Let me hear what God the Lord will speak.(Psalm 85:8)
Hearing God? A daring idea, some would say-presumptuous and even dangerous. But what if we were made for it? What if the human system simply will not function properly without it? There are good reasons to think it will not. The fine texture as well as the grand movements of life show the need. Is it not, in fact, more presumptuous and dangerous to undertake human existence without hearing God?
Among our loneliest moments, no doubt, is the time of decision. There the weight of our future life clamps down upon our hearts. Whatever comes from our choice will be our responsibility, our fault. Good things we have set our hearts on become real only as we choose them. But those things, or those yet undreamed of, may also be irretrievably lost if our choices are misguided. We may find ourselves stuck with failures and dreadful consequences that must be endured for a lifetime.
Then quickly there follows the time of second thoughts-and third, and fourth. Did I do a good and wise thing? Is it what God wanted? Is it what even I wanted? Can I live with the consequences? Will others think I am a fool? Is God still with me? Will He be with me even if it becomes clear that I made a wrong choice?
While we are young, we just do what we have to do or whatever turns us on. After collecting a few disasters, however, and learning that actions are forever, that opportunities seldom return and that consequences are relentless, we hungrily cry, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven!” More than reflecting a mere general concern for world affairs to conform to His will, our prayer expresses the burning need for God to be a constant guiding presence in our individual lives.
Perfect decisions come from perfect information. I think for most of us if we had all the information, our decisions would always be the right ones. However, the issue is that for the most part we only have bits of information and sometimes that is faulty. This frequently results in imperfect and poor decisions. How many times have we said after the fact, if I’d only known then what I know now, I would have made a different choice.
As we attempt to live in this new environment, the decisions to be made have few previously known basis. No one appears to have sufficient knowledge of how to respond to this crisis. It seems to range from-“Let’s return to the old norms of life and forget any sort of restrictions” to “life has permanently changed and we cannot ever go back to any of the old norms”.
Communities, families, churches, workplaces and nations are wrestling with these kinds of decisions. I hope you’re praying for the leaders who must make the decisions. None of them really know what we should do. I think about the challenge of social distancing and having an environment so people can work and provide a living for their families. Should we place ourselves in danger from the virus so we can pay our bills and eat or should we socially distance ourselves and not be able to pay our bills and eat? Should we go back to normal church gatherings or must we find new creative ways to continue the work of Jesus?
Hillary Scott produced a song a few years ago that talks about facing decisions that are beyond our control. In the song, she says that there are four important words to say, “Thy will be done.” These words cannot be just said in a light manner, out of frustration, or with a spirit of despair or resignation. They must be shouted with faith. We read that in the Garden of Gethsemane, that Jesus concluded His prayer with those words, “Nevertheless not my will but thine be done”. Those words took Him to the cross but they also destroyed the power of Satan and gave access to God for humanity. God’s will always results in the best decisions for us.
Now many of us like me have to spend time in prayer asking God to forgive our wrong choices and to graciously fix the mess we’ve made. What if we spent more time pre-decision inquiring what Gods will would be? In the beginning, I said that perfect decisions come from perfect information or knowledge. To my knowledge, God and God alone has perfect knowledge. Maybe we ought to consult Him?
Dr. John Thompson