There are no volcanoes in Austin. But there are quite a few in Alaska where I grew up. When a volcano erupted hundreds of miles away, the air in Fairbanks would be filled with fine particles of ash that covered our cars with a thin layer of volcanic dust like the cedar pollen on a spring morning in central Texas. Can you imagine what it would be like to live even closer to an erupting volcano?
In A. D. 79 the citizens of Pompeii near Naples, Italy experienced one of history’s most famous and devastating volcanic eruptions when Mt. Vesuvius belched super heated poison gas, volcanic ash, and tons of burning mud and tiny rocks, destroying the city and the people living there. Because the eruption was so sudden and fierce, the people were almost instantly mummified where they were.
I visited Pompeii a few years ago and toured the ruins of the 2000 year old Roman city “frozen” in time. One couple was attempting to flee the eruption but their petrified bodies reveal the tragic fact that they paused to grab handfuls of gold coins which, after all this time, were discovered still in their mummified hands.
Their choices in those final moments provide a heartbreaking lesson, preserved forever, about misplaced priorities. It’s not hard to imagine what they must have been thinking, but they were wrong. The coins remained for 2000 years to remind us that what seems like a good plan at the moment can be the wrong choice after all!
Our choices matter. As has often been observed, “We make our choices- then our choices make us.”
In meaningful conversations over the years, I’ve discovered almost everybody is in the decision making process at all times! We are usually wondering which way to turn with finances; “should I try to get a better job or stay put and risk the security of this lower paying job?” Or, we wonder, “are my retirement investments secure or should I play it safer?” If not our finances we are making relationship choices: ” He seems like a man I could build a life with but is he the one? Am I settling out of insecurity?” Or we speculate about a family member’s drinking or substance abuse and question if it has reached a point when we should do something -or would that only alienate us from then further? Beyond family decisions and financial decisions we make daily choices about a range of personal issues. “Is it time to buy a new car?” “Where should I go to college?” “Should I schedule surgery or wait and see how long I can live with the pain?” The list goes on!
The question, of course, is not “do I have decisions to make?” The real question is “how can I know I’m making the right one?”
EVERY CHOICE IS GOD SIZED!
Everyone has choices to make. God reminds us from Scripture our choices are “God sized.” In other words, because our choices affect our lives, and those around us, God wants to guide our decision making process. As a result God advises us to:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He will make straight your paths.” (Pr.3:5-6 ESV)
Embedded in this familiar text are some actionable principles.
1) Choices are matters of faith. The Bible says, “Trust in the Lord.”
No decision you wrestle with can be disconnected from your relationship with God as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Trust Him!
2) “All” means “all.” Twice in this passage God reminds us He is interested in sole ownership not “time shares” over our lives. Every choice we make is ultimately His choice! He wants “all” your heart as He directs “all” your ways.
3) “Acknowledging” God means more than noticing Him in the room! The Hebrew word comes from a root meaning “to know, to perceive, to experience.” When you have the opportunity to carefully consider a decision, acknowledging God may be as simple as lifting the matter to Him in unhurried prayer. In this way you may sense a powerfully clear direction accompanied by the strong and stabilizing “peace that passes understanding.” In any event, before you decide on a thing, you will want to wait in God’s presence for His leadership and direction.
You will make an untold number of choices today. Each one has consequences you will not be able to control. Knowing how unclear the future is should lead you to lean on God for leadership. He knows what is best.
And finally, if you’re running from a volcanic eruption, don’t stop at the bank!