My days are filled with a myriad of decisions and so are yours, but before you think I am talking about some high intensity professional position I want you to think for a moment. Unless you are staying in bed all day, your decisions begin immediately about what to wear, whether you skip or eat breakfast, and on it goes.
One of the decisions that can plague us relates to when we surrender and let go of something and when we hang on for dear life. Our Christian platitudes often make the choice more difficult. You know the phrases like “let go and let God” or “He’s called you to serve” or “just hang on until…” or “just put it in the Lord’s hands.” None of those are bad things, but discernment and wisdom about when we release something and when we stand firm on something are not always easy to come by.
Somehow we feel locked in when we make a choice.
Jennifer Dukes Lee offers some straightforward points on that in her new book, It’s All Under Control:
“You don’t have to pick one road and walk that path for the rest of your life. Gospel living is not an either/or question. It’s a both/and. It’s coming back to that fork in the road every day — with every decision, every obligation, and every relationship — and asking God to help you choose.”
Recently I was in a decision mode about participating in a women’s Bible study that started this fall. I had participated in late winter and spring and enjoyed the study and the fellowship, but this time I kept hesitating and I wasn’t sure why. I asked the Lord and didn’t hear a definitive word from Him. I decided to sign up and purchased the book since I had no clear nudge from the Lord. What continued to puzzle me as I paid for the book was a hesitancy that wasn’t a “no” and yet wasn’t a nod to go ahead.
A day or so later when I picked up the book to begin going over the initial pages I was struck by how it felt heavy to me. The book wasn’t thicker or bigger than the previous study, but it felt “too much.” I put the book down and went on to other things until a few days later when I sat down and experienced the same thing. It felt forced somehow.
For me, decisions are hardest when there doesn’t seem to be a clear leading. Sometimes I have these unsettled times where I can’t point to a reason not to do something. But I still feel stuck about going forward and have no evidence about why I shouldn’t. That’s especially true when I am concerned someone I care about will be disappointed in the choice I make.
Regarding the Bible study I forgot one principle I have tended to live by: If I don’t have a definitive sense to go ahead, I don’t (even if I miss out on something). As I continued to think and pray about it, that forgotten principle came to mind and I decided even though I signed up and bought the book I was not going to participate…even though I could not point to why.
I emailed the leader and shared with her my decision as well as the ambivalence about the decision without a definite reason. She was a delight! She accepted my choice (and me) and added that any day I wanted to pop in and felt it was a good choice that she would be glad to have me.
The day of the first meeting of the Bible study came and I felt a release or peace, an assurance I had made the right decision not to participate. Each week that peace has continued and the Lord has also set an agenda with Him or someone else that I could not have done if I had gone forward with the study.
Surrendering meant taking a risk that I might be wrong, but it also meant discovering what adventure the Lord had waiting that was on his agenda for me (even if it wasn’t on my own). It meant really walking in trust. It also meant letting go of control.
Each day that I grow in these areas I discover that God’s agenda for me is not only better for me in every way, but the little surprises along the way add joy to my relationship with Him.
In It’s All Under Control, Jennifer reduces it down to the lowest common denominator:
“Don’t let go when it gets difficult. Let go only when it’s time. Until then, hang on.”
What truth! Most of us would prefer to let go when it is difficult.
One thing I am certain of at this point in my life: The difficult things and the ones I didn’t want or ask for, are the ones where I grew up, grew closer to the Lord, and gained greater trust.
We don’t need to toss a coin.
We just need to follow Him.