Think Twice

8 07 2013

reasonHow many times have I been at a crossroads where I could decide to do this, or choose to do that instead? Countless.

There are ordinary things I have decided like “Chicken or pasta?” “Crest or Colgate?” “The red one or the green one?” Most of these kinds of decisions haven’t mattered, but sometimes the two options have had serious consequences for my life and have impacted a bunch of other people too.

I have made decisions on my own: impulsively, in reaction to, in haste, mindlessly, blindly, stubbornly and selfishly. I have made decisions because of my rights, my envy, my hurt, my laziness and my vengeance.

There is this thing that happens to me and many people when we are making a decision in a corner, or when angry or carnal: we don’t think. In such times, I have said and done things I have regretted and they were all totally avoidable.

I have also made decisions with the help and counsel of others. I have come willing to have a soft heart and an open mind. I have stayed at the table without weapons, prepared to choose the option that will lead to success, joy, health, healing, reconciliation and possibility. I have come with my guard down ready to see the other person or the circumstance in the light.

Today I read a story about a King  named Rehoboam (1 Kings 12). He was at a crossroads and had the power and the ability to choose between two options.

Option 1: Be a King who chooses kindness, generosity and humility which would surely result in the construction of a community loyal to his leadership. Be among the people and with the people, loving them and they would love him back. This is what elder advisers suggested.

Option 2: Be a leader who gets what he wants, asserts his position, lays down the law, ignores the feelings of others and gains control for the sake of demonstrating personal power and might. Tell them who you are. Tell them what you deserve. This is what his young cohorts advised.

Rehoboam didn’t even think twice. Gentleness? That doesn’t sell papers. His buddies appealed to his testosterone, pride and self-righteousness and he went with Option 2.

The aftermath happens so quickly it doesn’t even get another chapter in the Bible. Within three days he sees the result of his decision. He is told that the dynasty of his ancestors is over, he loses the tribes of Israel, he has to flee from Jerusalem, and he clumsily reigns with ineffectiveness over Judah as the people become more and more evil under his leadership.

He didn’t even see it coming.

And that’s the thing. We make decisions and we don’t see what is coming. I can’t explain it, but in certain circumstances we just think we are soooooo right that we can’t comprehend that we are wrong, or at the very least there is another way of looking at things. Out of a sinful heart we see things with sinful eyes and make sinful choices that just result in more…sin.

What terrible, terrible things have been done in the world, in homes, in churches, among relatives, friends and families because no one thought twice.

We are always, always presented with at least two options at every crossroads

One option is hasty and involves us just deciding then and there; we do it and wash our hands of it. These decisions we try to justify when they turn out badly. They usually cause rifts, divides, and chasms generations deep.

The other option — and I have seen this done right by more than one friend — involves slowing down and thinking. It involves choosing wise counsel. Often the counsel comes from someone older who has lived a little to know the formulas that lead to success and failure (though I must say, on more than one occasion someone younger and a lot younger has counseled me). This one involves some quietness, making a personal inventory, wrestling with pride, and putting Jesus first.

The first option feels right in the moment, the second one feels right over your lifetime.

Right now I am thankful. I don’t always slow down, seeking the input of others, but sometimes I have. I am deeply thankful for all my mentors — living and dead — who have modeled “thinking twice” and have offered me their own wise counsel. I am so grateful for those who have listened to me, counseled me, telling me stories I have taken to heart. God has blessed this in the end.

The Lord beckons, come…let us REASON together. I think this is such a kind invitation where Jesus wants to save us a world of pain.

— Teresa Klassen



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