Actually, "fork in the road" decisions are usually the easiest decisions to examine. I either chose the right path. Or I chose the wrong one.
"Yeah, I probably shouldn't have eaten that last helping of potato salad, especially after it had been sitting there on that picnic table . . . all afternoon . . . in the sun." Or, "I'm sure I have enough gasoline to make it to the next exit. I'm sure there be will be a gas station there . . . right?" Sometimes it's rather obvious. We're either right or we're wrong.
Complex types of decisions are a lot more like stepping stones across a river than they are forks in the road. There are many more paths to choose, many more variables in our decision-making process. What appears to be an easy path can suddenly become more difficult when the stones become slippery when wet or the rocks we have chosen to step on are wobbly and unstable.
Just like the chicken crossing the road, the goal when crossing a river is to get to the other side . . . without getting wet. There may appear to be many ways to accomplish the crossing but if we end up knee-deep in the water, the journey is not going to be as enjoyable or rewarding.
Most of us tend to go through our lives without examining the stones we're about to step on. We just take a step, figuring everything will be alright. Suddenly the rock moves underneath our feet and it's too late. We're soaked.
A wiser person would take the time to pick a route in advance. They might say to themselves, "The last time I stepped on a rock that looked like that I got wet. I think I'll try this one instead." Experience is a great teacher. But a better teacher would be listening to someone who has already crossed the river. They already know the right steps to take. They have already made it to the other side. It would be foolish not to gain from their experience and heed their advice. However we don't usually do that because that would mean depending on someone else. Sometimes, we humans can be so stubborn!
Most of our daily decisions are unimportant. Paper or plastic? regular or decaf? Other decisions can have bigger consequences. "I think I can handle just one more drink" or "I can't really afford to have a baby right now. Maybe I'll just make it go away."
Take a look back at your own life. Are there any decisions you made that you'd like to change? Sure there are. We all have them. Now the only thing we can do is to live with all of the decisions we've made. And hopefully learn from them. If only there was a way to eliminate all those bad choices, the stupid decisions we naively made that ended up costing us dearly. Pssst. Guess what? There is . . . a way.
The Bible is an amazing instruction manual, in additional to being the infallible, always truthful, Word of God. You know that B.I.B.L.E. acronym right? Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth. Use God's Word as your GPS - God's Positioning System. (Wow! I just used two acronyms in one paragraph!!)
Before we take our next step in life, before we make our next decision, ask God what He thinks about it. He's seen every decision everyone has ever made. Ask Him what He would do. "Which path would you choose God?"
What I have learned, as a 60-year-old follower of Jesus, is to make sure all of my decisions are honoring to God and according to His will. "But how can I find out what God's will is for me?"
Three words . . . . read . . . the . . . Bible!
There is nothing worse, when looking back on the steps we've taken in our lives, than to say "I should have . . ." or "If only I'd known . . ." It is much better to look back on one's life and see nothing but God-honoring decisions made. And when someday we find ourselves on the other side of the river (hopefully with dry feet) we can look up at God and hear him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant."
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." - Proverbs 3:5-6
I have two links for you today. The first is to a short film called "180." It is a story about decisions made and the consequences. Nearly 4 million people have watched it. It's 30 minutes long.
The second link is to a song by Skillet. It's about the father of a child who was never born. One of those decisions made that now he wishes he could change.