Decisive

I am an indecisive person when it comes to what restaurant to eat at. I like food — a lot. So when you give me twelve awesome choices, I have no hope of picking just one. So usually I leave the decision of where to eat with someone who has a stronger opinion.

And I feel, oddly enough, like my normal indecision when it comes to eating establishments has started creeping into other areas of my life. I haven’t really struggled with indecisiveness previously. Usually I can make a choice and stick to it fairly well, but recently? Not so much. I don’t know if I’m just tired. Or if I’m burned out. Or if I’m just so overwhelmed with life, the universe and everything that I can’t make a decision.

Either way, though, it has to stop. Because being indecisive is dangerous. It’s unstable and it can be damaging, not only to myself but to people around me.

Joshua recognized this in the Old Testament when he had completed his task of leading the Children of Israel into the Promised Land. At the end of his story is where today’s verse comes from.

Joshua 24:15

15 But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”
 
Joshua announced to the whole population of Israel that he and his family would serve God. Along with that, he told them pretty much that he didn’t care what they did. They just needed to choose to do something.
 
Joshua recognized the danger of indecisiveness. It’s dangerous because it keeps us unsteady. We’re not committed to anything. We have no solid ground to fall back on when we are tested because we’ve never given our whole heart to anything.
 
Christians today have one foot in the world and one foot in the Bible. We’re straddling the fence and we think it’s okay.
 
Well, it’s not.
 
Whatever we choose, we need to choose to do it with our whole heart and our whole mind and all our strength because everything we do will be half hearted until we make that final decision.  And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to hand God something half hearted.
 
I have chosen to follow God. So I need to follow Him with everything I have, not just when it feels right and not just when I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I need to do the things He’s commanded me to do whether I can see the good rewards at the end of the path or not. And I don’t just need to walk the path He’s laid out before me. I need to run it. I need to be committed to it. And when the road gets rough and the path takes me up the side of a mountain, I need to keep going.
 
It takes discipline and devotion and dedication . . . . and faith.
 
I am as guilty as anyone of falling prey to the thought that I have enough time to live for myself. I have been running so hard for so long that taking a break and stepping back for a while was necessary — but I think I’ve rested long enough. And now I have to get up and get back into the game.
 
And like Romans 13:12 says, the night is nearly over and the day is coming. So I need to get my perspective straight and get over myself because life isn’t going to continue like this forever. There’s a change in the wind — and in the earth for those of us living in the Wichita, Kansas area.
 
God chose to put me where (and when) He put me for a reason. And I chose to follow Him. So I need to follow Him. Break time’s over. Like the old song says, “I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back.”

What to do when your air conditioner gives up the ghost

Life is about making choices. We choose what to eat for breakfast. We choose what clothes we wear. We choose–to a certain extent–what kind of job we work. We choose what music to listen to, what kind of car to drive, what kind of house to live in. Life is about making choices and dealing with the consequences of those choices, whether they be positive or negative.

For example, I had a choice of where to sleep in my house last night. I got home around Midnight, and generally when I get home that late, I sleep on the first level because the house air conditioner cools the place down very well. The second level of my 100-year-old farmhouse has window a/c units that work well but you have to give them a headstart.

It was 90 degrees in the house when I got home at Midnight. So I turned on my air conditioning, took a shower, and then went to bed. I woke up at 2 a.m. covered in sweat and realized . . . the house air conditioner wasn’t working. It was 90 degrees on the first floor. It was 90 degrees in my basement. And it was 94 degrees in my bedroom on the second floor. I’m not sure why the house air conditioner isn’t working, but it would figure that it would break just before I leave the country on Saturday. =) It’s probably all these weeks of 100+ temperatures. It finally just gave up the ghost.

I tried sleeping in the basement, but it was just as hot and I didn’t have a fan going. So I chose to go up to the second floor, turn on my room a/c unit and just wait for it to cool down. I actually got a pretty good night’s sleep (it is currently 83 in my bedroom, where I am parked in front of the a/c unit composing this blog this morning).

