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Posts Tagged ‘decisions’

When prisoner Paul was on his way to Rome by sea, he warned the ship’s pilot that a storm was coming. But on the day they started out, there was just a “gentle south wind” and all seemed well. How often do we start out in a gentle wind only to be shocked by a windy reversal?

Acts 27:14-15
Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the “northeaster,” swept down from the island. The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we [the ship that was carrying Paul to Rome] gave way to it and were driven along.

I have had wind on the mind all week. It’s been really windy in our area, so much so that we lost two huge Beech trees that broke off at the midway point in our back yard. What a mess. The wind has been almost a constant. This week I realized I don’t really like wind. I don’t like its relentlessness.

I’m not talking about a gentle breeze that cools the skin on a hot day or a even a a few gusts that come and go. I mean wind that bends the trees and jangles the heavy wind chimes outside my window.

In Paul’s story, the ship’s pilot was so sure that light wind was a good omen. And I’m certain he was well seasoned and knew the signs and ways of the sea. And yet, the storm came all the same. How many times have I set out on ventures that appeared to be smooth sailing on the surface but turned into gale force winds unexpectedly.

I have based many a decision on outward signs alone. I did not seek the unseen forces that can only be found through prayer and meditation. I’m not just talking about small decisions, but big ones like getting married, getting divorced, moving to New York, leaving New York, getting married again, starting a new job, changing jobs, and so forth. At the outset, each and every choice seemed reasonable and appropriate at the time, but I cannot say those decisions were made with much prayer. In fact, I confess the real praying didn’t start in earnest until the wind start really blowing.

What happens then? Honestly, once the big winds start, there is rarely anything can be done. In Paul’s day, they could no longer control or steer the ship and so they “gave way to it.”

I have tried battling the winds of some of my decisions. But the truth is, sometimes we just need to let go. Give the ship to God and wait for the storm to settle. Then, and only then, can we really assess what happened or why. But more importantly, only then can we ask God to show us the next step.

This is not unlike Rescue. We must ride the circumstances to some degree until some calm comes to the moment.

For a season, I tried to teach myself to enjoy roller coasters. They are basically harmless and yet their appeal is in calling forth some basic fears of falling, heights, and speed (very windy!). There was a roller coaster (one of those “mouse” types) that just about did me in as the individual cars rounded corners with the front end hanging off the edge. I pretty sure I compressed my son’s hand into a pancake. But I couldn’t stop the experience in the middle. I couldn’t get off the roller coaster. I had to ride it to the end. I survived. And then I made some new decisions. I figured out that I don’t need to go that way. I can skip that roller coaster next time.

There is one other thing that can help in a stormy, windy situation: to be grounded in a God relationship beforehand. Even if I screw up and don’t specifically prepare my soul for my next storm, I know I can trust in the God who has been carrying me through regular days up until then.

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Luke 10:41-42
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Not every decision we make is between good and evil. Sometimes, we must choose between good and better. These decisions are by far the more difficult ones. These decisions take discernment, wisdom, and trust. I know the trap for me has been to “do it all” and now, I realize that is the result of not “choosing the better part.” I don’t want to miss anything. I can see this habit even in the small things of life like packing for a trip and since I can’t decide what I will wear, I take it all, putting off that decision until later. Today, I know, there will be decisions before me and I ask God, right now, guide me, that I might choose well, for choose I must.

For more about Mary and Martha and the better part, see Wisdom Seekers discussions on the book, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver.

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