I wrote the following a month ago, at the turning of the New Year, as I readied myself for my sixth semester at Biola, without much intent to publish it. Now, midway through February, I am reminded of what I wrote and encouraged again, and I desired to share what God has been teaching me in the past year with all of you. I hope it encourages you in some small way.
01.03.15: I’m ushered into this year a little more soberly than I had been hoping, and the soberness is entirely unexpected. As many of you know, 2014 was a year of a great amount of changes for me, as well as a great amount of difficulty. So many of you played crucial roles in helping me along, strengthening me, encouraging me, and keeping me upright, and I can never thank all of you enough. You have truly been life-changing to me and my small world.
The majority of the struggles of my past year have been centered around decision making. Some decisions were small and inconsequential, and others were not, and others still appeared to be small and inconsequential but in fact were not at all. Those are the ones I’d like to focus on for now, because I realized that those types of decisions—the ones you don’t notice at first—are the ones that can really make the biggest difference.
I’m not a horribly superstitious person, I don’t think absolutely every little thing that happens happens for a reason, but I am someone who is a firm believer in the domino effect. What I mean by that is this: I took ballet as a child. Because I took ballet as a child, when my freshman year of high school came around and there was a musical to audition for, I auditioned to be a dancer. I did get casted, but not as a dancer. Instead, I was casted in a somewhat large role and asked to consider acting in Advanced Drama. I did consider it, and was in the class for my junior and senior years. Subsequently, I discovered I absolutely loved theater. And because of my new-found but passionate love for theater, my sophomore year of college I auditioned for Torrey Theater’s Death of a Salesman, and got the lead female role. And because I did that, I am where I am now—all, arguably, because I took ballet as a child.
The dominoes, though, all fell through a series of decision making. It was my parents decision to put me through ballet as a child and my own decision to audition for The Music Man. I then decided to try for Advanced Drama, and once I had grown as an actor felt confident enough to try it in college. When I made up my mind to audition for Salesman—I can still see exactly where I was—did I think it was going to flip my world upside-down? No, of course not. And that’s my point exactly: I was giving a small, student-lead production an audition and nothing more, without any conviction that I would even snag a role. But then I did snag a role, and a whole lot more to go with it.
The thing that I’m learning, and that God has been teaching me over the past eight months, is that when you pursue the kingdom of God, the decisions you need to make really don’t function in the world of black-and-whites. I used to think they did, and I would refuse to do anything at all until I had a direct line from heaven telling me exactly what to do. Unsurprisingly I got very little accomplished. Because God doesn’t work like that, He doesn’t send lightning bolts to His children and strike them with the all-inspired, omniscient, “correct” thing to do—and I’m awfully glad He doesn’t. If He did, there would be absolutely no reason for faith, and our hope in His promises would be dead.
We are saved by faith. Redemption is found in Christ—by faith. How was Abraham made righteous? Was it by always getting a yes or a no from God, or by black-and-white scenarios? No, not at all: Abraham was made righteous through faith. That means there will come a time when you need to make a decision, and there won’t be any clear-cut answer, there won’t be an obvious yes or no, and that’s where faith steps in. That is what I was faced with in the past year, and what I came to realize is that decisions must be made in faith.
Does this mean to throw reason out the window, and make decisions willy-nilly and attribute it to a blind trust in God? Don’t be silly. Reason is a blessing we must employ. The point is, though, that sooner or later reason will fail you: you will be faced not with a clear logical-or-illogical fork in the road, but a this-is-good-and-so-is-this-so-what-do-I-do fork in the road, and what then? What then is wisdom, and prayer, and above all faith. I cannot stress it enough: we cannot do this on our own, or by our own strength. How blessed are we that we have a God who is big enough, and who loves us more than we can ever comprehend, who can accomplish all that we cannot.
All that said, I’m just a twenty-year-old. I still drive my parents’ car, I still live in university housing, and I still make scrap money that buys me coffee and books and not much else. I don’t claim to have the corner market on wisdom for decision making, but I do claim to have a start. It’s wisdom in the little things we don’t notice that make all the difference years down the road. So while I may not be financing a house, or leasing a car, or trying to figure out how to get my kids through college, I’m still forming habits that will follow me throughout my life.
The one decision I can make, though, is to daily, hourly, and constantly, seek God in faith in the little things. That way when the big things come along, I can say with David, “When I thought, ‘My foot is slipping,’ your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.”