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August 22, 2017

I can remember it clearly as if it just happened. Boris, our much loved South African ballroom dance teacher, bellowing out across the dance floor, “MAKE A DECISION!!” There I was, my beautiful bride in my arms, doing nothing but box steps like a one legged duck trying to swim and my dance teacher had enough. Our dance teacher, of course, saw that I was stuck going in circles not knowing what to do. I had many choices of steps I could take but was paralyzed out of fear and the unknown. Boris was yelling at me to man up and just do something other than what was getting us nowhere. How often do we find ourselves just going in circles and wondering why God isn’t doing something? Is it likely because He is waiting for us to make a decision?

One of the key lessons God taught us BEFORE we went into our wilderness was how important it was to make a decision. All my life I had lived in fear and my parents never allowed me to grow up. Even though I had done many things I don’t think I had made many ‘decisions’ in my life. What I mean by that is that I did not consciously choose a course of action and accept ALL the consequences that stemmed from that action. There were many times when I would act but oftentimes those actions did not stem from a well thought out decision and rarely would I take the consequences for what I had done. Boris really turned my head around on this point and I thank God that he did. In learning how to make decisions on my own and act on those decisions I was beginning the process of maturing. This taught our family how to ‘own’ our decisions and the consequences. This was a critical lesson we would use many times to navigate what God lay out before us.

The three parts to any decision are as follows. The first part is to be made aware of the what the decision is about and what are the consequences. The second part is to engage the free will and decide what to do. Thirdly there is a need to act on that decision and do what was decided. Now you will never have all the details about what needs to be decided but this must not stop you. God typically only gives us a little bit of knowledge about a decision and expects that we will trust Him with the rest. That builds faith and trust in Him which is always good. Next you need to exercise your free will to make the best decision you can. Remember that even no decision is a decision to do nothing. Finally, once the decision is made God expects you follow through with what you decided. If you do not, you will show to God and yourself that you are no better than a hypocrite. This last point is the most critical for it gets to the heart of any decision which is the action which follows.

The action after a decision is what God is really looking for. It is this action that works with God’s will to move us in the direction He wants us to go in. His leading will always lead us to greater maturity and Christ likeness. Jesus clearly laid the importance of action in Matthew 21:28-31. “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He came to the first and said, Son, go and work today in the vineyard. And he answered, I will not; but afterward he changed his mind and went. Then the man came to the second and said the same [thing]. And he replied, I will [go], sir; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of the father? They replied, The first one. Jesus said to them, Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the harlots will get into the kingdom of heaven before you.” You see the Pharisees knew about the ways of God but they did not follow Him. The did not follow up with their very public declaration about following God’s will. They were missing the ‘action’.

There is a story I read in St. Stephen about a group of believers that visited an Amish farm. One man asked the Amish farmer what the difference was between the Amish and themselves. The Amish farmer replied, “Do all of you here have televisions?” All the believers raised their hands. He then asked, “How many here recognize the violence, sex, and profanity on the television is bad for their families?” Again, all hands were raised. He went on to ask, “Now that you have admitted this how many of you are willing to go home and get rid of your TVs?” This time no one raised their hands. “That,” the Amish farmer said, “is the difference between you and the Amish.” You see it is all fine and well to think of something and then make a decision but if it isn’t acted on it is not a decision.

Wanda and I are in a very peculiar place. We have spent years outside church buildings walking with God in the wilderness. As such we have a unique perspective on believers. You see we talk to all kinds of people believers and unbelievers alike. We also get to closely observe the behavior of both groups of people because we don’t fit into either group. Our assessment is, well, that there is no practical difference between the two. We have met hundreds of people and I have to admit I would rather be with an honest unbeliever than with one that claims to know God but behaves just like everyone else around them. It is the disingenuine believer that scares us for they act just like worst of humanity and yet thinks that God will bless them because they use His name. They have done such a disservice to God and to others that actually follow His will that it is heart wrenching to watch. It is like they are crucifying Jesus by their very lives. This should not be. There are too many believers today that will not follow God’s will with action. They want God to do things for them but inevitably they are stuck dancing in circles.

Following God is not easy. As we grow He continually asks of us to engage our will to follow His will. He is asking us to grow up and ‘make a decision’. If you do not see this in your own life then I would seriously consider asking God why. If you are serious about following Him He will lead and He expects you to follow. He expects you to make decisions that show this commitment. He expects you to act on your decisions and accept the forthcoming consequences. These are all reasonable expectations from God for those that say they want to be the Bride of Christ. To not follow Him in obedience is to make mockery of the example of willful obedience Jesus set for us.

Let me ask you a couple of questions. Have you ever listened to a speaker and heard words that spoke directly to your heart and convicted you? You probably were stopped short and thought, “Wow, that relates to me.” Now the real question is, what did you do with those words? What were your actions? Did you confess, repent, change or did you just say, ”wow”? Do you believe that Jesus has ‘done it all’ or that He is calling you to greater levels of obedience to His will? I cannot answer these questions for you, only you can. Wanda and I followed God. He led us through the wilderness and in the end we are not the people that started this journey. We have changed, matured, grown up in trust and faith, leaning on our Beloved for everything. This is not because we are special or different from you. There is only one reason why we have made it through. When God said ‘make a decision,’ we did. For Him. It’s your turn now.