Our Lives are full of Decisions

There it sits, huge, bright and shining, consuming the landscape like the sun rising over a distant horizon. It glares at me, a decision to be made, one too long deferred.

The familiarity of this situation is both soothing and disturbing. It is why I love Robert Frost. His poem, “The Road Not Taken,” so very well describes the experience. “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both, And be one traveler, long I stood…” I know it by heart.

As with his fictional traveler, I once again find the path forward is unclear, “that the passing there had worn them really about the same, both that morning equally lay in leaves no step had trodden black.” He takes the one less traveled, but often that approach fails to capture the essence of the predicament we feel.

It is just this lack of clarity that drives my anxiety. Uncertainty is not my friend. The weight lies heavily on my soul, rising up when I least need another stressor, a specter in the black of night. I lay awake while the demons of doubt circle their prey.

I have far too often stood at such a precipice. Jump or stay? Take a risk or not? Life demands an answer, yet often we recoil from that necessity. Regardless, a verdict must be leveled. A choice will be made, and we will be left with the remains of the day.

Like kids waiting anxiously on a schoolyard as the captains select their kickball team, each option pleads with us, “Pick me! Pick me!” Yes, we must pick, or forfeit the choice and get the default. We won’t have the optimal player but perhaps the one our team deserves. The failure to act gives us no claim on success other than by pure happenstance. Too often we falter at the critical moment and find that to do nothing is to let fate decide,

I have beseeched God for an answer, or at least a “sign.” He responds aplenty. The problem isn’t the things that happen to us, it is in deciphering the message. The signals are often mixed. A chance encounter or a word of encouragement, which way do they point?

I suppose that like many of my generation, whose fathers were demanding, I seem ever to seek his approval though he is no longer here to judge. He once stated that my greatest challenge in life would be to figure out how best to use the gifts that God gave me. In Jesus’ words, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded.” It seems that both my Fathers are bearing down hard.

This weekend, the collapse of travel plans left me alone, but gave me the solitude to reflect. Another indication that I needed to get myself in order. Removing the distractions of everyday life does help bring clarity, but It seems harder to make the decision when you focus exclusively on making it.

At least I was in a beautiful setting at the beach in Tampa. Not a bad place to purge yourself of the triviality that consumes our lives, free from the buzzing cloud of gnats that distract us from the truly important things. Yeah, I know its hard to feel sorry for someone in this position, much less empathy, but bear with me.

I do not know how God speaks or when the Holy Spirit moves us. But I believe I have had that experience, and I felt it last evening. While watching the sun set over the bay it came to me, a feeling of such intensity. My eyes filled with tears and I asked aloud, “Dad, when is it enough? When have I done enough?” I felt release…freedom. I no longer must do “something” to prove my worth. Then I asked God, “Now, what is it that you want me to do?” I now know that whatever my choice, it will be enough in His eyes.

How often do we walk this road, with divergent paths, the future unsighted? How do we make choices where they all seem to have a relevant claim and a price to pay? I believe things unfold in their own good time. Still, we must take a positive action because fate is a harsh mistress.

Life may not always work out the way we plan, but it does unfold a future full of its own opportunity. In that we must have faith.

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