Chapter 6 - Decisions, Those Decisions
"Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision." ——Joel 3:14
To do or not to do-—that is the question of this age. This is the question of the America in which we live. What are we supposed to do; what are we going to do? Nevertheless, what we do now is based upon a prior decision. There is perhaps nothing in this world, I would say, wide world, so common, yet so amazingly difficult, as to make a tough decision. Questions come to us, and many of these we have to agonize over. Yet we must realize that we cannot be on the fence. Either we are for something, or we are against something. There is a point of no return. There is the point of making the decision, and not living on the apex of the fence board. The day in which we live has a fence that is very sharp. The edge is keen. It is slanted so that one cannot remain on the top.
This is what Jesus had reference to when He said, "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other." (Matt. 6:24). Cross-roads in American living are often—times presented. We come to a "y" type road intersection. We face a decision. We must decide what to do.
Years ago when I entered college, it was a decision for me to make. Which college should I attend? Then, on entering college, there were other decisions which had to be made. Always there were turns before which decisions had to be made. I recall a man's telling me some 15 years ago, "When you are traveling, and you don't know which way to go, as you are driving your car down a country road and come to a "y," always turn right. Well, that is not always correct.
A motorist was driving down a country road and chanced upon a farmer working near the road. The motorist, looking down the road, saw that he was going to have to make a decision. The road developed a "y." He knew he just had to make a decision. He asked the farmer which was the way to such and such a place. Should he take a left or a right turn? The farmer replied, "It doesn't make any difference whether you take the left fork or the right fork. Neither one will get you where you want to go. It just doesn't matter.
If a farmer, if a contractor, if a business person, if anyone, at moments of decision, does not know what he wants to get done, or where he wants to go, it doesn't matter which way he turns. But, for a Christian, and for a Church, there are tasks, and there are goals, to which one must be faithful; and these involve making decisions.
Just routine living requires making decisions. Just the routine living of Adam and Eve led to a decision-making episode. Since a wrong decision was made, decisions have been plaguing individuals since that time. Sometimes one is forced into making a hard decision. We sometimes let our minds get over-heated, rather than using them to advantage, or letting them be cooled with the refreshing spirit of God. God has given us minds, and it is because of these minds that we have that we are able to make decisions. We have been given a "sense-making" computer," someone has said, "housed in our being."
There are decisions that have to be made in these categories. For example, a young person must decide whether or not he will engage in an immoral act. It is a real decision he has to make. In high school or in college a young person must decide, on a test, what is true or false. A driver must decide whether or not he will run a. yellow light; it could cause complications. Another must decide whether or not he will read the Bible; another makes a decision about whether or not he will visit in the name of his Church. There are decisions a house-wife must make at the supermarket. There are decisions that certain people must make at certain times in their lives in regard to a marriage proposal.
There is work in the Church that involves decisions. Would you note I Kings 18:21: "And Elijah came unto all the people and said, 'How long halt ye between two opinions?" Yet there are those who do not halt long. A decision was made somewhat quickly.
This has been exemplified in the lives of Moses and Joshua. I think of Caleb, and Ruth; i think of Paul, Peter, and Abraham. These individuals did not halt long before making decisions - yet they halted long enough. This is our first thing to note. In the decision—making episodes of our lives we must follow the path of the 4 D's: Deliberation, Discussion, Delay, and Driving On.
First, engage in deliberation. You will note that Jesus rose up while it was yet early. There were others who "withdrew themselves," before making decisions. In this area of deliberation, there was a collecting of facts. There was a "marshaling of the facts"-—a review of the activities of the day — deliberation for a course of action.
I once read that if a decision has to be made on Friday, one should wait until Friday to decide. In the meantime, one should collect "pro" and "con" information One should marshal the facts--get them together; and one should not even make the decision until later.
An army officer in Vietnam today must first note the objectives, and then he must give an estimate of decision. Often—times a decision maybe will affect various individuals, hundreds of people, thousands of people, even the whole nation; and even the whole world.
Sometimes there is a danger in looking for facts which would verify a prior hidden decision. When this is the case, one must be made aware of the fact that a decision has already been made - our subconscious had made a decision. Regardless of the number of facts gathered, these facts will not alter the prior decision made in our subconscious. We must have a period of deliberation.
Secondly, we must engage in discussion. And this discussion, before making a decision, will be based upon a C9flfrontation between God, ourselves, and our "inner man." When Jesus had His decisions to make, He talked to God first. This is good. He set an example for us. When Jesus was asked to come to Lazarus, He did not come immediately; He waited. This was, some think, deliberation, for various things were happening where He was. He had a discussion with God when He did come to Bethany, the home-town of Lazarus. Before He called Lazarus from the grave, He, the Scripture says, "prayed to God."
