Choices, Choices: What Will We Choose series, Humility, Series

Choices (series): When There Are No Easy Choices

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

I’ve spent the last few months reading through the book of Jeremiah. The thing that struck me was how many times God gave His people the choice of whether or not to forsake their idols and worship Him. As I read, I realized how many times we have choices to make. In our relationships with family, friends, co-workers, and especially with God. These next few weeks I will be sharing a 5-part series on choices. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on what helps you make wise choices.

~~~~~

I never intended to do it.

I never set out to talk smack about another person. And yet, there I sat, having dinner with a friend. She had begun working for a person I used to work for.

All I wanted to do was help my friend have a mindset that would help her work well with her boss.

And somewhere in the conversations (and I hang my head here), the talk sidled into gossip. As the Holy Spirit began to convict me, I tried to justify my words.

To explain to Him I was only sharing in order to help my friend.

Dang words.

God’s Spirit burned in my heart until I knew I had a choice to make. To come clean with my former boss, or ignore His prompting and end up distanced from God.

Whichever way I chose, my pride would take a tumble.

I arranged to meet with my former boss. With head hung low and tears threatening, I confessed what I had done.

Oh, the humiliation.

I was reading in Jeremiah 21 recently. God speaks harsh words through Jeremiah to King Zedekiah and his minions. God declared He would not help them as in years past because their hearts had hardened against Him. He told them He would be fighting for the other side.

God had endured their idol worship, their willful disobedience to His word.

He had chafed at their hollow worship for decades.

He had tried to woo them back to Him . . . sent them prophets who would speak truth, share His heart, and the pending consequences if the people of Judah didn’t change their ways.

Finally, God made good on His word. Nebuchadnezzar was ready to roll . . . all over Jerusalem and the surrounding countryside.

God knew this had to happen. Perhaps it was the last way for His people to see their need to turn their hearts back toward Him.

The people made poor choices, and God’s word was burning them. He set His conditions for the people to hear and make a decision.

In Jeremiah 21:8-9  He says:

“‘Furthermore, tell the people, “This is what the Lord says: See, I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death. Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine or plague. But whoever goes out and surrenders to the Babylonians who are besieging you will live; they will escape with their lives.”’” (emphasis mine)

Hard choices! Take a stand and try to defend your city, your homeland (in disobedience to God) . . . or surrender to your enemy.

Who would consider surrender as an option?

Both of these choices must have seemed unbearably hard to the people. But, there was no easy way to avoid the consequences of their sins.

See, I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death.”

God still offers us choices. Sometimes we’re stuck in a situation because of our decisions. And all the resulting decisions are hard. Each choice we make moves us closer to either life or death.

Sometimes the harder choice is actually the better one.

It seems like, especially after we’ve walked in sin for a season, humility is on our menu of choices.

Sometimes, it’s in humbling ourselves—confessing our wrong and turning to the Lord—that stony hearts are broken.

Made new.

Forged back together in a way that shines God’s light more clearly.

My choice required personal humility. The Israelites’ was a national choosing. As I shared with my boss, compassion filled her eyes, which unlocked my tears. I so didn’t deserve her kindness.

She spoke the words that began the breaking and healing process within me: “I forgive you.” And she wrapped me in a hug.

There’s nothing quite so amazing as picking the harder, more humbling choice and watching how God shows up in the midst of it. 

What about you? When have you had only hard choices before you and how did you decide? When have you seen God show up in your mess and bring healing?

Click to Tweet: Sometimes the harder choice is actually the better one.

I’m linking up with #RaRaLinkup and Jennifer Dukes Lee

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18 thoughts on “Choices (series): When There Are No Easy Choices”

  1. Jeanne, wow. I really feel for you, having to own up like that. And I’m in awe of your courage and transparency in writing about it.

    The hardest choices I have had to make will forever remained boxed and locked away in my psychic basement. I can’t go back to change them, and revisiting will only do me harm at this point. There’s really nothing to learn from mind-numbing tragedy except to move more quickly and decisively, with ruthlessness and violence of action rather than careful hesitation. “He who hesitates is lost…” Would that it were so! Far worse when someone else pays the price.

    I’d love to be able to relate that God allowed me to let it all go, but that has not been the case. he has strengthened my back to bear the burden, and for that I am grateful.

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    1. It’s easier to share about an event that happened YEARS ago. But, it was truly such a humbling thing. And God really used that experience to remind me of the importance of being careful with my words. I suspect we all have choices that we can’t change and don’t want to revisit hidden in our hearts’ closets. Choices that will never fully release us from their grip. You’re right, Andrew. God gives us the strength we need for what we must bear.

