When God Lets Us Choose

Right now Jeff and I have two possible opportunities (for a pastoral role for Jeff). One seemed like it was a no-go, then the other sprung up, then it died down and the other seemed like it was back on, a done deal. Then, no word for weeks, while the other has emerged again a bit stronger. Whenever we’ve leaned one way,something makes ustilt back to the center. At this point, we have no idea which will materialize, or even which we’d prefer.

I’m a black and white thinker. It’s natural for me to analyze situations constantly to determine what the very best situation is. I also am passionate about rejecting the sacred/secular duality, and instead embracing that God is in every details of life…the sacredness of the mundane. So even in college I remember asking God, “What way should I walk to class today? Is there a specific way you want me to go, so I’ll meet someone or is there is something you have for me?” Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of times I just had to run the shortest way because I was late, tired, or sick of the rain, but I’m a pretty hard-core believer that there’s usually a “best way” to do things.

Isn’t it funny how God challenges us in the way we naturally think? I’ve had this funny feeling, this strong feeling lately that in this two-opportunity situation Jeff and I are in, that God might be asking us to choose. We’ve prayed, we’ve weighed, we’ve given both our best shot. We’ve listed pros and cons, we’ve sought counsel. You name it, we’ve done it. And granted,neither one hasbeen exactly handed to us at this point, but I still have this strange suspicion that God’s asking us to choose. And not just choose what is the good option and the bad, or even between better and best. But just to choose what we’d most desire to do.

My fingers stutter even writing those words. I am not a “best life now” kind of girl. I don’t choose things based on what I want or like (unless it’sice cream flavors); I choose based on ministry, effectiveness, efficiency, utilizing resources, sense of should, greater benefit, etc. And most of the time, I do believe those are the right things to factor in when making decisions. But could it be, could it possibly be, that there are times when God actually says, “I’ve chosen you. You’ve followed my path. Now you choose … what would you like?”

My Family Ministry professor shared a similar experience. He reached a point where he had to choose which direction to go in ministry. Everytime he prayed, he envisioned a tennis match with God. He kept hitting the ball back at God: “What do You want me to do?” And everytime, God kept hitting it back at him, saying: “What do you want to do?” At first it frustrated Him–of course God must want Him to do a certain one thing, right? But then eventually He realized that in this one situation, God was actually allowing Him to just choose what he wanted to do!

I met with my mentor professor today and without me even bringing this idea up, she said, “It sounds like God is letting you choose. Like when you hold out for Dutch (my son) an apple and a banana and say, ‘Which one do you want, Honey?’ Both are nutritious. Both are great options, both will nourish him. One is not better than the other. The end result is the same, and because you love him you’re letting him choose according to his heart’s desire, because it pleases you to let him.” So simple. I don’t expect Dutch to evaluate the fiber content of each or estimate his need for potassium or evaluate which piece of fruit costs less. He just chooses and we are both happy.

Of course I still believe that most of the time God has the “right choice” for us. But as we consider our options–which seminary to attend, where to live, which job, or smaller things like what to do on a Friday night with our families, perhaps at times our loving Father hands us two glorious options, an apple and a banana, and says, “Here precious child. Which one would delight you?” Perhaps sometimes God just lets us choose.

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Written by kari-patterson
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