He further said, "I know that You hear Me; I don't even really have to say this out loud, but, for the sake of the people listening and watching Me, I call upon You, My Father." Jesus discussed the situation with God. I think this good, not just often-times, but at all times—-to discuss things with God. This may mean getting into the car, driving down the highway, and talking out loud to God. It may mean going into the field, or into the desert, or by the sea-shore, the woods, to be alone with God--to know that being alone can give us a direct line to Him.
Then, we must discuss with other people. God works through people. It is true that He can talk to you through other people. So discuss your forth coming decision with another person--preferably someone of your own age and standing--someone whom you can trust and in whom you can confide.
Then, too, you must have your discussion within yourself - with your "inner man." When there is a real struggle with one's self, often—times, the truth comes forth victorious. The result of making a decision, a good decision, is the best tranquilizer you can take. A bad decision can be that which creates tension and turmoil. Clergyman and psychologist alike know the value of talking and giving vent to feeling...especially before making a decision.
Third, engage in delay. Now, this is a little different from deliberation. In deliberation, we collected facts. Here, in the delay aspect, we sleep on it, so to speak. We, as we read in Matthew, "tarry." This delay can be extremely good for individuals.
On one University Campus Bureau of Social Research, it was discovered that decisions were affected by a passing mood; and, if the interior decorations were of the color blue, the individual would tend to be aggressive or destructive. If they, on the other hand, were gray, it would give him more tolerance and a greater balance. Well, regardless, when we "delay," we can obviously find out where we are.
For a doctor, a delay is important, when there are decisions that he has to make, to help him size up procedure and operation. The delay allows, further, for the hardening of the facts. A delay can also be exhibited by seeking God with your heart. A delay can be exhibited by keeping the commandments of God, being on God's side. A delay can be exhibited by following the Lord fully - serving God, loving God.
I think in the matter of prayer that one should say, "Thank You, Lord, that it is possible that the darkness of making decisions can be made into the lightness of a great revelation of God." Having a delay, we know better what to do. We have decided, as You, God, have told us in the period of "de— layedness," so to speak.
IV. Driving On
Fourth, engage in a driving on. Go, go, go You may want to change the car sometimes, but, go! This is what someone has called, "flexibility." Jesus went. He went to Jerusalem, knowing He was going to be killed.
There are two types of "going on." (1) The immediate, and there is the more (2) permanent. F. D. Roosevelt rarely got himself sewed tight to a purpose from which there was no turning, I once read. He said, "We have to do the best we know how at the moment. If it doesn't turn out well, then modify as we go along."
It is true that sometimes when we are in the procedure of "going," we can modify our position. And, sometimes, modify our position we must. As we go, we must take Jesus with us. We must go with Him, not ahead of Him, nor too far behind Him. We must go with Him. We sometimes sing, "I'll go with Him, with Him, all the way."
We must follow through. Luke 9:62 reads: "And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God." Or He is saying, to take it somewhat out of context, "When you make a decision, then stick to your decision. If you know you are right, then don't be swayed by other people who would try to present another side to you.
Stick to your position, your decision, and follow through with it. UNTIL you come to the point where you know you are making a mistake, or you have new light on the subject, which will make you alter or modify your position."
Joshua 24:14, 15 are great sentences for decision—making: "Now therefore, fear the Lord, and serve Him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
Decisions in stopping a habit; decisions in preparing for the future; decisions, decisions-—big decisions for a profession, for life's partner, for the future. Many decisions will have to be "learned," as we go. Some will leave us humble, waiting before God.
But, with courage, after we have made a decision; and, with God's being on our side, we will know, as Andrew Jackson said, "One man with courage makes a majority." So, in the private voting of our mind, that "one vote" is the decisive one in the Campaign of Decision this year.
How is one to make an intelligent decision? With God's help, everyone can make an intelligent decision. First of all, engage in Deliberation. Engage, secondly, in Discussion; third, in Delay; and then, with confidence in self and in God, Drive On past the barrier of decision-making.
May we pray:
Our Father, we ask that in the Valley of Decision, You might lift up our eyes to the hills. We would see the ray of light that gives illumination for an answer. We would see the sunbursts of Your graciousness upon us. When a decision has to be made, be it great or small, may this one, first of all, pause and. take You into consideration; for, after all, You are within us, and what we do definitely affects our relationship with You and our relationship with Your work.
Give clearness of mind when we have to make a decision. May our decisions be Your decisions.
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