Note: You can find a review of the reflection exercise from Engage here.
We’ve all been there. Maybe it was on a date or just out with your friends. You load up in the car and then the discussion begins. Where do you want to go eat? I don’t know. Where do you want to go eat? I don’t know. Round and round the circle begins. Now the car is approaching the first stop. Still no one has made a decision. What started out cute now is turning a little tense. You have to figure out which lane to get in but you have no idea where you are going. Neither of you wants to impose on the other, but without some sense of decision you find yourself circling your city—not eating and soon not even enjoying the ride. More times than not you end up in an argument or at a restaurant that neither of you wants to eat at. Such is the subversive thief of indecision. It comes not in the front door but the side door and steals what could have been. And while most of us can get over a not so great meal, I wonder how many of us are circling streets with our lives? We’ve settled into a major or career or relationship not because of a sense of call or mission or priority but simply because it was what was available on the road of least resistance. And I guess that’s ok for a month or two or maybe even a year, but if we’re not careful it might become the way we live our lives.
So last night we started a conversation of sorts. We looked at the verge of decision and we started asking how our lives might not join the wasteland of potential that we saw in the lives of Rehoboam, Lot’s wife, the nameless would be disciple and almost in the life of even the great Moses. We came to one thought worked out into three challenges—challenges that help us over the verge of decision and onto the pathway of fullest potential. Today, I just wanted to take a minute to remind us of those. First the thought, “Sometimes the worst decision is indecision” or said in a slightly different light “Almost is not alright.” The life of great dream but no daring, great intention but no initiative, great concern but no commitment always ends up first in hesitation and then destruction. Not destruction chosen but destruction backed into. And so three challenges surfaced to nudge us in a different direction. Even if you are not facing a big decision right now these three challenges are great to keep at the front of your life so that the next time you do have to make a decision you can do so without the kind of hesitation that robs you of your fullest potential.
The Challenge of a Healthy Heart:
We saw last night that Lot’s wife hesitated at moment of decision because of a disconnect between her head and her heart. With her head she knew what was good and best but her heart was addicted to what was bad and evil. Even in the midst of destruction she could not stop longing for what was destroying her life. She knew what to do, she just didn’t want to do what she knew to do. And sadly her story is too familiar. Too many times for us too it’s the addictions of our hearts that sabotage our greatest dreams.
But the question you might be asking this morning is “How do I keep my heart healthy?” To be honest there is no one answer to this question. The answer is as different as each of us is from each other. See I believe healthy hearts can’t be made in a standardized process. We can’t put them through a universal assembly line and create them the way we make automobiles. But rather maybe they are created the way an artist makes a master piece—common themes and colors but each uniquely crafted. So here is my suggestion. There are some things that others through the ages have found helpful—Scripture, prayer, meditation, solitude, service, church, study, learning, etc. But more important than what we do is how we do it. See these things are not formulas but formations. Formations to help us understand who God is, who we are and what God’s intentions our realities have to do with each other. They are more conversation than constraints. At best they teach us how to feast and fast. At best they teach us that a collision of service and savoring are both vital to understanding what life is all about.
The Challenge of New Possibilities:
The nameless would-be disciple of Matthew 8 hesitated not because of his attachment to bad but because of his attachment to good. And what was good cost him what was best. For a lot of us too it will be not the bad but the good that stands in the way of God’s best for our lives. Too often to protect the good we know today we give up on the great that could be tomorrow. Richard Foster says it best, “We hold on so tightly to the good that we do know that we cannot receive the greater good that we do not know. God has to help us let go of our tiny visions in order to release the greater good He has for our lives.” But how do we do this? Again no easy answers. But let me offer one suggestion. Maybe its more about our life posture than it is our life plan. We have to posture our lives around the possibility that God might work or speak off the page. And we must posture our lives to be able to adjust and adapt quickly when He does. Lives and organizations that cannot reorient quickly too often become engines of the status quo. And the status quo may be good but it is never great.
The Challenge of Identity:
Maybe the greatest robbery of potential in our lives comes like it almost came for Moses. Not because of the dichotomy of our hearts and our hands or the good and the best but because of the dichotomy of who we see ourselves to be and who God sees us to be. We have failed before and we are not ready to hit that wall full speed again. So, we hesitate and recoil right before impact subversively sabotaging God’s best in our lives so at least we have an out if failure happens. As long as we don’t give ourselves fully we can’t fail fully. And if we can’t fail fully than we don’t have to deal with the possibility that we might be a failure. But maybe our struggle here comes once again because of perspective. See, God doesn’t squelch Moses’ fear here. He doesn’t give him a self-help pep talk. He simply tells Moses, “I am with you.” The challenge for Moses is to find his identity not in the accomplishment of good but in his acquaintance with God. See you and are not the sum total of what we accomplish. As Christians we know that life has to be more than the division of successes and failures. Rather, our identity is found in friendship—friendship with the God of the universe. The challenge of identity is the challenge to step into the circumstances of our life not looking for confidence from what we can accomplish but working from confidence because of who we are acquainted with.
So, there you go, I hope the thoughts and the challenges help nudge you over the edge of decision. So many of you have already expressed some of the incredible things that God has done in your life in the past twenty-four hours. I can’t wait to see what potential is released in our world through your life because On the Verge you made the right decision.