God’s not a Magic Eight Ball

When was the last time someone trusted you with a huge responsibility? What did you do? How did you react?

I frequently encounter situations where I end up having to make big, important decisions. But just the other day, one of those decisions that only come around in a blue moon landed in my lap.

I hate decisions like that because no matter how you choose, you always feel like you should have chosen something else. Maybe that’s just me.

So what do you do when you’re faced with a difficult choice? Or even a choice between two good options? How do you choose what’s best? Whether it’s a family decision or a personal decision or a professional decision, those big, scary, intimidating choices always come along when you least expect them. And if you don’t take them seriously, you could have major trouble in the future.

Is there a Magic Eight Ball somewhere you can shake that will tell you exactly what you’re supposed to do with yourself?

Well, not exactly.

8ballToday’s verses are James 1:5-8.

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

God is nothing like a Magic Eight Ball. Well, I say that. Maybe there are a few similarities. When you do get an answer, it’s usually terse. Go. Now. Stop. Wait. But God doesn’t just hand out answers because you ask for them. You don’t get to determine when God answers your questions or your prayers, and that’s frustrating.

When we’re faced with a choice we don’t know how to make, we’re instructed to ask for wisdom. The Bible is full of examples of people who asked God for guidance who received it, so God certainly is in the business of sharing His wisdom with us. But the thing about God’s wisdom is that He doesn’t just drop it in your skull because you ask for it. No. In most instances, you have to be willing to seek it—in the Bible.

The Bible is God’s Word to us, and it’s full of His wisdom for how to live and how to think and how to choose. Our culture—and even the church to a certain extent—has convinced us that the Bible is too complicated for Everyman to understand, and that’s a lie. Of course, the enemy wants us to think the Bible is too difficult to understand. The more we read it, the more we know how to live for God, and that’s the last thing our enemy wants.

But one thing is true. You can’t read the Bible by yourself and truly grasp what it means in your life. To truly understand what the Bible is saying, you need the Holy Spirit. You need God to reveal it to you.

That’s what you ask for. That’s how you ask for wisdom. You ask God to reveal it to you.

But then, notice what the rest of the verse says? Ask for wisdom, yes, but then you have to trust that wisdom comes from God. You have to believe that God is the one who gives it and no one else. Not politicians, your teachers, your parents, your pastor, your church, your friends, or yourself. God is the source of wisdom, and He’s the only source you can trust.

It can’t be that you’ll accept God’s wisdom for Problem A but not for Problem B, because you don’t like what God says about Problem B.

No.

We don’t get to pick and choose. We don’t get to tell God when He’s right or not. He’s either right all the time, or He’s not God.

And if you spend your time wavering between two differing opinions—because God’s wisdom is the opposite of what the world tells you is the truth—you’ll be unstable. You’ll be insecure. You’ll be uncertain. And you’ll make unwise decisions.

So do you need wisdom today? Ask for it. And then trust what God tells you through His Word, whether you like it or not.

One of you is God, and the other one isn’t. There’s no middle ground. And the more you try to make middle ground, the more unstable you’ll be. You won’t have time to make wise decisions. You’ll be too busy cleaning up the mess from all the foolish decisions you’ve made.

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The garage at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Living off balance will leave you with bloody knees

I like to think of myself as a coordinated person, even though that’s not actually the case. But, I mean, I’m not clumsy. Not usually, but something interesting happened last night as I was getting home. It had been a long day. I’d gotten done running the lyrics program for my church’s band rehearsal around 8pm, so that meant I was pulling into my driveway about 9pm. I hadn’t slept well the night before, and it had been a long day–a good day but long.

I got out of my car and grabbed my empty lunch bag, my coffee cup, and my backpack. I travel with a large backpack that has my life in it. All my tech. Everything. It’s pretty heavy, but I would rather haul one big bag around than to have to juggle three or four smaller ones. I went to shut the garage door and I looked up to see a wasp hovering directly over my head.

I don’t really worry about stinging insects, but they do tend to love getting stuck in my hair. So I twisted to push the garage door button as I stepped out onto the concrete pad in front of the garage (the only concrete on my whole five acres, really), and somehow my foot got crooked in my right shoe. They’re wedge looking clog things that you slide into. If it had been a flip-flop, it wouldn’t have been a problem, but twisting around when your dominant foot is wobbly will probably cause problems. And then factor in that I’ve got a coffee mug and a lunch bag in one hand, my keys in the other, and a fifteen-pound backpack. See where I’m going?

Yeah, I hit the ground. Hard. Landed square on both knees. Scraped up both of the tops of my feet, because the horrid shoes came off as I fell. But that was as far as it went. I got my coordination back fast enough to be able to sit up before I bashed my nose into the concrete. I had my more durable work trousers on, so they didn’t tear or anything, but I did bloody my knees up through the fabric. And one of the scrapes on my foot actually bled quite a bit. I was proud of myself. I don’t fall very often, but when I do, I want to do right!

But I got to thinking about the whole situation this morning. If I hadn’t been off balance, would I have fallen at all? I mean, I might have stumbled. But falling is a different level of being off balance. It meant there was something on me that got out of whack (the backpack) and when the wasp startled me I couldn’t compensate correctly because the off-balance weight threw me off. And I fell.

The garage at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

The garage at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are James 1:5-8.

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

This is one of the verses that came to mind when I thought about trying to live a balanced life. I’m sure that there are probably some better ones in Ecclesiastes, but (quite honestly) I didn’t have time this morning to go digging for them. And actually this wasn’t what I was planning to blog about. But if you read verse 8 in the Amplified Version, it comes off a little differently:

[For being as he is] a man of two minds (hesitating, dubious, irresolute), [he is] unstable and unreliable and uncertain about everything [he thinks, feels, decides].

Can you identify with being “of two minds”? Like you just can’t decide? That’s easy in our world today, at least in America. We have so many choices. We have so many options. There are so many roads you can take, how can you choose exactly which one is the right one? And that thinking can easily translate into our walk with God. Because if there are so many options in our “real” lives, surely God would offer us as many choices in our spiritual lives, right?

Well, that’s not always the case. But that’s a topic for another blog. The point here is that you can’t straddle the fence. A lot of people try, but eventually your life will come down to a point where you fall off. You can’t live for Christ and live for the world at the same time. You just can’t. Again, you can try, but you’ll reach a point in life where you’ll stumble and you’ll be so off balance you won’t be able to catch yourself, and then you’ll have worse injuries to show for it than two bloody, scraped up knees.

Make up your mind. That’s what I always think when I read this verse. Be decisive. Choose a side. Because if you don’t choose a side, you’re going to be unstable. If you don’t choose a side, you’re going to be a liability to both–or you’ll be trapped in the middle where you’ll never be effective because no one will able to trust you. Follow God or don’t. But whatever you do, do something real.

Our world suffers from a lack of decisiveness in general, so it’s easy to stand out if you have a made-up mind. God isn’t is a God of indecision. He’s a God of clarity, of certainty, of stability, and if you’ve really made up your mind to follow Him, those traits will eventually show in your own life. Because even when you aren’t clear or certain or stable, God is.