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Archive for the ‘Decisions’ Category

In January, my friend and fellow coach and I took four Bible quizzers to an invitational meet in Goshen, northwest of Fort Wayne.  I had never been to the host church.  My afternoon prior to departure had had a tight schedule and printing off a map was not on my to-do list, since I was not driving.  When Lynn’s time ran even shorter than mine, she asked if I would print off a map and directions.  I did the best I could at the last minute, but what we ended up traveling with was quite unclear and, consequently, we got lost.  (Maybe our second mistake was when we looked around the McDonald’s where we stopped for supper and assumed that the most mature-looking people we could find that did, indeed, live in Goshen, could give us the best directions from the restaurant to the church.)  The result of our late arrival at the meet was that our quizzers missed several rounds of quizzing–which may have cost them a chance of placing well in a particular quiz event.  (It was a humbling moment when the quizzer who had the most to lose willingly forgave without anger or tears.)

We traveled that night under faulty counsel…and we did not journey well.  A phrase, whose source I’m unsure of,  sifted to the top of the pile this morning on one of my “scraps” in the location where collected bits of wisdom have been accumulating lately:  “…counsel our hearts according to the truth.” 

Our quiz meet travel fiasco reminds me that part of journeying well depends on the map you use.  In the moment of pressure in my tight schedule, I had settled for a map that really wasn’t adequate to meet the traveling needs of the next few hours.  It didn’t have enough detail.  It didn’t take into account that we were strangers to the area and might not make the distinction between “County Road 17” and “OLD County Road 17” (or whatever the number was). 

In thinking about journeying well toward whatever is around the bend for our family relative to the next job (replace “job” with the decision of your choice), I am reminded that the map I follow will make a difference.  As we focus on the truth of God’s Word and let our hearts be counseled according to that, the wisdom we gain for the trip will be of the “vertical” variety–God’s wisdom to us.  Our pastor, teaching from the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes, has been reminding us that in the face of the uncertainties of this life, vertical wisdom is the only kind that will see us through. 

Stress or panic might tempt me to look to conventional wisdom alone as the GPS for this journey.  But “counsel our hearts according to the truth” is always-reliable map selection advice  if I want to journey well.

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Yesterday, my husband’s place of employment announced it will essentially close its doors at the end of this academic year.  http://fw.taylor.edu/home/news/news_detail.shtml?inode=77392   After having worked there for 23 years, needless to say, this translates to big changes ahead.  Once the initial “trickles” found their way down my cheeks (there may be more tears to come, possibly of the dam bursting variety, but I am just one of those people who emotes via my tear ducts–poor Zach!  He is distressed by it, but I realized yesterday that maybe I should tell my teenage son that this is a good husband training opportunity–learning how to handle a woman’s tears!), I began to reflect.  I am encouraged that the thankfulnesses, the glass half full moments, the little glimmers of exciting times that just might lie ahead have been able to break through the initial potential for despair and, at least at this moment, seem to be tipping the balance toward hope.

Reasons for hope in place of despair?

1)  We are in the same boat many have found themselves in–only ours is much bigger than some have had.  We have eight months of employment ahead of us–time to pray, to seek, to plan.

2)  We have a support network.  An almost instant email after the announcement became public, a call from one of our small group friends, comments on Facebook–all words of encouragement, assurances of prayers.  And we don’t travel the journey alone–many have expressed their sadness at the death of a dream, the feeling of loss, yet in the same breath comes an expression of confidence because…

3)  The God who brought us to Fort Wayne Bible College/Summit Christian College/Taylor University (same institution of higher education, three different chapters of its history) is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made.  Though we did not see this coming at this time, He has known it from eternity.  He has been shaping us in ways we haven’t realized, getting us ready for this exact crossroad.  He will show us which path to take, has already packed our bags with what we will need for the journey, and has promised to be our guide.

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“You’re up way past your bedtime, Daughter.”

“I know–I’ll probably regret it tomorrow.  Definitely violating the ‘every student deserves a well-rested teacher’ principle.  But I’ve been writing and thinking, and I’m thinking now about that deal in front of Meijer today.  I still am not sure what I should have done.  You saw the whole thing, of course.”

“Yes.  People were saying afterward that it was a good thing that the firemen ‘just happened’ to be there when those people had a need.  Comments like that always make me chuckle.”

“Sure… yeah, but…Well, when I got out of my car to go into the store, there they were–these fireman gathered around someone lying on the ground up near the store but still in the parking lot, close to the back of someone’s car.  There was another car parked in the driving lane of the lot.  There were a couple of store people there too.  I couldn’t tell if the person on the ground had been hit or had collapsed or what.  I heard one of the firemen, kneeling by the person in need, asking if he–I think it was a he, just by the bit of clothing I saw–could move his toe.  I tried not to gawk and kept on walking, but the sight that I couldn’t escape even as I passed by was the woman standing there.  She obviously was someone connected with the person around whom this drama focused.  She wasn’t crying–appeared more to be in shock, really.  She held her hands up, covering her mouth as though she might be trying to keep a scream from escaping.  Momentarily, I felt I should turn out of my way and go over and give her a hug (I think that’s what I would have wanted…just to know that I was not alone in this endless moment).  But my feet kept walking and, as the store door opened before me, the image of the priest and the Levite who passed by the wounded man on the Jericho road before the Good Samaritan stopped to help flashed through my mind.  But I kept on walking.”

