One of the things that can be very frustrating about agonizing over making a faithful decision at a crossroads in life is that sometimes, you'll be making a decision that you've made before...or that you'll have to make again.
Most of us want to believe that once we have made our choice, once we have gone down a certain path - especially one that we have labored so intensely over, prayed so fervently over, invested all of our energies in making faithfully - that we won't have to make that choice again. If today, I choose a certain path that embraces one opportunity and walks away from another, we'd like to think that the opportunity we've walked away from is one that we won't have to walk away from again.
But anyone who has lived in this life for any length of time knows this just isn't true. There are some decisions that just keep circling back to us, and we have to make them again and again and again.
In some situations, we might call this "temptation" - like God, or perhaps the world, is just trying to "get" us, just trying to make us finally break or cave in or trying to show us that we're not as strong and resolute as we think. And in some cases, that might be true. Like an addict who has to always choose sobriety or a dieter who has to always choose against that extra dessert, sometimes, temptation does come into our lives.
But to say that every time we face the same choice, it is temptation is far too simple. And simply, it's not always true. In most cases, it would be an unfaithful decision to say that I will always choose exactly what I am choosing today. It is often not true that tomorrow's faithful decision is the same as today's.
Because tomorrow is an entirely different day. Tomorrow is a new season in our lives. Our circumstances change. Our experience changes. Our opportunities change. We change. Our faith grows. The things that we could not faithfully do today, we might able to very faithfully do tomorrow. The things that might not be right for this season of our lives might be absolutely perfect for the next one. Or the one after that. This is where we come to the place in our lives where we're looking at a decision that we think we've made, and we make it in exactly the opposite direction, and something in our soul just says, "It's time." And we're okay with it. When yesterday, we might not have been; it might have wrecked everything.
That can be very frustrating, especially if we're aware of this possibility at the time that we are making our decision today. Especially if part of our conclusion is, "Now is not the time." We then know that all of the painful considerations we've been thinking about this time, we're going to think about again. When we know that the long, sleepless nights and almost-unbearable days are going to come back to us in another season. When we know that all of this time, all of this energy, all of this prayer, all of this contemplation, all of these considerations that we're making right now are only for right now, that we're not actually making a decision for the rest of our lives.
Unless, of course, that's what we choose today.
And then that, too, must be part of our considering. We have to be careful not to choose something today just because it is the only option that keeps us from having to make this particular decision again. We have to be careful to know whether we are choosing a path or closing a door. And we have to be mindful of why we're doing that. Is it because it's the faithful thing...or the easy one?
None of us wants to make a hard decision today. None of us wants to make that hard decision again tomorrow. But the truth about us is that we live our lives in seasons, and that means that sometimes, things change. In fact, things often change.
So be mindful today of the choice you're making. Is it today's choice...or tomorrow's? Is this a choice I'm making for my life...or for my lifetime? What does it mean if I choose this path or close this door?
Am I prepared to do it all again if I have to?
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