On the TV show Flash Forward, they have been struggling with whether the universe balances itself out and always ends up on the same path regardless of whether certain decisions change the path for which we get there. When one of the characters Olivia decided to go to one college rather than another, she ended up marrying Mark instead of Lloyd. But, according to the TV show lately, ultimately Olivia and Lloyd are together. Every path chosen ends up at the same major end.
This is a deep matter which could involve huge philosophical, scientific, and religious debate. Certainly there is evidence of this in my own life, for example, with how my wife Heather and I got together. I had several "opportunities" to move to North Carolina before I did. We also vacationed in the same city, Virginia Beach, each as children. For someone from North Carolina and Pennsylvania to have the same yearly vacation spot is certainly very convenient. When we finally did meet, we fell in love very quickly and now have been married almost 7 years.
I believe life is a continual series of crossroads, where we continue to make decisions which affect the path which we travel. Some of the crossroads can radically alter the path with which we were headed. Others can do so in a much more subtle manner. Whether or not the end destinations truly changes is a source of continual debate for centuries, but I believe the destination is already drawn for us.
In the past few years I have seen several of my friends make the minor and major life altering decisions. My friend Drew decided several years ago to leave IBM and enlist in the army. It was, of course, a radical change in direction. If he had decided at that crossroads to stay with IBM or even change jobs, it would have been slightly less dramatic of a change. Another friend, John, recently came to a major decision point and decided to move from rural Minnesota to New York City and change jobs. Another major decision at the crossroads. These are huge life changing decisions but its interesting to note that the other choice each of them had was to plod forward on their current direction. Even if they continue on their current direction, those decision makers are at the crossroads nonetheless.
I see myself at the crossroads often and I see that now as much as any time. This month marks my 10th year at IBM (May 8), 8th year in Raleigh (May 22), the last month of my 7th year of marriage, and my 31st birthday. I feel as if this is a good time to check our family's direction and speed to see if we are heading in the right direction. Another factor in the equation is that we hope to pay off our house this year and with that comes some flexibility - what we choose to do with the education for our children, what investments we might make, and where we might give more of our time, talents and treasures. In the next year of my life, I feel that I will sit at many crossroads making decisions that will affect us even if the decision is to bear down and stay the course.
So, how do I make these decisions at a crossroads? I try to use my faith (although am far from perfect) and try to allow God to show me the way in these decisions. Some time ago I read this blog where the author laid out 5 steps to make good decisions for people who have faith in God based on Acts 16. Here is my adaptation that I go through.
- Consider the circumstances and alternatives carefully - weigh the options and list pros and cons.
- Conclude (make a decision) what you believe is a good course to go. This means 99% and not 100%. Pray until you reach near certainty.
- Commit your way to the Lord in prayer. Invite Him to block the wrong way and open the right way. Prepare your heart for change if needed.
- Try to go do it. Keep praying. Do not assume all roadblocks are from God but know that some may be. If you feel God putting up that roadblock, go back to prayer and if that continues, go back to step 1.