Choices, Risks, Cautions, Fears

Sometimes I feel we place these in a dice cup and toss them out – until we get the combinations we like; but I know it isn’t really that simple. Mostly, we brood over them, and try to pick the best or the most clamoring in our minds at the time. But the Bible gives us a better way.

One thing the Bible instructs us to have is a a state of peace. If we start out in a state of peace it is like placing the jewels of choice on a black velvet cloth: we are able to see the details so much more clearly and examine which one is best for our situation. This state of peace is a daily habitual action: “Cast your cares upon Him, for He careth for you”. Remembering God’s care and taking those concerns to God in prayer is the basic step to cultivate for peace of mind. We are then far more ready to weigh the pros and cons of our decisions, and undertake a study of the guidance from scripture than when we are so confused with worry and hypothetical reasonings about the “what ifs” and “if onlys”.

I was thinking about one of the books I read recently and how spiritually I have to dismiss much of its advice, but within it were some very real and helpful concepts. Those had to do with renewing ones mind concerning myths that are passed down to us in our family: myths about ourselves, about priorities, and possibilities. The idea that many of those are based upon fear stated me thinking about this process of making decisions and wading through the often conflicting motivations and beliefs we hold. We want to be successful and financially self sufficient ( or something similar) for example, but we deem ourselves unworthy of it, or we believe we are less virtuous for making money or promotion. That conflict may have fears of rejection attached ( if connected to acceptance within the family), and if so, we go in the circles of the double minded. The Bible warns us that those who do so won’t get what they hope for- they are unstable in all their efforts.

To be single minded is to have dealt with fears and compose ones focus on a determining factor. Knowing God’s will for a situation is a powerful determining factor, understanding ones talents and desires is another, having a sense of meaning or destiny is another very powerful focus.

Caution is a reality based fear, it guards the sides of the road against detours or dangers that would undermine the goals. Too often, though, we have trouble discerning between caution and fear, and very often we blur the line between “good fear” and “bad fear”. Irresponsibility and over responsibility both create “bad fear”- detrimental fears that block any real progress and bind up our relating to others in destructive types of ways. How do we learn to differentiate properly? Learning to make proper boundaries and getting perspective of wisdom, first through reference to scripture, but also by listening to voices of wisdom and experience- all these are building a body of knowledge within us to guide our thinking and create greater ease in negotiating the path ahead. Sometimes, though, it is the good old school of hard knocks by which we gain our learning, which is why the advice from scripture to give thanks in all situations is such good advice.

On risks: when Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell all he had and to follow as Christ’s disciple, He was presenting a great risk… a great gamble before the young man. But – in the light of a parable given elsewhere- if the young man had valued the pearl of great price, and realized that what was being offered was that pearl that far outshone the worth of anything else that man could potentially own in a lifetime,( or as if he was offered the opportunity to buy the field that held far more treasure than he could amass in his present situation). In that case, was it really such a gamble? How many of the risks we think we are facing hold outcomes that we have no appreciation for? And how many times do we risk things of great value for those of little lasting worth? If you answer with me your answer is “too many”. Further, how often do we waste our time and burden others with our determinations of the worth of others choices? People go where the money is… and if we are making the best choices, eventually that proves itself in much of life. The operating word there being “eventually”. I think key to this whole topic is that a servant stands or falls before his master. There is one to answer to in ones life, and from that accountability comes the first factor to take into consideration in taking risk and making life’s decisions. Around that standard we can add other information and guidance.

Are we too afraid to make our own decisions and take our own risks? Do we spend time worrying over how others are handling their choices, as a way of ignoring our own responsibilities? Are we spending time renewing our minds in the pure clean refreshment of God’s Word? Do we cultivate our peace with lives of prayer? Do we estimate things rightly based upon God’s revealed value system and set of balances?