Unorthodox Decision Making
I want to tell you a little story of some salt and some sugar that totally changed my life.
I know, “salt and sugar”… it sounds like a really crappy 80’s pop group.
What it was was a decision-making example that a friend laid out for me back in 2001, and it totally rocked my world. I was sitting in a Denny’s, and at the time, I was thinking of transitioning between two different jobs. I was thinking, “Do I take some time off between these two jobs and go on tour for one last time in one of my bands?”
My friend told me, “Hey there’s a whole bunch of different things going on in life and for every kind of ‘what if’ in life, you have a very safe and secure ‘yeah but’”.
None of these were anything that were irresponsible or ridiculous, but he said “Hey, what if we went out on tour between your jobs?”
My “yeah but” was, “Yeah… but I have an apartment.”
So, I was paying rent. Sure, I could always get a new apartment. But for me, it was just kind of a comfort thing.
And so, he lays out this little illustration that totally changed my thinking.
He grabs one of those pink sugars and one of those blue sugars – those things that some people use in their coffee or iced tea or whatever, they’re always down at the end of the table next to the half used ketchup and the crusty mustard. So, he pulls them out and puts them on opposite ends of the table. And then he grabs the saltshaker and puts it right in the middle table. And he pauses one of those dramatic pauses, like I’m supposed to go, “WHOA! It’s so clear now!” But, really, what I wanted to say was, “What are you doing?”
So, he says, “Right now this is you – you’re the saltshaker, OK? Where you’re at right now is next to the pink sugar. The pink sugar is safe. It’s what you know. It’s what you have. It’s a lack of risk. It’s a lack of stepping out. It is safe.
But over here is the blue sugar. The blue sugar is the unknown. But, it’s what you want. It is your risk. It is the reward. It is a challenge. It is something new. But you’ll never get to the blue if you don’t let go of the pink.
You will never get to what you want if you’re not willing to risk and step away from what is.
It’s not about salt and sugar, its about you knowing and seeing what is comfortable, and yet not willing to step out of what is comfortable because you want something so much more.
And, I think there’s a lot of us who have dreams. We have opportunities. We have ideas that we really want to implement. There are ministries we want to start. There are conversations we want to have. There are risks that we want to take. There are jobs that we want to change. There are all these different things in life that we cannot see, but we have a desire to reach for.
And yet, we look at what we know, and we look at the comfort, and we are not willing to let go of the comfort to get to that dream.
I heard this quote once (and I’m probably misquoting it, but that’s what I do):
Between what you have and what you want is always work. And once you put in the work, you can get what you want.
But, I’m going to change it a bit to this:
Between what you have and what you want, there is fear, there are choices, there is wonder.
Now, as Christians, we still live in the same thing. But a lot of times, we think that we’re supposed to have a comfortable life. God did not come and die on a cross so that we could have a comfortable life. He came that we should have life and have it more abundantly. He says we should have purpose in our lives. He talks about how we are designed for a reason and yet sometimes we never find that reason or never choose to live that reason because between where we’re at and where He wants us is fear… or even worse than fear, there is comfort.
You ever find yourself looking at something that you really, really want? Or, maybe it’s even worse because you know God wants you to pray for this person, or God wants you to say “hi” to someone, or you just have that feeling like, “I’m really supposed to do something right now. I’m supposed to pull the car over and take this dude through the drive-through and take care of him.”
And yet you don’t.
Yeah, we could justify that, but I’m guessing the real reason behind your lack of action is comfort. You’re not in that big of a hurry. You’re not that afraid of using words. You’re not that afraid of talking to new people or meeting new people. You have the answers. But, you’re nervous. We’re uncomfortable.
Every time we say no to that, it makes it harder to do it the next time. I think that’s why a lot of us live comfortable lives – because we quit taking risks years ago, and now we will never have anything. We will never be able to look back and say, “DANG! That’s what I did!”
We worry about our comfort.
2 Corinthians 5:7 says this:
For we live by faith, not by sight.
What Paul is saying in the middle of all this is: as Christians, we live in such a way that we follow God. Maybe it’s not everything that we are seeing, but it’s how we are led, it’s how we are called. But a lot of us have started to focus on what is right in front of us – what we can see. We we can feel right now. We live in the “now” and not in the “what should we be doing”.
A lot of us are holding onto what we know and we’re never willing to get a hold of what God wants for us, because were not willing to take that risk. As Christians, we are supposed to live by faith – not just “by comfort”. Not just by “what we know”. But, we live by faith.
One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 3:5-6. Is says:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will keep your paths straight.
When we trust in the Lord with all of our heart… when we really say,
“God, You are more important than my comfort, or my hobby, or anything that I can feel, taste, touch, smell… experience right now. Whatever I have right now, You are more important than that! And so, I’m going to trust in You all I’ve got. I’m not going to lean on what I know. I’m not going to lean on my comfort, or the stuff that has gotten me here. I just want to trust in You. I want to acknowledge You in everything that I do.”
Now, this doesn’t mean going out and getting a Christian tattoo or wearing a What Would Jesus Do t-shirt, or wearing a giant cross. But it is living in such a way that you acknowledge Him. And when we acknowledge God, that means with our words, actions, deeds, the way I treat my kids, the way I interact with people in traffic, the way that I treat someone who has 18 items in the 15-item-or-less lane at the grocery store…
I’m supposed to acknowledge God in every aspect of my life!
And so, with that, as I am acknowledging God, and I lean NOT on my own understanding, He starts to make my path straight. He starts to lead me in such a way that I start to see His will and follow it more and more.
Again, it goes from “seeing what I see” to “living by faith”. And, what I have seen throughout my life is that the more any of us follow God, the more God leads us. Conversely, the more we ignore God, the less we hear God’s leading voice.
So, as we acknowledge God in our lives, He is going to continue to lead us.
We have strong desires in our hearts! And, I believe that as long as those desires are in alignment with God’s Word, He has put those desires in you. He is calling you out of the worldly comforts that you’re used to and into doing something that is amazingly great for His kingdom!
Because, all of our talents, abilities, and possessions are given to us so that they might glorify God and build up His people.
So, you have these desires and abilities to create, to serve, to grow, to be something more… and God says, “That’s awesome! Let’s do that!!… but do you trust Me with it? Are you going to live by faith or by sight? Are you going to trust Me with all your decisions, or are you going to lean on your own wisdom, knowledge, and understanding?”
It’s so easy to go back to “what we know”.
But, I go back to sitting in a Denny’s, up in the Bay Area on a cold, dark night… looking at a salt shaker and thinking, “If that’s me, do I want to hold onto everything that I already have, or do I want to see and experience the life that God has in store for me?
If we hold onto what we have, we will always have it. But, if we are willing to let go of that, and really hold onto God and walk in such a way that He has called us, we’ll be amazed at what we have in store on the other side!
We may not see the payoff today… shoot, we may not even see the payoff in this lifetime. But, if we are willing to follow God and walk through discomfort, fear, and the unknown, then we will experience a much more powerful life than we can imagine!
I want you to simply sit and think: What is it that I want? What is it that I’m holding onto? Do I trust God enough to go where He leads me?
All this from a crazy little conversation around two little sugar packets and salt. But, for me, it’s totally impacted the way that I make decisions.
Now, go out and live an unorthodox life! Leave your mark on your friends, family, and community in the name of Christ!