When we make decisions out of fear, sometimes we neglect to take long-term repercussions into consideration. The choices we make in an effort to avoid pain or distress or hardship today may provide short-term relief, but what if these decisions cause greater pain and hardship down the line?
I think of women who stay with abusers because it’s easier to placate and avoid the blow-out that would surely come if they made the hard decision to walk away and start all over, sometimes with little or no support. Scary.
I think of those who see wrongdoing being committed on a regular basis, but fear keeps them silent, heads down, because to speak up might mean the loss of a job, or reputation, or even threat of bodily harm. Scary.
I think of people who know God is real, but fear of life change keeps them stuck in the same old cycle of sin and sorrow. Admitting there is Someone with authority means admitting it’s not us, and that loss of control can seem like a death of sorts. Scary.
I think a problem we have, especially in a culture of instant gratification, is a failure to think long-term. Avoiding conflict, or change, or short-term trials is a natural inclination for all of us; but what of the path that lies beyond those choices?
What if we chose to look further?
We can shout to the woman in the abusive relationship that her future doesn’t have to be this toxic cycle of fear and pain, that healthy relationships aren’t just reserved for “other” people. But will hope of a different life be enough to bolster her courage to do the hard thing?
We can encourage the person to stand up against the evil he sees around him, to be brave and live up to the ethics his conscience demands, but will he dare to see that he is the one placed in this position for such a time as this? That he will live with his decision, one way or another, for the rest of his life?
We can wax poetic about the good, fulfilling and purposeful life found in Christ, but will the one on whom the decision rests see the long-term, eternal value as greater than the immediate ramifications of following God? Will the cost of losing an ungodly relationship or unethical business practice keep them from heaven?
It’s easy when it’s not us.
But it is us.
Look around, friends.
We may not be in one of the situations above, but each of us has the capacity to make unwise decisions from a place of fear. As someone who struggles with anxiety, I totally get this. It’s easier to choose whatever is least uncomfortable in the moment. But we have to look at the big picture, and make decisions based on truth. For ourselves and those who are affected by our choices.
I want, as my friend Debbie said this morning, to redeem the time God has given me. And that means making choices based on God’s agenda, and not my own. Short-term, laying aside comfort, or my own plans for my life can feel painful. But one day, I will stand before my Maker and give an account for my life.
The truth is, we all will.
We will live with our decisions for the rest of our lives, and the choice we make to follow God or to reject him we will live with for eternity. The good news is, while we still have breath, we have the freedom to start thinking long-term and make better decisions.
Love you long time!