One of the greatest maladies of our current cultural climate is blame-shifting. We are declining into a victim-based society. People who always have an excuse for not owning their own choices and living with the consequences. From a biblical perspective, owning your own sin and confessing it is the very foundation of repentance.
Owning your own choices is foundational to living free and truly realizing how much God loves to walk this journey with us.
Like everyone, I’ve faced some big decisions in life. Right or left? Go or stay? We’ve all been there. More than once when I prayed for God’s direction…His targeted will; His response was, “It’s your choice this time son. I’m going to bless you whichever way you go. I’m in this adventure with you; not to pre-program you like a robot, but enjoy your journey as a loving Father.”
The trick to enjoying the ride? Embrace and own your choices along the way. Not everyone will agree with your choices, but they are certainly yours and yours alone. There will be consequences both good and bad, but Abba will be there with you.
Nearly six years ago I was faced with some very difficult choices, ones I alone would have to make. Once again I heard the Lord say, “I’m with you. I’m with you all the way.”
After a difficult separation from the church I pastored for 12 years, I wasn’t sure what to do. I entertained a couple of wonderful offers at churches out of state. My dilemma? My mother had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and my special needs child, who had always struggled in school, had finally found his rhythm as a sophomore in high school. We also had a one-year old who was the center of attention for all our extended family. All of our family lives in the Wichita area, our parents on both sides were not getting any younger and my wife and I had firmly made the decision that we were not going to leave them. We needed them. They needed us. Our kids needed their grandparents. Family comes first…at least for this family. I would find work, whatever it may be.
The choice to stay in Wichita would come at great cost. The denomination in which I was raised would not allow me to remain in Wichita and minister at another church. That was understandable. It was the rule…what I signed up for. Polly and I had to choose a different path for our future. Our choice…nobody else’s. When I decided we were staying and not moving away, I was called rogue, rebellious. All the usual stuff. It was even written that the “God of the universe would one day judge…” my decisions. Hurtful…but part of the price I guess. God has judged. He’s a good God.
Our choice proved to be right one…at least for us. I was soon asked to join the staff of a local church where my family would heal and get our legs underneath us once again. I would travel to Nepal on a missions trip, have the opportunity to preach to thousands and personally witness more than 21,000 come to Christ in less than a week. The Lord would then graciously open up a wonderful door to plant a brand new church. With our pastor’s blessing and encouragement, after more than 2 years out of the “captain’s seat,” it was time to run with the vision the Lord had entrusted to us.
More importantly, just two years ago, both my parents would pass away quite suddenly, within 7 weeks of each other. Our choice truly mattered at a time of great crisis.
I will never regret being here for my mother as she battled pancreatic cancer and finally went home to be with Jesus. The months of laughter, tears and conversation with both mom and dad are some of the most treasured blessings I have ever received from God. I’m so grateful I was here for them, to care for them in their last months along with my brother and his family. I’ll never regret not pulling their grandkids away from them in their final years on this earth and moving them far away. Every day my youngest (now 6) is blessed to have his other set of grandparents close by to enjoy. He needed them when he lost his other two grandparents. The little church plant that started with a handful, has blossomed, grown and we enjoy ministry more now than ever.
Was there are price? Yes. Any regrets? Absolutely not.
You see…these choices were mine and mine alone and it was my responsibility to own them. They came with a cost…but they also provided great rewards. God did that. He put some of it in my hands, as long as my heart remained pure and my motives were honorable. But God has been in all of it. Romans 8:28 has been proven true over and over again for the Freemans. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Choices can be difficult. But trust God, don’t lean on your own understanding…and be willing to own your choices. Nobody else will.