Many thanks to our guest writer, Tony Fuller, who lives on a cattle farm in Missouri, is a recovering Walmart executive, and a founding partner in The Barnabas Team, a consulting and growth facilitating firm.
Have you ever made a decision, only to come back later, with the full benefit of hindsight, and realize that it was a really poor decision? Recently I made such a decision (once again), which reminded me of the Proverb which says “There is a way which seems right to a man, but it’s end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 14:12).
We were on a road trip to visit family and were moving some things which required pulling a trailer. While we were there, road conditions deteriorated due to snow. As we were preparing to leave I heard a noise coming from one of the front tires, but convinced myself that it was nothing big. I thought it was probably weather or trailer-related and that we would be fine.
You see, I really needed to get on the road. We had a plan, and just couldn’t be delayed. It seemed right to stick to it so we said our goodbyes and prayed that we would arrive safely in Anderson, our home town.
Less than an hour into the trip, the sound returned with a vengeance, the steering became very difficult, and we could hear bits of debris hitting the underside of the car. Clearly, there was a serious problem! I pulled off at the next exit, and to my great relief there was a dealer just a few hundred feet from the ramp.
The service department confirmed the significant issue I had underestimated. Upon completing the paperwork, I asked where we were, to which he replied, “Anderson.” We had to chuckle, for God had indeed answered our prayer to deliver us safely to Anderson . . . just in a different state!
As I have reflected on this episode, there are a few lessons that have a broader application to our roles at home and in the market place. We all make many decisions each day. We develop plans and execute them. We have hopes, dreams and objectives. God created us with freedom to choose, to decide, so this is our way of life.
1. How we make our decisions is important. Are we willing to make adjustments to changing circumstances? Do we listen to the “still small voice” within suggesting that we change our direction? Do we seek counsel, and if so, where do we go? Have we properly assessed the risks, openly and thoroughly prayed through them? Sometimes God has a different, better path for us to follow.
On the day we left, I ignored that inner nudge (reinforced by a loud grinding sound) to chart a different path. I was so locked in on my way that I was going to push past any obstacles in my way. Determination, perseverance and hard work are greatly admired in the marketplace, but so are the traits of listening and discernment.
2. Seeking and embracing God’s plan is crucial. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “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 direct your paths.” Many times I have used that verse to counsel others about the plans they are making. The longer that I live, the clearer it becomes that God is the only one who knows what is best and desires that we recognize and apply this principle.
I’m glad that we did pray before taking off on that snowy day. The miles we traveled, thanks to my bad plan, were anything but peaceful. We had a car with a bad wheel so the journey was laborious and dangerous. I’m so thankful that we are blessed with a loving Heavenly Father, who is greatly interested in the many details of our life and the good works he planned for us before we were born. He also possesses a great sense of humor, like making sure he landed us in the wrong Anderson!
3. Bad choices don’t have to define us. All of us will make some poor decisions along the way, but the key seems to be learning from them and choosing a better way as we go forward. I believe that God’s desire is for us to keep growing in our hunger for and openness to His great purposes. May we find peace in knowing that He is in the midst of life’s unpredictable changes.
Lord, as we go our different ways today, I pray that they will be in Your way. Keep us attentive to Your voice, make us willing to bend to Your way. Help us prayerfully hunger for You. Remind us constantly that Jesus is The Way, The Truth, and The Life, and in Him we find peace.
“Even the knowledge of my own fallibility cannot keep me from making mistakes. Only when I fall do I get up again.”
Vincent Van Gogh