I'm at the crux of a huge decision. I long for the days when all my decisions were quickly determined by “a sign from God.” Sometimes, I believed that the shirt at the front of the closet, the red one (which caught my attention) was the one God wanted me to wear that day. He wanted me to wear it so that Bob or George or Brenda would confuse me with someone else. Next a conversation would start between us. I would share Christ and they would become a Christian. If I disobeyed the sign, wearing the blue shirt, Bob or George or Brenda would spend all of eternity in Hell’s fires.
My present decision is a black or white one. For over a year I've been working on the idea of creating a non-profit group for taking medical students on overseas clinical rotations. After all this work, the time of reckoning has finally come. I must decide within the next week if I crap or get off the pot (borrowing a line from my Appalachian roots).
I have the opportunity to take my first student to Nepal in October on a three week medical trek (where we backpack from village to village delivering medical care). But there are huge issues at stake. If I have any hope of going forward on this project, this will be the next step. But this is also the best time to give up, before I waste any money.
I remember gong through a Navigator seminar once with the title, “Christian Decision Making.” It broke down the process into five simple steps. All of life’s answers then came in five—or sometimes six—steps. Bill Gothard was the master at the cookbook approach to the perfect Christian life. The steps could show you how to be successful, have the perfect marriage, raise perfect kids and never suffer from any kind of mental illness.
The five factors essential to making any decision were; 1) the Word, 2) circumstances, 3) godly counsel, 4) prayer and 5) a sign from God. Regarding the sign, we always used the Bible account of Joshua laying a fleece on the ground and God giving him an answer by whether there was dew on it or not. Every time anyone mentioned a major decision, such as what to major in, which deodorant to buy, which girl to marry, we would always ask, “Did you lay out a fleece?”
I like signs. They make the process so easy. The fleece can be as simple as, “God . . . if you want me to do this, make x happen.” My roommate was able to get a gorgeous girl to break off her engagement with a hunk and marry him after God gave him a sign. The sign was, “God, if you want her to marry me, don’t allow me to fall down today.” He didn’t fall down that day so he rushed over and told her that God wanted her to marry him . . . and she did!
Today I bought a bag of chips. One of the chips was shaped like Nepal, or so I thought. (btw Nepal doesn’t have a very distinctive shape if you haven’t noticed). I had to laugh. There was a day when that would have meant something . . . what the hell it meant … I wouldn’t have had a clue, but it would have meant something. To go or not to go was the question.
But I don’t believe in signs anymore. The shapes of clouds don’t carry subliminal messages from the creator of the universe just for me. That’s not a bad thing. I don’t believe that God loves me any less.
I love my children to pieces but I don’t go around sending them secret, vague messages to mirco-manage their lives.
I still believe that God is all powerful, actually more powerful than before. I mean, if God had unlimited power . . . why on earth would he communicate through the shape of a potato chip?
There’s also a flipside to not trying to follow signs, a positive flipside. I don’t have to worry about mis-reading the tea leaves and making a tragic mistake, like wearing the blue shirt and sending a bunch of strangers to hell . . . or somehow making my joy less complete.
I honestly don’t believe that God has a specific will about my present decision. He will love me and bless me with either.
But one sign, any sign, would take a heck of work out this process.