Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying,
“This is the way, walk in it,”
Whenever you turn to the right hand
Or whenever you turn to the left. Isaiah 30:21 (NKJV)
I have recently become a fan of the British time travel series, “Dr. Who.” Slowly working my way through all the episodes, I have recently watched one from the fourth season called, “Turn Left.” This particular episode deals with the consequences of life decisions–as in what would happen if we made the wrong one. Donna Noble, traveling with The Doctor, finds herself in an open air market, lured into what appears to be a fortune-teller’s lair. Donna is told by the fortune-teller that she must go back to a point in time and make the decision to “turn right” (not left) when she arrives at a certain intersection (a critical junction in time). The result? She never meets The Doctor, who then dies (because Donna isn’t there to help him), the world winds up on a collision course with destruction (again), and there is no Doctor to “ride in and save the day,” thus leading to the end of the world.
Because of this episode, I have wondered what would happen if I had the opportunity to go back in time and make different choices with what I know now. The concept of time travel makes wonderful fiction, thus making this conjecture moot, although an entertaining way to examine one’s past life.
So many of the decisions we make in life are not recognized as critically important when we make them: we decide to take a different job because it pays better; we buy a new house because we like the kitchen; we become good friends with someone because of our proximity or shared experience; we marry someone because we are lonely; we buy an expensive car because we think it will change how others view us, all in hopes these will make our lives better and we will be happier. What if we had made these decisions, not based on our emotions or intellectual reasoning, but because we had actively listened for the voice of the Holy Spirit when we made them? Would we still have made the same choices?
Our choices and decisions on a daily basis often seem insignificant, as it did to Donna– whether to “turn right” or “turn left” at a specific intersection. She is talked into turning right (instead of left to her job as a temp at a big company) by her mother who wants Donna to take, what she views, a safer career path to a more stable job. As this episode reveals, the “safer” path isn’t always so safe.
I have been thinking a lot lately about safety and security. With the large-scale damage on the Eastern Seaboard due to recent weather events, the current financial crisis that has hit so many families, and with elections looming, there is much about our current situation that destroys our feelings of “safety.” We can find ourselves making decisions based solely on the desire to feel comfortable and safe. Obviously, the above examples are major life events–a big deal to most of us. However, for the rest, there is a saying: “Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s all small stuff.” We aren’t supposed to get too concerned about the other things in life. Just relax. . . Don’t worry. . . It doesn’t matter. . .
What if that’s wrong? What if all the “small” decisions we so thoughtlessly make, set events into motion taking us places we should not have been in the first place? What would our lives have been like if different decisions had been made? What if we stopped making decisions based on expediency, fear, comfort, safety, someone else’s advice, good intentions, or how much money we make (or it costs)? What would happen if we asked the Lord, “What is it You want me to do right now? Where is it You want me to go?”
What if we began to actively seek the direction of Holy Spirit Who desires to say to us: “This is the way, walk in it?”
Many parents tell their children, “You can be anything you want to be” or conversely, “You will never amount to anything.” Some parents encourage their children to follow certain career paths because “You will always have a job” or “Don’t do that. Nobody ever makes any money doing that (fill in the blank here).” As Christian parents, we must teach our children to search the Scriptures and listen to the Holy Spirit for each decision and life choice they make, no matter how great or small it appears to be on the surface. Our job is to encourage them to discover what God’s specific call is on their lives and then help them discern, with wisdom, how God wants them to accomplish it.There is nothing worse than looking back on your life (or the lives of your children) and realizing that God’s call was never fulfilled because we settled for something less than the best He had.
The Christian walk requires courage to “swim upstream” when every one else is telling us to “go with the flow.” It doesn’t matter if the pressure to conform and be like everyone else comes from the world, our family, our friends, or from the Church. The results are the same: lost opportunities and events are changed. We turn “right” instead of “left” and people’s lives are affected. We may think we are able to make these decisions in a vacuum, but we can’t.
My husband holds a private pilot’s license. He has told me a number of times that being a mere three degrees off from your intended flight plan can ensure you wind up in a completely different city than you started out for. Our lives are the same way. We make a series of “wrong turns” and wind up some place we never intended, wondering how we got there.
God’s perspective is not limited by time or short-sightedness as ours is. He knows how things are meant to fit together, not only for today, but for eternity. He knows what we do not: each decision is important in our lives and affects the path we take. For this reason, He greatly desires to be a part of each and every one of them. And thankfully, we serve a God who is well able to make the ultimate “course correction” and get us back on track when we have created a mess for ourselves. All that is required is a repentant heart, the willingness to change, and the courage to step out in faith. God can repair the “collateral damage” of our poor decisions.
Donna Noble asks the following question when confronted by others about her responsibility to change/fix the chain of events that has gone totally awry due to her decision to go right instead of left: “Why me? I’m a nobody. I’m just a temp from Chiswick.” How many of us feel the same way? We do not understand that God, in His sovereignty, has assigned us a role in His Kingdom and we have an important part to play in His plans. Like the biblical account of Esther, important outcomes may hinge on our decisions. Had Esther made the wrong one, results could have been very different and the story of her courage and faith not included in Scripture. While I do not understand why a sovereign God would give us the ability and responsibility to choose between His Will and ours, I know that He has.
Today when you come to that inevitable “fork in the road,” before you make the decision to “turn right” or “turn left,” turn to the Lord and ask Him which way you should go. You never know what may be riding on your decision. . .
Copyright © 2012 by Susan E. Johnson
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