answers and unfortunately, I had none. In my head I started praying and I asked God to bring me some supernatural wisdom to share with my friend in need. Instead of honing in on an epiphany that I could reveal to my friend, I started reaching for some of the colloquial phrases that we probably find surfacing way too often, at least I do. Phrases like “The million mile march starts with the first step”, or “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

I mean, seriously….who thought of these phrases anyway? Who do we know that has marched even close to the tune of a million miles? And an African elephant is a 12,000 pound creature. The average human eats only about 4 pounds worth of food each day. I’m no rocket scientist, but that sounds to me like we’re talking about 3,000 days’ worth of eating elephants. That’s over 8 years!  In the midst of my friend’s completely overwhelming situation, where life seems too tough and almost hopeless all together, here I am wanting to offer up metaphorical advice on eating elephants. Wow.

I don’t really feel like I’m going out on much of a limb hear, but I believe every single person reading this blog can think back to a similar time in their lives – where this life just feels downright overwhelming and every single problem / solution seems hopeless at best. I would even dare to say that a lot of us, if we’re being completely honest, feel that this is describing the season that we are currently in. Many of us have embarked on new journeys and don’t know the destination, or even where to start. Maybe some of us have found ourselves in a situation where we are dissatisfied with a series of decisions we’ve made and we do not even know where to go from here.  It could be that financial struggles are looming over our heads. Maybe relationships that we’ve been fighting for are crumbling beneath our fingertips.  Maybe illness and disease are plaguing loved ones and we feel that we’re at the end of our rope praying for healing. Whatever the giant obstacle we are facing, we just feel stuck. Staring into the face of what feels like a hopeless situation, with no end in sight….is a scary place to be!  If you have ever been here, or maybe you’re here now, the only natural question to ask ourselves is, “What next? Where do I go from here?”

I found myself thinking about my friend’s situation in my quiet time. I found myself reflecting the great obstacles in my own life.  As I the wheels in my head turned, I opened up the word and I ran across a story in the Bible that really shed some light on everything. The story, in John 5:1-15 (read it, it’s good!), recounts the tale of a man who was in dire circumstances. The story tells of a disabled man who was trying to make his way down to a pool of water called Bethesda. You see, this particular pool of water was rumored to have healing powers. The blind, lame and paralyzed came from all over to dip themselves in the pool, searching for some end to their ailments and a new start to the rest of their life.  This particular man in the story had been disabled for 38 years. Can you imagine the size of the elephant this guy was facing? The frustrations and questions he must have had….searching for healing and answers, not knowing what to do next.  I wonder if his buddies ever chimed in, “You know how to eat an elephant, right”?

As the man tries to make it to the pool with no avail, the story pans over to Jesus’ point of view. Jesus asks the man, “Do you want to get well”? Um… let’s stop right here. Why does Jesus ask this guys that question? Of course he wants to get well! He’s been crippled for 38 years.  I’m sure he’s tried everything at this point. The disabled man looks at Jesus and more or less says, “I’m trying man.” “Every time I’m about to try to get in the pool and get healed, someone else goes down ahead of me and I’m left in the same boat. The same situation where I left off.” I can almost feel his pain. The years of heartbreak and disappoint. He’s found himself in the same situation he’s been in since he can remember, trying to do everything in his power and finding himself catching the short end of the stick once again.

Jesus response to the man blows my mind. He tells him “Get up. Pick up your mat and walk”. Wait…that seems too easy. You just want him to pick up his mat and walk? What about all of the struggles he’s had Jesus? What about all of the problems that have been building up over the past 38 years Jesus? The solution is just for him to pick up his mat and walk? ….and then it hit me. In the face of an obstacle that seems bigger than life and impossible to tackle, Jesus told the man to get up. With an elephant in his way, a life that had been getting the best of him, a hopeless situation where there was no end in sight, Jesus told the man to take a bite. He gave him one simple command. Get up. Granted, this simple command seemed like an impossible task, but the man trusted in Christ. He trusted his next step in the hands of the one true healer and redeemer. The one who holds eternity in the palm of his hand. The one who loves us more than we can ever imagine and wants to give us life to the fullest. He listened to Jesus.  He put his faith in the one simple instruction Jesus gave and then responded.