      The thing that made me think about what I shared was the thought that the people of Jeremiah’s time had opportunities to make better/different choices. There was no easy way out—fight for your country (and against God’s will) or surrender to the enemy (which was God’s will). It seemed like a no-win situation, yet God asked them to humble themselves and choose surrender.

      Goodness knows I’ve fought against God, and regretted it.

      I’m praying for you, friend.

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  2. I’m impressed by your courage in speaking to your boss. That must have been so hard to do but I’m glad it turned out well.
    The hardest choice for me was to speak out about things I’d kept hidden for many years but I’m glad I did. The freedom was worth it! This sound like a great series.

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    1. Lesley, I think it’s easier to talk about now because it happened so long ago. And, because God was so gracious to me in the situation. It’s not one I’m proud of.

      Good for you speaking out about things you’d kept hidden. That’s so, so hard to do. I have been blessed as I’ve read of part of your journey. Thank you for being an encourager here.

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  3. What a humble, courageous choice you made to face your former boss, Jeanne. I’m glad she was so gracious about it. Thank you for being so honest. And for reminding us of the solemn truth that choices move us closer to either to life or death. I had to linger at your photos, imagining myself sitting at that table, standing on the bridge looking down, walking leisurely down the paths. Allowing God’s beauty in His creation to sink into my heart and refresh me. And I am reminded that God is right beside us through every season. The heart of leaves remind me, too. 🙂 Thank you! Love and hugs to you!

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    1. Trudy, at the time it was the only obedient choice I could make. When I considered the alternative (having a wall between God and me), I knew I had to do it. And it was hard. She could have responded so differently.

      I’m glad the pictures encouraged you to imagine yourself there. God’s fall colors here are incredible! And yes, He is with us in every season. I am truly thankful for you, my friend!

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  4. Oh wow. You have set such a good example, because it takes courage and humility to do this. I have been here too before. This series is starting off great and I look forward to more!

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    1. Meghan, it was HARD to go to her and confess what I’d done. I never would have if God hadn’t burdened my heart with that need. But I’m tellin’ ya. When He forces us to face our sin in this way, it’s a great deterrent to slipping back into it again. 😉 I hope to hear your thoughts through the coming weeks’ posts.

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  5. That took a lot of courage Jeanne, to go to your boss. And she set such an example of compassion that I hope I can extend too, when someone comes to me with a confession. I’ve realized life can be so short, and grievances silly sometimes when looking at the big picture. We’ll hear to ask ourselves, will this matter in the future? what’s the big picture? Those questions help me to make choices of whether to stay quiet, or to speak up.

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    1. Yes, my former boss is an amazing woman of God. I try to remember her example when others ask me for forgiveness. And you’re so right. None of us knows the number of our days. It’s best not to hold onto sin, and not to hold onto grudges/unforgiveness. I think your questions are such good markers to evaluate choices we need to make. Thanks for sharing your insights here, my friend!

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  6. Jeanne,
    “Each choice we make leads us closer to either life or death.” How true. We are rarely static, but moving toward one side or the other. I applaud you for the hard choice you made. As you know I had to humble myself to follow God’s leading as well. It’s hard to make the choices that truly involve humbling ourselves or surrendering control. Great thought provoking post!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

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    1. Bev, thank you for your encouraging words. It’s often in the humbling times that God meets us and smiles His love on us. I so admire the choices you’ve made that you wrote about. Surrendering control is a hard, hard thing. Especially when it’s been our “go-to” for so long. I so appreciate your insights, my friend!

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    1. Christina, surrender is never easy. AT least not for most of us. I’m sorry you’re walking through a challenging time. I’m praying grace and wisdom for you as you navigate this. Sending you a hug, friend.

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  7. Jeanne … this looks to be a challenging, much-needed series. Thanks for going there. Some choices are no-brainers, but others can define life or death in many ways. May we lean into Him for all our understanding, and when gives the wisdom we beg for, may we have courage to follow through what He’s speaking to our hearts.

    Weekend blessings to you, friend …

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    1. Linda, yes. Some choices have life-changing results—for better or for worse. I agree with you. Let’s choose to lean on God for understanding, wisdom, and courage to do what He’s shown us to do. I hope your weekend is filled with blessings too, my friend!

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