I’ve made some bad decisions in my time.
I decided to kiss the Methodist preacher’s daughter in high school. I was so thrilled, on the way home I wrecked my parent’s car. Later, she dumped me at the prom. In hindsight, the kiss wasn’t worth wrecking the car.
I decided the creek couldn’t be that deep. Four-wheel drive would get me through, right? Four-wheel drive is amazing, but it doesn’t help when the truck floats. Do you know what happens when a truck engine sits in water overnight? I don’t really know either, but it cost me a two hour lecture when the bill came in.
I decided to turn a paper in after a deadline in grad school, figuring it wouldn’t be a big deal. Turns out, it was a big deal. A very big deal. A humiliating big deal. Being on probation in grad school is not a good thing.
I decided once to tell my fiance’ (now my wife) I knew more than she did. Turns out, I was wrong. She knew all kinds of things I didn’t know, including some precise observations about my character and lack of good judgment.
I decided once to tell off the deacons of the church I pastored. I did it in a sermon. I preached with power and passion. It felt good to step down after that message. It didn’t feel good a couple weeks later, looking for a new job.
Bad as these decisions were, they aren’t even close to my worst decisions.
Too many times I have decided I know more than God. Ever sign, ever message from Him told me to run the other way. I decided I could handle the temptation and went my own way. I gave in, every single time. Every single time. Bad decision not to run.
I’ve known God wanted me to love my enemies, but I was convinced God didn’t understand how much I had been hurt. I held grudges, carried bitterness, and with great hypocrisy, pretended everything was all right. Grudges, bitterness and pretense are heavy loads to carry. I’ve worn myself out holding onto past hurts. Bad decision not to forgive.
I’ve judged people because of their poor choices. I’ve smugly looked at their life wreckage and thought “I’m too smart to let that happen to me.” I’ve wound up pretending like nothing is ever wrong in my own life. I’ve put forth a face that says, “I’m a pastor and I have it all together.” The truth is, I’ve got plenty of my own wreckage. It’s exhausting to live like you have it all together all the time; no one does. Bad decision not to be real.
I’ve been quick to speak and slow to listen. Sometimes, before people finish their sentences, I’ve already thought of a good reply. I rush to speak because deep down, I hunger for people to say, “What a wise man he is.” In my anxiety, I miss the person and their reality. Bad decision to not be “slow to speak and quick to listen.”
Looking at all my bad decisions (and there are plenty more), I can get discouraged. Then I remember the best decision I ever made.
Long ago, in a moment of humility, I admitted to God I was failure (sinner was the word we used). I asked God to forgive me. I told him I wanted Him to be in charge of my life.
That day, God adopted me as His child. Whenever I make a bad decision, God forgives me. He teaches me. And, amazingly, He takes my bad decisions and brings good out of them. He straightens out the wreckage of my life and gives me hope.
That one decision takes care of every bad decision I ever made.
Now, I need to make a decision about a piece of chocolate cake…