What giants are you facing in your life? What hopeless situation have you been facing and trying to resolve, but you’ve found no relief? Give it to Jesus. Get in the word and seek him with all of your heart. Ask him what your next step should be and listen. No matter how simple, how impossible, how crazy, trust him and he will blow your mind! I trust that in this season of life he’s giving us all a next step, even if it is be patient and wait. Take the first bite. Trust him with your next move and then the one after that.  One day at a time, let the Creator of the Universe who has gone before make our path straight. God promises that He will be a lamp unto our path if we seek Him.  We might not be able to see the end in sight, but this story offers hope and encouragement to faithfully trust in His goodness and take the next step!

 

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.”

Psalm 16:9

Decisions3“There can come a time in the process of God leading you out of your life of sin and rebellion and into his perfect plan and purpose for your life when you look up and see something that you thought you had already defeated closing in on you with more force than ever before. It makes you question whether you ever should have left the place you were to begin with.  If you have never experienced that then you have never done anything by faith.  And if you have never experienced that then maybe it is because the enemy doesn’t need to chase you….because he has you right where he wants you. It is actually easier to live, in some senses, in the predictability of slavery than in the uncertainty of freedom.”

Think about what is being said in the above quote by Steven Furtick. There are moments in life where you can feel God tugging at your heart and trying to lead you down the right path. But it is never as simple as just following that feeling of what you know is right. When God is trying to lead you down His path there are so many things that try to pull you back. Maybe in college you partied, drank, and were living a life you wouldn’t be too proud to tell your parents about. Maybe that is the life you are living right now. You want to change, but your friends still expect the “old” you. So when you are with them you continue to act like your old self because of those expectations. Maybe you are taking things too far with your girlfriend and you feel like it’s a one-way street you can’t turn around on. Be upfront with her about the life you want to live. Think about the big picture of life and where you want to be in the future. Are the decisions you are making right now lining up with the future expectations of your life?

Where are you looking to find your identity? Maybe you are looking in two different places depending on your current situation. When you are at church or at home with your family you are pleasing God, but when you hang out with certain friends you choose to please man. One important thing to know is…you cannot please both man and God…so you need to make a decision. If you continue to straddle the fence then the enemy has you right where he wants you.

Sometimes just thinking about having those conversations with your friends causes you to continue down the same path. Be upfront with your friends about who you are and what you believe in. Stand for something! If you do not stand for anything, you will fall for everything. Yes…there will be tough conversations, but that is part of growing as a man or women. You can’t keep avoiding what you know is right…that usually has a rough ending and the conversations will be even tougher at that point. Start living a life that you can be proud to tell people about. Having these conversations with your friends and girlfriends will only make your friendships stronger and more meaningful. It is one thing to have a drinking buddy, but it is a whole other story when someone is willing to take on life with you. The road is not going to be easy. You will continually be tempted to go back to things you were doing before. You will wonder if it was even worth it to give up those things. “You already messed up once…what will one more time do?” Thoughts like that will test your faith every single day. That is why it is important to have friends who are with you on this journey…through the good and the bad.

My grandfather once told me this, “When you look back on the journey of life it all comes down to decision making. There are plenty of very smart people that make poor decisions and it negatively impacts their life and many times dilutes or completely negates years of diligence and effort leading up to that point.” In a nutshell, good decision making is a tough and critical component of life. A lot of you reading this are at an age where you will have more and more life choices to make—and they just keep coming. When you come to these points in your life and you have a decision to make…know that good, thought-out, Christ centered decision making builds on itself.

God doesn’t need you to clean up before you present yourself to Him. He wants you just as you are.

What is the biggest decision you have made in your life?