When Decisions Won’t Bend the Trail

Seven years ago, I stood under a star-studded sky in central Texas and made a decision.  With a tinge of dramatic anticipation, I looked to Heaven and prayed my own paraphrase of Jeremiah 26:14: “Lord, do with me as seems good in Your sight.” And then I offered a particularly painful area to Him.

But the outcome of that decision wasn’t quite what I had hoped.

Turning Points

I learned early on that spiritual decisions make spiritual turning points. And turning points are usually exciting. There is a surge of joy in Holy Spirit-prompted surrender, and there can be a rush of anticipation in the biblically-rooted change sure to follow.

So seven years ago, when I knew that I needed this surge of joy and longed for a fresh sense of grace, I made a decision to surrender.

What happened next was…disappointing.

Actually, nothing happened.

No surge of joy.

No rush of anticipation.

No sense of renewed grace.

In reality, the decision I made in Texas seven years ago was but a reiteration of a decision I had made years previous. I had already surrendered every area of my life to Christ. And I had even surrendered that particular area. Rewording and renewing my surrender wasn’t going to change God’s will in this area.

Decisions make for excellent turning points. But they don’t work so well as path-benders. They are needed in directing our steps in God’s will. But they can’t be used to manipulate His will.

Mile Markers

Last week, I had the opportunity to revisit that decision spot. This time, I stood under the afternoon Texas sun and reflected on the past several years.

Looking back, I can see many changes the Lord has worked in my life through the area I surrendered to Him. No pivotal or spectacular moments of change—just steady growth and maturity brought by His Spirit. In fact, there were many, many days that I simply renewed my decision to trust the Lord to work in ways I couldn’t see.

And He did!

In my disappointment at not seeing immediate change or sensational growth, I missed noticing what the Lord was doing in my life through the daily discipline of trust.

Early decisions may provide immediate joy in surrender. But as we purpose to live out those commitments, we experience another joy—the joy that comes only through daily discipline.

Sometimes decisions are turning points, and sometimes they are mile markers. They are never trail-benders.

Sometimes—most often, in fact—they are daily steps toward an amazing, God-designed destination.