The Dancing Puritan

Monday, January 7, 2013

Making Decisions

Last night Lori and I watched The Words (see note at end).  In the movie a young writer, Rory Jansen (played by Bradley Cooper) is driven by the dream of breaking through with his writing and landing a book deal.  He continually faces disappointment with each rejection letter.  He is gifted but there is no market for his writing.

In Paris, for his honeymoon, with his wife Dora (played by Zoe Saldana) they visit an antique store.  Dora purchases an old leather satchel for Rory and they walk happily out of the store and into their married life together.

The struggling writer eventually discovers that lodged into one of the pockets of the satchel is a folder.  Inside the folder is a manuscript for a book never published.  Rory starts reading and he can't put the manuscript down until he is done.  The manuscript was a powerful piece of literature about a writer, romance, death and survival.

Without giving too many details about the movie (in case you want to watch it) Rory faces the powerful temptation to submit the manuscript, as if it were his own, to an agent.  The decision that he makes will impact the rest of his life.  The script and the actors do a great job of pulling you into the tension that Rory faces.  We are led to imagine how we might have handled the situation.  The movie continues with Rory making his decision and the rest of the movie unfolds the consequences of that decision, which includes an unexpected meeting with an old man (played by Jeremy Irons).

Decisions. Choices.  How do you decided what to do with the decisions that you will face today?

After watching the movie, I read about a decision that was made recently. The Atlanta Journal's web-site reported that the quarterback for the University of Georgia (UGA), Aaron Murray, had made a decision to come back and play another year for UGA instead of moving on to the NFL.  In the days prior, he had indicated that he would make his decision after talking with his parents and coaches. He made a choice to turn down, what likely would have been, a substantial amount of money (even if he would have been a second round draft choice) to return to his college team. He chose to delay his entrance into the NFL for one more year. That decision is risky. He may get injured. He may not have a good year.  His stock may fall. Yet he made a decision. He delayed his future dreams for another year.

We make big decisions (marriage partner) and small decisions (what to have for breakfast). We make decisions when confronted with temptation to gain through compromise or lose through faithfulness.  How do we do it?

By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.  He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.  By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible (Hebrews 11:24-27).

Moses deliberately chose to be mistreated rather than to "enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin."  He "considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward." He left the security and riches of Egypt, put himself at great risk, identified with a hated people and was able to do so because his focus was on God.

Though there is much that might be said about making decisions.  Here are a few truths:

1.  Decisions must be driven by faith in God.  Faith in God comes via His word.  To make good decisions we need to have a heart and mind that are saturated in the Bible.  Moses believed the promises of God because he believed in the God who made the promises.
2.  When faced with the decision of choosing trouble by doing right and gaining comfort by doing wrong--always take the trouble.  Sin is pleasurable but the pleasure is temporary.  Better to suffer pain, rejection, loss of popularity, financial loss and ridicule rather than to sin.  R.C. Sproul calls sin, "cosmic treason."
3.  To make wise decisions it is essential that we consider Christ as greater wealth than anything else. The old hymn, I'd Rather Have Jesus should resonate in the heart of every follower of Jesus.  Would you rather have Jesus than silver or gold, praise and fame, houses and land?
4.  Godly decisions are motivated by vision. By faith Moses looked beyond his earthly life and looked to his eternal reward.  He kept his vision on Christ. Some of the choices that we confront are not necessarily choices between good and evil, godly and sinful.  The choice may involve timing.  Is now the right time to choose whatever is being offered?  It is important to consider long-term implications when making present time decisions.

*Make a wise decision if you are considering watching, The Words.  Though the story is well-told and the dilemma the movie presents is a helpful way to think about temptation, sin and consequences; the movie has no problem with a couple living together prior to marriage and it contains profanity.