Chicken or beef?

Its February, not even fifty days into the New Year and Yours truly has reached the point of decision fatigue.

 

Aside from the frivolous decisions that present themselves in the morning, such as which socks to wear and what cereal to have for breakfast, we have to make decisions so frequently that we seldom give them a conscious thought.

 

‘Chicken or beef?’

 

‘Would you like fries and rice with your platter? Or just fries? Or just rice?’

 

‘Are we going to go for medical aid option A or B?’

 

‘Are we going to go left at the robot? Or go straight?’

 

‘Budget or straight?’

 

During the lean Obama years, I had a book by George W. Bush delivered online titled ‘Decision Points’. President Bush’s larger point was that at its core, the job of president was about making decisions.

 

The Bush corner of the bookcase

 

Bigger decisions about larger ethical dilemmas than many of us have ever had to face. As human beings living within God’s larger ethical framework, one of our core competencies should be about making good decisions, which by definition are decisions that are consistent with His will as he has revealed it.

 

Since I’ve crested the summit of 40 years old on the way to the next plateau, my decisions have become less reckless and more sensible. A childhood memory that made an impact on me is a song by Jiminy Cricket about playing it safe and making responsible decisions.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CpoFcguvDd8

 

Choices

 

I’ve been fortunate in some of the big decisions I’ve made. But I can’t take the credit. I’m sure God was in the midst of those decisions.

 

In Deuteronomy 30 before the nation enters the Promised Land, Moses presents the children of Israel with a binary choice:

 

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+30%3A15+-+20&version=NIV

 

Obedience and life, or disobedience and death. As I was reading Romans 6, I’ve seen what Paul is talking about in us choosing Christ.

 

Why do I say that? I recognize a similar theme to Moses’ choice presented before Israel; Paul writes that we are either slaves to sin or slaves to obedience (v.16, NIV)

 

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+6%3A+16+-+18&version=NIV

 

Slavery to obedience leads to righteousness and the slavery of sin leads to death. If you consider it, sin is our default position. Incremental, deliberate, sinful decisions lead to sin as a destination. Making no decision in respect of God and his demand for righteousness is a decision.

 

For the Christian, we make a decision for Christ. Paul writes that we ‘have come to obey from [our] heart’ the pattern of teaching that has ‘claimed [our] allegiance’. A primary decision to accept Christ and walk in his ways leads us to amend the decisions that we would have thoughtlessly made before.

 

Incremental, deliberate, sinful decisions lead to sin as a destination. A decision to accept Christ leads to Christ as our destiny

 

A pattern of teaching to correct our pattern of behaviour.

 

As my favourite commentary explains, “The idea is that God wants to shape us – first He melts us by the work of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. Then He pours us into His mould of truth – that form of doctrine and shapes us into His image.”

 

https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/romans-6/

 

Christians have been completely changed the way they made decisions from before. The default position of the sinful man is passive in that it doesn’t resist the ruts. The Christian chooses to follow Christ, and moulded into a new paradigm, having chosen Christ, the Christian then chooses to follow Christ daily.

 

In truth, I was able to choose Christ because the Father first chose me in eternity. There’s a whole separate and deeper discussion around predestination.

 

In a lonely apartment in London in 1999, in a state of relationship single-ness, I read Joshua’s choice offered to the children of Israel:

 

“…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…”

 

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Joshua+24%3A15&version=NIV

 

I have chosen and will continue to choose the One, True God. As for me and my household, we have chosen to serve Him.

 

Choosing to follow Christ means that I choose to follow Christ, the one decision follows the other. That’s how we are changed.

Fluexit

‘Janu-worry’ is typically a long month for the average South African, with the implicit pressures of shopping for Christmas and having to stretch the budget for essentially a month and a half, while spending twice as much.

 

Having returned from the States in mid-January, our family entered a two-week period where at overlapping times everyone was sick. When you’re sick you go to the doctor and klap your medical aid savings. Great, more money spent on consultations and meds.

 

Exhausted and with a giant frog in my throat one morning, I was thinking about the apostle James’ word to the Believer to consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds, because the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

 

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=James+1%3A2+-+5&version=NIV

 

Clearly I’m not the most spiritual sort, because I relayed to the Lord that I wasn’t focused so much on my faith pushing through a tough situation, but I just wanted it to be finished.

 

Paul prayed about his thorn in the flesh, that the Lord would remove it. As he wrote, the Lord didn’t remove it. The circumstances and reasons are different, and Paul is way more hard corps than me.

 

Without trying to sound like a tough guy, I don’t like trials, but if they have to happen, I’d much rather they happen to me than my loved ones. And when everyone needed doctors and specialists, I just wanted it to end. I don’t greet my troubles, I agonize over them. I don’t want to see them as practical, illuminating the tough kernel of faith that persists.

 

It’s not that I’m embarrassed or anything, its just a fact: my faith is not as strong as I would like.

 

Finally in the last few days, we reached what I call FLUEXIT. We gradually improved until a semblance of normality just a day before the United Kingdom experienced BREXIT.

Soldier meds, return to base!

Having reached this point now, it’s almost like my faith had the flu and I need to start it up again, back to the basics, re-entering a routine that had become disturbed…

 

…reading a daily verse, saying the Lord’s prayer. And it stands out to me:

 

“…do not lead us to hard testing…”

 

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+6%3A13&version=CJB

 

The commentary of David Guzik explains that temptation (or hard testing as it is translated in the CJB) “literally means a test, not always a solicitation to do evil. God has promised to keep us from any testing that is greater than what we can handle (1 Corinthians 10:13).”

 

https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/matthew-6/

 

We can pray to avoid testing, but in His sovereign way, the Father decides when we have to go through something hard.

 

When I don’t fully trust Him, I have to anyway. I have No One else to turn to.