Making decisions has never been easy for me. So much rides on a single decision. It can be something small such as at a restaurant ordering food. Or it can be something big. What I noticed is that it becomes harder still to make big decisions in life as a Christian. After all, while there are things I want to do, much more important still for me is to find out the will of God and to do it. What happens if I make a decision that God does not approve of? Will that make my life hard? Will God confound me, restrict me, oppose me until I undo what I did? Will I have to live through a miserable time because of the choice I made?
I noticed that all these questions have a common denominator. It is the desire for gratification. In other words, they come out of fear that life will be to hard if I make the wrong decisions. Seeking the will of God in the end is not so much an act of faith, but an act of selfishness. If I seek the path that God blesses, life will be much easier. As a side note, if things don’t work out was well as I wish but I did what God wants me to do, I have no one to blame but God. Greatest chance for happiness and the least amount of responsibility. Great!
One of the hardest decisions I have had to make in my short, short life so far was about whether to accept a job with a program called Outtatown. I was on a missions trip in Europe at the time and confident that God’s voice should and could be heard clearly and that he would give me a clear and simple answer. Instead, I got silence… and a bunch of well meant advice that was not helpful. I stopped asking when I this little nugget wisdom: “If God does not say ‘yes!’ he is saying ‘no!'” It was plain not helpful and just a circular argument (after all, if God does not say “no” then he says “yes” is as logical). So much for God speaking through your community. I learned a valuable lesson. While God helped me by providing me with many people talk through my decision (and a great dad to talk thorough my fears with), in the end, I had to make this decision on my own. God is not my cosmic babysitter! And the promise is and was that regardless of how easy or hard life became after that, God would be around take care of me. Turns out, the decision to take the job on Outtatown changed my life completely. I got to know my best friend there, and a little over 10 months ago she became my wife!
That brings me to the present. Some decisions are hard to make, others are easy. Asking my wife to marry me and saying “I do” was easy(asking her to go out with me was not, on the other hand). So was the decision to study at Congrad Grebel in Waterloo, ON. The latter made logical sense and was the cheapest option (always a convincing argument for a Mennonite). And while marrying my wife has to be the best thing I will ever do in my life, studying at Grebel and moving to Kitchener has not been. So, over the last 6 months I have slowly looked for other options and have searched for a job involving church ministry. And then the moment came: after several interviews, at the end of a meet and greet coffee time I had a job offer. Once again, the decision was easy. It had taken us 6 months to get to this point, so we did not need time to think about it: the answer was “yes!”
As it happens however, sometimes the decisions you make only become scary after you have made them. All the questions surrounding your own abilities, your insecurities and your fears regarding a job in such a public setting set in. After all, I have never been a Youth Pastor before. The desire to be valued, accepted and to be loved by everyone turns into fear of not being accepted, not being valued and not being loved by everyone (what if I do a horrible job?). I know these fears, and I have battled those voices. It is in the face of these fears that I have made this decision. And yet, it is these little party spoilers that accompany a moment of blessing such as the one we experienced.
As I was debriefing these last few weeks, I was reading John 21. Jesus’ conversation with Peter struck me: three times Jesus instructs Peter to feed and take care of his sheep and lambs followed by a promise of suffering. And then comes the mission statement in verse 19: “Follow me.” Of course, Peter being Peter, he objects and points to other disciples. Jesus answer ones again comes clearly: don’t worry about the other… follow me! Some decisions in life are easy, others are hard. Sometimes, the voice of God is clear. Other times, it is not there at all. And sometimes our fears, our idols, speak up and our decisions our yes-answers come with a “but.” As I embark on a new period in my life once again, and as I have been answering God’s call with my own objection. what I come back to and what I hope to hold front and centre from now on, are Jesus’ promise that all I have to follow!