I could have chosen to remain on the first floor. I acclimate fairly quickly and I probably could have gotten to sleep, but I would have been a terrible sweaty mess for work today. So I chose to be incredibly uncomfortable for about half an hour in my room while it was cooling down and managed to get a good night’s sleep without drenching myself in sweat.

As I was drifting off to sleep last night, I thought about this too. I had a choice even after I had made my choice. I could have laid in my hot bed in my hot room listening to the a/c unit chugging away doing its darnedest to cool this place down and could have been upset. I could have felt sorry for myself and I could have focused on how unfair it is to lose my air conditioner in the middle of the summer and on how inconvenient it was for me to have to wander around my house like someone who doesn’t know where they’re going to sleep. But I decided that feeling that way was a waste of time. I was in my room (even though it was hot), in my comfortable bed (even though it was hot), and I had an air conditioner. And it was working. Even if it were a tad inconvenient, I had an option that involved sleeping in an air conditioned room. So I chose to be thankful instead.

The verse today is also about making a choice.

Psalm 119:30

30 I have chosen to be faithful;
I have determined to live by your regulations.

Faith is a choice. Trusting Christ to save you from your sins is a one-time decision, but trusting that God knows what He’s doing with your life even when none of it makes sense is a choice I have to make almost every hour of every day.

We can either choose to trust that God is good and that He knows what He’s doing and that He always keeps His promises. Or we can choose to believe that He isn’t and He doesn’t and try to do our own thing. There’s no inbetween choice. Those are the only options. And the consequences from that choice determine what kind of a life you’re going to lead.

If you do your own thing and try to figure life out on your own, you’ll never have peace and life will never make sense. Because life is too big for us to understand. The big picture of our existence is too broad and too detailed and too complex for us to grasp. Our lives are all tiny pieces of a giant mosaic that fit together beautifully, but we are too small to see the whole picture.

But God can see everything. He can see how my life fits into the grand scheme of His plan. And instead of me flailing and floundering trying to understand life on my terms, I choose to just trust Him.

And by choosing to remain faithful to Him, by choosing to live by the Bible, by choosing to live like Christ, I will have a life that God can bless. Abundantly.

And I can speak from experience because it’s true. God has given me everything I need and just about everything I’ve ever wanted. I’ve never lacked for anything, even during the years when I didn’t know how I was going to afford food. Even during the time when I could barely make it paycheck to paycheck, God was faithful me. And now at this point in my life, I couldn’t ask for anything more. Although, a functioning air conditioner for the whole house would be phenomenal . . . . but until we get it fixed, maybe I can start a sauna . . . . It’s all good. Because I have chosen to trust God even in circumstances that seem unfair.

And besides, I’m leaving for Guatemala on Saturday so I’ll just consider this training. I have already gotten used to 106 and 110 degree temperatures outside. Now I can get used to the same temperatures inside.

Make the choice to trust God. Choose to live a life He can bless. Choose to believe He knows what He’s doing. And that way, even though life may not be happy, you can still be peachy.

I’ve heard of “Drink Responsibly” but “Help Responsibly” is a new one on me

I am an enabler. I am never happier than when I can be in the background, helping someone accomplish something great from the sidelines. I think that may be one of the reasons I love stage managing so much.

Stage managing is my favorite part of theater. Directing is too much pressure. Acting is too visible. Stage managing, for me, is the happy medium where you can support both director and actors, making sure they all have what they need to do their job the best they possibly can.

I love to help people. And I know a lot of other people like that too. There’s something cathartic, I think, in serving other people. It gets your focus off yourself and reminds you how blessed you are. And, besides that, it’s just fun. And it’s even more fun if you can help people in a group. But there’s one thing that those of us who like to help people need to remember. And the Bible verse for today made me think of it.

Romans 15:2

2 We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord.

 We need to make sure that we’re helping other people to do what is right.

For example, say someone asks me to help them write a research paper for a class. I love to do things like that. I love helping people tweak their papers, and most of the time I try to explain why I edit things the way I do so they will know how to edit better in the future. But when it comes time for me to help this person with their paper, they actually want me to write the whole paper for them. Well . . . I love to write . . . . and I love to help people . . . . and I’m pretty positive I could still right a rockin’ awesome research paper even though I’ve been out of high school for ten years now (yikes! really? wow!). But if I wrote the paper for this person, would that be the right thing?

