If you feel like you’re peering ahead into an impenetrable wall of unknowns, this issue may help you make sense of the options and find your way.
Some years ago, after a series of mistakes left me exasperated and discouraged, I pleaded with God to turn me into a robot, programmed to always do what He knew was best. You know that deep down I want nothing more than to do what’s right, but my wrong decisions and harebrained ideas keep getting in the way! Can’t You reprogram me to always make the right choice and do the right thing? Think how much better off Your world would be!
One of the traits of humankind, as beings created in the image of God, is free will, which includes both the ability to make decisions and the responsibility for the outcomes of our decisions. Learning to make decisions that will glorify God and fulfill His will for our lives can be very challenging. It can test and grow our faith, as we seek His will and wait on Him for answers and guidance.
A few years ago my life changed, and not in a small way. There were so many changes at once. It was quite overwhelming and rather discouraging at times.
First, I had to move back to my home country, Ukraine, after having lived in Bosnia and Herzegovina for six years doing missionary and volunteer work. My two sons, who had always been with me, had grown into wonderful young men and moved on to pursue their goals. I needed to find a place to stay, a job, things to do, and motivation to go on.
I have such a clear memory of it. I woke up early on a summer morning and looked outside to see only white. I rubbed my eyes, thinking there was something wrong with them, then decided to explore. I stepped out onto the porch and down the steps and was amazed to feel like I was in the middle of a cloud. I walked a few feet and spun around, then I realized that I didn’t know where I was. I was only steps from the porch, but I didn’t know which way it lay.
Once upon a time, in a faraway land called Uz, there was a guy named Job. He was definitely one of the best guys around. He feared God and avoided evil. He was generous, kind, hardworking—overall, a good, godly man.1
Not only was Job a good guy, he also had a pretty great life. He had money, land, livestock, and servants. He had a wife and ten children.2 He was healthy. He was a respected figure in the community and had friends everywhere. Everyone knew who Job was.3
The story of the three little pigs begins with the piglets being sent out into the world to “seek their fortune.” The first little pig builds a house of straw, but a wolf blows it down. The second pig builds a house of sticks with the same result. Each exchange between the wolf and the pigs features the ringing proverbial phrase:
I was on my way to visit a friend. As the bus approached the hospital where she was staying, a nervous shudder went through me, and I fumbled for a fitting greeting. My friend had always been sickly, and within the past year, she’d struggled to fight off several aggressive infections. Now, a major surgery had resulted in complications.
The Brazilian writer and poet Cora Coralina, from a very poor family, became a famous teacher and author. She left many wise sayings in her books, one of which was: “The most important things in life are our choices!” She meant to teach her students that being rich or good-looking or other things society values are not as crucial as learning to make the right choices in life.
Recently, two friends, my brother, and I participated in a very special event—the Fisherman’s Friend Strongman Run! This 15 km route includes 30 obstacles of varying difficulty. There’s sticky mud which sucks your feet down rapidly, and you have to keep moving to stay on top. Then there are icy river sections to swim or wade through, testing endurance. Nets, trenches, tires, steep dirt slopes—all good reasons to justify to oneself, I just couldn’t make it. But the fact is, it’s possible.
It was summer and I was on a youth mission trip on the northern coast of Poland. As our trip came to a close, our base in Warsaw was sending a van to pick most of us up, while Nick, René, and I planned to head back by train/bus/hitchhiking. I have no idea how this harebrained plan was conceived, but for some reason, we thought it was great.
The cares of this life and its many burdens and worries can easily distract you from your close fellowship with Me, and fear of failure can cloud your ability to look to Me and have faith that I hear your prayers and love you and want to bless you. I want to raise you up from your burdens and give you a new start. I want to make you a testimony and a witness of My love.