Making Decisions with God in Mind
The Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, September 8, 2013
The Episcopal Church in Myrtle Beach
As I examined the Propers for today – the readings and the collect – I found some interesting directions about making decisions in life. These directions might involve decisions that are big ones – life-changing ones. Also included though, could be everyday kinds of decisions as well. Further, such decisions might involve individuals or groups – perhaps even groups like this one and individuals like our confirmands today. Therefore, I encourage you to follow along with me as I share four perspectives this morning about making decisions.
We begin at a very important point...a point of faith. And this is so significant and helpful as we prepare to make decisions in our lives. We might call this point “original faith”, for it is the place at which we start our reflection today – and the place that we can begin to make healthy decisions. The Psalmist offers this perspective to us. “Lord, you have searched me out and known me; you know my sitting down and my rising up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You trace my journeys and my resting-places and are acquainted with all my ways. Indeed, there is not a word on my lips, but you, O Lord, know it altogether” (139:1-3).
Therefore, we have the assurance that God knows us – even better than we know ourselves. We begin our decision-making process realizing that we are known and loved by God. Our decisions may eventually take us to some unexpected and unknown places. On our life journey, we may find ourselves far away from where we started. But no matter how far we travel, we cannot leave behind God’s knowledge and love ... knowledge and love, that is, of us – individually and collectively. That, then, is our original faith, our point of origin.
Then, the next direction from our readings involves the exercise of wisdom, and we find mention of this in our Gospel reading. Jesus offers two examples of the importance of exercising wisdom as we begin to consider making a decision. He says, “Which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him” (Lk 14: 28-29). Then Jesus continues with a second example, “What king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace” (14: 31-32).
The particular function of wisdom in these examples from our Lord involves counting the cost of a decision. Anticipate the outcome, Jesus says, and that will help you decide if your conclusion makes sense or not. The exercise of wisdom, then, follows original faith in today’s directions about the process of making decisions in life.
Next comes a particular kind of encouragement, from the reading in Deuteronomy. There Moses refers to choices presented to the people of God ... choices, that is, in terms of decisions that must be made. At a time of decision, then, encouragement comes, as we consider our choices. We read, “I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days” (Deut. 30:19-20).
This word of encouragement speaks to us from our biblical tradition. We do have decisions before us, on a regular basis, and this reading reminds us that we do not make our choices apart from who we are, as people of God. In this memorable passage from Deuteronomy, Moses encourages us – in no uncertain terms – to “Choose life.” In the decisions we face, choose that which gives life to us, to our friends and loved ones, and to our communities. Do not choose that which brings death; do not choose on the basis of fear. Rather, choose life.
Finally, our collect today focuses us once again on the matter of faith... this time, though, on faith of the ultimate sort. We prayed these words near the beginning of our liturgy today. “Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts; for, as you always resist the proud who confide in their own strength, so you never forsake those who make their boast of your mercy” (BCP, p 233).
Thus, as we face decisions, we do our best – using what resources we can muster. At our best, we exercise wisdom in our considerations, and we respond appropriately to encouragement that comes our way. At least, we attempt to face decisions this way. When all is said and done, though, we come to that place which is more reliable, by far, than our own best efforts. We ultimately depend on God and, especially, on God’s mercy.
In conclusion, then, I have offered you today some thoughts about making decisions – big ones, small ones, individual ones, and collective ones. As I considered our readings and collect today, this matter of decision-making emerged as a primary topic in my thoughts and prayers ... and I have tried to share some of my reflections with you.
The dynamic of the process of making decisions begins at the point of original faith. “Lord, you have searched me out and known me.” God knows us and loves us. We begin there. Next, we exercise wisdom as we consider the options before us. We count the cost of making one decision as distinct from another one. Being wise in this process means that we use the gifts we have been given. Then, we listen for and hear encouragement from our biblical tradition. Among the various possibilities before us, we do well to “Choose life” and the fullness of life which our Lord offers. Finally, having done our best, we find comfort and peace at the point of faith which brings ultimate assurance. “Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts; for, as you always resist the proud who confide in their own strength, so you never forsake those who make their boast of your mercy.” Amen.
The Right Reverend Charles G. vonRosenberg
- 227th Annual Diocesan Convention November 2017
- 226th Annual Diocesan Convention: November 2016
- Special Convention: September 2016
- 225th Annual Diocesan Convention: November 2015
- 224th Annual Diocesan Convention: November 2014
- 223rd Annual Diocesan Convention, February 2014 >
- 222nd Annual Diocesan Convention, March 2013
- Special Convention January 2013 >
- Contact us