As I look back over my life, I remember many occasions when I had decisions to make. As a kid, they were things that now seem small, like which classmates I should give a school picture to or which table to sit at during lunch period. But as I grew older, the decisions felt bigger—like which college to attend, which girl to marry, which job to take, or if I should go to seminary to train to be a pastor. During those seasons of life, things felt unsteady and uncertain. What if I make the wrong decision and I somehow make God unhappy with me? What if people I love and care about don’t like the decision I make? There are a couple things that help keep me grounded during those chaotic times.
First, God calls us to love our neighbors. Galatians 5:13-14 says, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Instead of looking to discern some hidden will of God for my life, I look to the people God has put in my life to freely love and serve. God certainly does have a will or plan for me, but I don’t always have to wonder what it is. I can look to my neighbor and see tangibly what God’s will is for me now: to love and serve that person.
Deciding to love my neighbor has looked like providing for, discipling, and spending time with my children and my wife. Another time it meant walking across the street to get to know my neighbor, hear about his struggles, and pray for him and his family. Currently, I’m loving my neighbor by going to seminary so that I might have an opportunity to care for God’s flock and spread the gospel to those lost people who desperately need to hear about the forgiveness of Christ.
The second thing to keep me grounded is knowing that God has adopted me as His child. Galatians 3:26-27 says, “… for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Instead of worrying so much about what other people will think of me, I can take comfort in the indisputable fact that God loves and cares for me as His dear child. Is it possible that I may make a bad (or even just a less good) decision? Yes, absolutely! Could people think poorly of me because of those decisions? Yup, of course they could! But that doesn’t change the reality of my standing before God. My eternity doesn’t rest on my skill at making decisions, but on God’s decision to baptize me and to make me His beloved child.
While I don’t think I will ever stop feeling overwhelmed by the list of decisions I need to make, I can move forward with confidence knowing that God has called me to love and serve my neighbor, and that my identity is secure in Christ.
Adam McCarlson [FLS first-year] is a 2007 graduate of FLBC.
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