“Why do you suppose you did that–kept on walking, I mean?”

“I know it wasn’t that I was in a hurry.  I had three hours that I could have spent, and it wouldn’t have made a big dent in my day.  Zach was at work and I was running some errands.  I didn’t want to be in the way…I never really want to make a scene.  I wasn’t afraid of not knowing what to say and do–I’ve been on the scene of accidents on my street a time or two (Remember that time the guy got killed in the motorcycle accident right at the end of my driveway?  When my feet propelled me out there in the pouring rain to hold an umbrella over the man’s face and the heads of those who were trying to help him, that seemed like the most natural place in the world to be at that moment.).  But today I just kept walking…that bothered me.  I kept asking myself what I’d been waiting for–an out-loud voice telling me what to do?  I don’t know…”

“So, what did you do next?”

“You know–When I came out of the store, the fire truck and firemen were gone.  There was an ambulance there and the person who’d been on the ground was nowhere in sight.  I always think, when the ambulance doesn’t rush right off, that’s not a very good sign.  I always figure the person must have died.  Or I guess he could have been in the ambulance getting patched up or something.  I still wasn’t really thinking so much about the victim, though, because there was that lady again.  Someone had brought a bench out there and she was sitting on it, with another lady.  That lady had her arm around the the connected-to-the-victim lady, and they were talking.  That made me glad….relieved, really.  I prayed that the bystander lady would be a comfort to the other one.”

“That’s good–praying is always good.”

“I haven’t told you the craziest part yet.  As I drove away, I wondered a) how many people, like me, had just walked by and not stepped over to offer any help and b) how many Christians, like me, had been among them.  I wondered if the lady who did stop by was a Christ follower–I hoped she was.  Then came the crazy part.  I made one more quick stop–at Big Lots.  It’s only about a mile or so away.  When I came out of that store, I had the strongest urge to go back to Meijer, and, if that lady was still there, just get out of my car and tell her I’d been there earlier and felt like I just needed to come back and see if there was anything I could do for her.  I came that close to turning left out of that Big Lots parking lot, but I turned right and went on my way.”

“So, Daughter, what is it, exactly, that is troubling you about all this?”

“Here’s just it:  Was it You telling me?  In the big picture of things, does it matter what I did, when all those other people saw the situation too and kept on walking too?  Was it a “should” or a “could”–or doesn’t that part matter?  Was this a “do it to the least of these” moment that I missed?  Was it me violating the Golden Rule–again?  It’s easy to say, ‘I can’t help everyone.’ and then help no one.  I’ve been telling the 3rd-graders to whom I teach religious ed that my neighbor is the person who needs help that I can give.  After all these years, am I still not very good at knowing when it’s You talking to me….Oh, boy….Just tell me:  Daddy, what would you have done?” 

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“I have a question for you, when we’re done with this,” said one of my fifth-grade religious education students today.  I admired his mature ability to discern that asking his question right then would have disrupted the flow of what we were talking about.

When we finished our lesson on The Lord’s Prayer, I returned to Keyontay and his question:  “Who are you going to vote for for president?”

Gulp!  I have learned the hard way that there are some questions you don’t answer directly in religious education class.  This is one of them. 

Searching for a good answer that wouldn’t seem evasive, this is what I said (Whenever I come home with some delicate question a religious ed student has come up with, Michael’s next question to me is always, “Well, what did you say?”, so I’ll save you asking.):  “I’m not going to tell you who I’m voting for, except to say that the person I wanted to vote for is no longer running.  But, here’s a more important question:  Why would you vote for whoever you’re voting for?  I think you have to look at two things when you’re voting for a president.  First, what kind of person is this?  Is he honest?  Can he be trusted?  Has she shown herself to be wise?  What a person is like in personal affairs will have a bearing on how he acts in public life.  Second, is this person qualified for the job?  Does this person have the experience, wisdom, and skills that are needed to do the things a president is called on to do?  ”  

Nobody argued with that.  I heard a few “I’d vote for Obama” comments, and then class was over.  (Whew!)

So, what did I leave out?  That’s my question for you. 

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Nose on My Face   Our family has a decision to make.

We have homeschooled all three of our children for their entire school career.  It has been a good journey for us, not without some challenges (rare is the problem-free trip), but with far more benefits than detriments. 

Now, our last student, a 15-year-old freshman in our home school, has asked if he might attend the public high school that sits within a mile down the street from our house.  This is the school where several of his peers in our church youth group attend.  (This, in itself, does not, to our way of thinking, constitute an adequate reason for granting this request.  We have been served well by “If-your-friends-jumped-off-the-roof-would-you-do-it -too?” parenting (that is probably not be the best analogy in this particular situation…).  But, this is an earnest heart cry which we are not about to blow off either.) 

So, we have talked about it…a lot…and often, in the past week since the question was first plopped on the table. 

I just re-read my friend Anna’s post on “Fasting” (2/14/08) at Lent2008  In her list of reasons we might choose to fast, “to seek God’s guidance” appears. 

When I thought about observing Lent this year–a new experience for me–I thought fasting might be part of that.  But I didn’t envision it coming in this form.

Plain as the nose on my face?

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