Life is a series of decisions that are made on a daily, hourly and minute by minute basis. Some of those decisions are between what is right and wrong, good and bad, wise and unwise. But many of those decisions are more subtle. These subtle decisions can be between foolish and prudent, expedient and convenient, lazy and diligent, and even timely and untimely. With each decision comes a number of possible outcomes, some good and some bad. It is possible to make a wrong or bad decision and have a good outcome. It is also possible to make a good or right decision and have a bad outcome. So what is the point? What good are all of the decisions?
As a believer, a redeemed child of God, I have learned that the decisions we face serve four primary purposes. First, so that we learn the truth contained in the paragraph above. Second, so that we learn that the consequences of every decision we make belong to us individually. My decisions may affect others, but I am responsible for them. Third, that we learn that God is totally aware of the decisions we make and the consequences of those decisions before they are even made…and that He loves us (me) regardless. Fourth, that we learn to make better future decisions through the process of living out the consequences of past and current ones. Let me unpack this a little.
The first lesson is easy, but if you don’t get it, read the first paragraph over and over until you do. The second lesson is a little harder. Our tendency is to take credit for decisions with good outcomes. We don’t always brag about them outwardly, but inwardly we pat ourselves on the back. We deserve to get some of the credit, but the real reward for making decisions that end up with good outcomes is more than just a pat on the back. On the other hand, we tend to look for someone or something to blame for the decisions we make that end up with bad outcomes. Blaming someone else or something else may make us feel better at the time but it keeps us from a special reward that is hidden in the process. That reward is the discovery that no one can “make” us do anything, we always have a choice to make in every matter.
Whether we realize it or not, our God is sovereign. So nothing we do catches him by surprise. He is always guiding us to make decisions with His truth and “His-self” in the forefront. As His children He is always with us regardless of situation, consequence or circumstance. If He loved us (me) enough to send Christ while we were still sinners so that we could become His children, then He will always love us (me) as we walk through life as His child…regardless of the outcomes of our decisions. God’s focus is not to get our lives right but rather to get our relationship with Him right. Life is not about never making a bad decision. It is about knowing that God is with me no matter what the circumstances or outcomes may be. And He always loves being with me!
Finally, since God loves us and enjoys being with us, He also wants to see us full of His joy. As a father He wants to give us good gifts, and He loves it when we get excited about those gifts. When I plan and prepare a special gift for my child, I really love it when they are excited to open and experience that gift. Father is the same way. When we make decisions with His truth and “His-self” in the forefront, it is like unwrapping a gift that He has specially prepared. But listen carefully: the consequence or outcome is not the gift. The gift is the smile we see on His face. He has made a way for us that is good and He revels in us when we walk in that way. And when we don’t, He is lovingly redirecting us to that path. God’s love doesn’t wane when we make a bad decision, but His heart does occasionally break. Yet even with a broken heart, He walks with us through the consequences of that bad decision. The lesson to learn from both our good and bad decisions is that it is the process that matters most. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, New International Version)
By learning from the consequences of our past and current decisions we can learn that our focus should be more on the process of making that decision than on whether the decision is right or wrong. If we purpose to make all of our decisions with His truth and “His-self” in the forefront, we will have found the hidden gift in the decisions we face.