Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Decisions - with Outcomes

There are few things that are more certain in life than change. Whether it brings growth is a different matter – but change is the constant. Many changes are beyond our managing – things happen and it is our place to react or respond with whatever we have in us at the moment. The more preparation of soul and character we have done before the change, the greater the likelihood that our response will redeem the change. Without that preparation, our reaction may be less beneficial.
But there are changes that we can manage, as well. Things that we decide on and that we can shape as the time draws near. Transitions can be eased with planning and careful, prayerful thought. Not every question can be answered, but enough of them can be to reduce the chaos of what comes next. The launch into something new is frightening enough under any circumstances – the fear can be reduced by choosing not to be surprised. And by making choices.
As we make progress in spiritual maturity, the black and white, right or wrong, kinds of decisions lessen and we are increasingly left with decisions that have no right or wrong answer. We move away from punishment for having made wrong choices to an adult way of life in which there is no right or wrong choice on many issues – but there are outcomes – outcomes wrapped up in the choice itself. The choice is not between right or wrong, and may not even be a matter of better or best. And we have to choose without knowing all the consequences of every action.
And just at that moment, it seems, God removes his guidance and instead gives us wisdom to choose. It is as if He is saying, “Whatever you choose is fine. I will be with you in any event. What do you want to do?” To that extent, managing decisions becomes a matter of knowing our own heart – knowing our own desires. We do not have to worry about pleasing God with our choice – He is already pleased with us. Now what is at stake is whether we are willing to make a certain choice without knowing all the outcomes. That requires courage and confidence. In truth, either outcome is acceptable in most cases. The only question is which outcome do we want to live with? And in it all, we know that God will be with us and give us capacity for our choices.
That is why James instructs us, when in seasons of doubt, to ask for wisdom. That is what we do in these times of transition. Then, we choose. And then, we live!


  1. I'd say the hardest part in the past has always been not knowing the outcome, but my heart echoes with God still being pleased with me. I find the adventure to be so much more exciting when faith and trust are involved rather than fear and doubt.

    And how perfectly timed this is for my future bride and me, while we make plans in which we are clueless as to how things will turn out. But we're following our desires, and praying they resound with the desires of our Father.

  2. This reminds me of a wise Vanguard professor who once told me to think of it like this: you are a kid, playing around in the back yard of a big home. Father God is in the home, being pleased that you are in the back yard and playing. He is not concerned so much whether you choose to play on the swing set or the sandbox (I.e. some of the decisions that we think could be right or wrong OR it's "gods will that you do this or that")

  3. Thanks for this Bill...a timely reminder!