No. It wouldn’t. Part of being in school is learning how to complete assignments on your own. If I wrote the entire paper for this person, they would never learn that lesson.

Here’s where the trouble comes for me.

I hate telling people no. I hate disappointing people. I hate letting people down. And, inevitably, that’s what happens when people ask me to do things like this for them. But as much as I want to help people, I have to remember that even though my intentions are the best, human nature still plays a part in this drama called life.

People are lazy. It’s just a fact of life. And everyone suffers from it. And if you get a person like me who likes to help other people, I will willingly sacrifice time and effort to help a lazy person succeed without ever having to struggle. Sometimes helping people do the right thing is telling them that I won’t help them do what they’ve asked me to do.

This is definitely something I need to work on because it’s something I truly struggle with. I have such a weakness for people who need help. And many times I think I have helped people get out of situations God was using to teach them something. And when I do that, I have put myself direction between that person who is being chastised and God, and that is not a place I want to be. Because at that point, I have taken it on myself to tell God He is being unfair. Wow. That is such a bad idea . . . . such a bad place to be . . .

So. How do you know when to help someone and when not to? Well . . . if someone is broken down on the side of road and needs help changing a tire in 110-degree weather . . . . stop and help them. But if someone needs help buying a book for school because they’ve spent all their money on clothes . . . don’t. Or if you know you’ve helped this person with the same thing previously and haven’t seen them accept responsibility for it, don’t help them.

Do you see the difference?

Helping people who want to help themselves is right. Helping people who want you to do all the work for them is a very bad idea.

Helping people is good. It’s not only good; it’s a commandment. And it’s fun. But we have to make sure we’re helping people do the right thing. Because if we are consciously enabling people to do wrong, to live a life that isn’t pleasing to God, we will be the ones responsible. Yes, the person who is actually making the choices will be responsible for his or her own actions. But aren’t we responsible for our choices too? And if we know we’re helping people do the wrong thing, don’t we bear some of the burden too?

“Good” Christians need God too

Are there any “good” Christians out there? Would you agree that when you’re a “good” Christian and you follow the rules generally and try your best to read your Bible every morning that sometimes it’s easy to forget that you don’t have it all together?

Maybe it’s just me, but I forget sometimes. That’s why I appreciate verses like Psalm 139:23-34.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
      test me and know my anxious thoughts.
 24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
      and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

When we’re doing what we think is right or living the way we think we’re supposed to, it’s a good thing to ask God to search our hearts to make sure that what we’re seeking is what He really desires for us.

I don’t know about anyone else, but my heart is a scary thing. It doesn’t always know what it wants. It rarely makes a decision and usually just leads me in circles. And if it ever does make up its mind about something, it usually isn’t something that God would have me do.

I know I’ve been struggling with a lot of choices and decisions recently, and my heart would have me drop everything and do what I want to do. But I don’t think that’s what God wants.

So I need God to look at my life, to look at my heart, and I need Him to tell me what I should do. I think I already have an answer, but I don’t want it to be my answer. I need it to be His. I want Him to look at me and tell me what needs to change in my life.

I get so used to being a “good” Christian that sometimes I forget that I’m not perfect. I mean, it’s not that I forget it. I know I’m not perfect, but it’s easy to fall back on my own wisdom or even my own interpretation of Scripture as truth. And just because I interpret Scripture some way doesn’t make it truth. Doesn’t even make it right. I need God to show me what is right and how to live and how to make decisions. I need Him to show me the areas of my life that need to change or disappear because I’m blind to them.

I guess the bottom line this morning is that I need God. I need to learn to be humble about things like this. To ask Him to look into who I am and be willing to change what He tells me to change. Because if I can do that, He’ll take me down the path He wants me on. And whatever He wants out of my life isn’t good for me anyway.

I need Him more than anything else in my life. With Him, my life make sense. It has purpose. Even when everything feels like it’s falling apart, I know it really isn’t because I have Him.