Do choices scare you? Maybe not like a slasher flick or that roach you know is somewhere in your kitchen, but scary nonetheless? We all face a glut of choices every day.
Don't believe me? Walk in to your nearest Circle-K and see how many choices there are just for Coke products and dried meats.
When we're faced with choices like that, we have some options before us:
Option 1) Slowly backing away from the wall-to-wall drinks in a fog of bewilderment, convincing yourself you didn't want anything to drink anyway and wondering why you drove there in the first place.
Option 2) Hastily polling everyone in the store so that you know you won't have missed out on the best choice.
Option 3) Walking out of the store with a frosty Vanilla Coke in hand, ready to enjoy it and the rest of your day.
(Vanilla Coke was the right choice, by the way.)
We all have choices to make that go well beyond roadtrip pit-stops. Some have incredible impact and significance to our daily lives, our future, and our personal relationships.
So how do we make the right choices? In his book, All the Places to Go...How Will You Know?, John Ortberg explores the challenges of knowing what to do with our choices, offering some helpful insights along the way.
To frame his writing, Ortberg uses an image straight out of the Bible, one that has a lot of pull in Christian culture (and, frankly, outside of it too): the open door.
He writes, "Biblically speaking, open doors are divine invitations to make our lives count, with God's help, for the sake of others."1
We all want our lives to mean something. Often, we go and try to seek out that meaning, convinced that it couldn't be in this job or this context. Before we know it, we're in a relentless search for identity, for the right open door that will truly define us. At least it my experience, that search seems to always come up lacking.
Ortberg shares, "To believe in the significance of our contributions is an indispensable need of the soul. But to believe that choosing the right door will usher in a nonstop Niagra Falls of motivation is an illusion that will leave us mad at God and frustrated with ourselves. Don't wait for passion to lead you somewhere you're not. Start by bringing passion to the place where you are."2
You may be thinking, "But I don't like where I am. This isn't what I wanted. It's not how things are supposed to be."
I can relate. Believe me, I've made some dumb choices in the course of my life. Like real boneheaded what-was-I-thinking kinds of choices. The funny thing about those choices is that they don't define me. Period.
Realizing that has taken me a while, and what I have found in the process is that God meets us right where we're at, with every choice we've made, every fear or anxiety, every open door we've walked past or through.
In Christ, I have this incredible hope that he can take my circumstances today and make something out of them that I could never anticipate otherwise. That frees me up to find open doors in my context here and now.
Missionary Jim Elliot is famously quoted for saying, "Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God." I want to be all here as long as I am here, wherever here is.
I've been relentlessly encouraged recently with a passage in Psalm 103. It's good. No, seriously click here and take 30 seconds to read it.
Toward the end, David proclaims,
"13 As a father has compassion for his children,
so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him.
14 For he knows how we were made;
he remembers that we are dust."
Did you catch that? God has compassion on us in light of his intimate knowledge of our brokenness. That's pretty amazing grace. Life amid shattered, strained, or strange circumstances is still life full of open doors, and it may be exactly where God can use us the most.
Just look at Ruth. Or Moses. Or Jesus.
There's much more to discuss about open doors and how we move through our lives. Next week, I want to look at how God helps us through open doors and why it is important that we consider the good of others.
What do you think about open doors? Do you feel overwhelmed by choices to make? Or do you feel all your doors have shut? I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments, so hit me up on Twitter @MRossYoung.
On October 8th, CityView is hosting another night of music and conversation. We're going to discuss the significance of wanderlust (aka the desire to move) in our lives. You don't want to miss this, 7pm at the Vintage Arts Center. Be sure to follow CityView on Twitter and Facebook for details and updates.
I hope to see you there. I'll be the one with the Vanilla Coke.
1 John Ortberg, All the Places to Go...How Will You Know? (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2015), 63.
2 Ortberg, 113.