I’ve never been very good at making decisions. Is it a fear of missing out? As I think about standing in front of restaurant menu board it is not that I cannot decide between two things that I love. Rather, I know its possible that I would make a decision, receive my compensation, and be disappointed. Now I am stuck with it because this was what I paid for. That greasy burger ended up making me feel nauseous, but that was the consequence of my decision. I picked wrong. But how would I have known otherwise?
My mom came to me one night when my parents were divorcing, telling me that I had to decide who to live with. “I don’t want to decide,” I said in tears as an 11 year old. I went with whatever made everyone else happy. My preference, which was to have them not divorce, was not an option.
While burgers and parents are two completely different types of choices, there are choices we are asked to make in life and the consequences of those choices can be illusive. We can seek the Lord, He can give us peace, transform our minds, lead us on the narrow path, but we can also be convinced that God is leading us somewhere he might not be (or maybe that’s apart of his sovereignty too… but a conversation for a different time). It may end us up somewhere we consider “not good.”
God, will you leave me alone to screw up my life? My mind and heart ponder this question. In it is woven doubt and pain, but also a deep curiosity. So I googled “verses about God not leaving us alone to screw up our lives” and I came across a story of a man who, potentially outside of wisdom, became convinced that God was leading him (a pastor) to move to a city to start a new church. (Ironic for me to read this.) He didn’t have a job prospect lined up or a house or really much of a plan, and he uprooted his family including small children only to end up a year later in line at a homeless shelter waiting with others for jobs to be handed out to earn some money to put food on the table. “How did I end up here?” he asked himself.
I don’t entirely remember his consolation for his experiences. Something from Job, Psalms, and probably Romans.
I asked my roommates a few weekends ago, “Do you guys know or can you think of any verses that have to do with God and him not leaving us alone to screw up our lives?” One shared “God works all things out for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purposes.” She admitted it was trite, but I understood the sentiment. God works all things for good. Screw ups and bad decisions can be made for good. OK… but it still didn’t bring me consolation.
A week later I was reading Psalms. I’ve been reading Psalms from the beginning for several weeks now and got tired/bored so I flipped to the end and started reading them backwards… strange, I know. But I think God led me to a verse that we are all familiar with, but it stood out to me in this context.
Psalm 139:7-12 (by David)
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
God, will you leave me ALONE to screw up my life? Well, no. There is no place on the entire earth, that though it may seem like it’s covered in darkness, will be dark to God. Darkness is not dark to God. There is no place on earth I can go, no darkness I think I could hide in, there is no grave or place in the sky, there is no place that I could choose to settle where his hand, love, guidance, providence, and grace cannot find me.
So screw up my life?… maybe. Make a decision that ends in pain?…possibly. Become convinced God wants me to do something that might be contrary to biblical wisdom?… I could. But does that remove me from God’s favor or keep him from helping me or guiding me? No, he is ever as close in my successes as in my failures. If I say “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me.” He says, “The darkness is not dark to me, the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to me.” I could settle on the far side of the sea, but still he will never leave me nor forsake me. Even there, His hand will guide me.
And there are plenty of verses about God leading us and lighting the path for our feet. He does guide us. So without negating those truths, I end in the comfort that I can feel secure in the Lord with my decisions even if I make the “wrong” ones because he will continue to be there and uphold me with his right hand. And then it’s humbling because I realize I don’t even really deserve that, but his promised presence is his unmerited favor possible through Christ.
And for that I am grateful.