Crucial Choices Determine Our Course
My weekly men’s group departed recently from our customary look at a book or DVD series to spend a couple months reviewing a devotional. The discussion that particularly caught my attention centered on the theme, “Crucial Choices.”
The week’s lesson included an excerpt from C.S. Lewis’ masterpiece, Mere Christianity. It talked about how the choices we make determine whether we turn into a heaven-bound creature or a hellish one. That, Lewis says, is the difference between joy, peace, and knowledge, or madness, horror, and eternal loneliness.
That prompted considerable reflection on two of my crucial choices, starting with a decision to follow Christ instead of my fleshly, self-centered, emotion-driven desires.
More than three decades later, I can say that to continue as a foul-mouthed, arrogant, partying jerk would have led down a road of ruin. I can easily imagine how my marriage would have dissolved, my family relationships been destroyed, and my career ruined by conflict or burnout.
I thought about another crucial choice after reading a recent magazine interview where former presidential domestic policy adviser Karl Zinsmeister told of building houses for a living earlier in his career.
In the course of the interview he reflected: “I aspired to make it as a freelance writer, and that’s a very good way to go broke.”
I can vouch for that statement. That happened my first year on my own after getting downsized from my job, when I did a mixture of freelancing and public relations work.
“Oh, well, I’ve got to pay some dues and get established,” I thought. The second time that happened, I thought, “Oh, no, not again.” Several years later, when it occurred a third time, I thought, “How could I be so stupid?”
Hitting the Wall
Indeed, about six years after I sensed God telling me He wanted me to concentrate on using my writing talent for Him, I hit a brick wall. Two weeks after we moved to Louisville, Kentucky, a 16-inch snowstorm blanketed the area after a weather forecast of one inch. With the city ill-prepared for the onslaught, that shut everything down for five days.
Back in the pre-everything-sent-by-email era, that meant the material for a newsletter job sent by overnight delivery from Colorado took until the following week to arrive. With not much other work amid the transition, I thought, “I’m sick of this. I need to earn some steady income.”
So I went to a job interview. Soon after, I finished a book written by a guy who I had interviewed a couple years before for a magazine. Now, I had read most of it, but this day I felt compelled to finish the last 50 pages.
The author related how he had suddenly lost his job, but God told him not to protest or take action to get it back, because He didn’t want the author looking to a comfortable position—but to Him.
In the stillness of my office that morning, I sensed Him saying, “Now do what I called you to do.”
Doors Open—and Close
Less than two months later, I got the assignment that launched a steady stream of work with a national magazine, followed by numerous other connections. One door opened another which opened another, which opened another.
Yet there have been plenty of setbacks, too. Over the past seven years I have been downsized by several organizations, including one that used to represent my number one income-producing account.
In addition to an erratic income, I have no six-figure IRA, no paid vacations, and other earthly security. Yet I have no regrets, because I know the joy of fulfilling work, incredible friendships forged because of my freelance connections, and a future in heaven.
It was indeed a crucial choice.