Wishing Vs. Deciding

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is twopathssmall.jpgIn one of J. R. R. Tolkien’s novels this conversation takes place…

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

Good words, Gandalf! Wishing comes easy for most of us. There seems to be an abundance of wishing! We find ourselves wishing many things were different than they are. The wise Gandalf admitted to wishing things were different too. But Gandalf gives wise advice. “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” More effective than wishing for what is not is deciding what to do with what is. The old adage still applies, “If wishes were horses beggars would ride.”

Author Philip Yancey tells the story of a man held in a Cambodian concentration camp who, instead of wishing things were different, decided to make them different. Like others, he was tortured. But worst of all, for him, he resented having no time to be alone and focus on God; the guards were always yelling at them. Then he noticed that the guards couldn’t find anyone to clean out the cesspits and so he volunteered. He said, “No one ever interrupted me, and I could do my work at a leisurely pace. Even in those stinking depths, I could look up and see blue sky. I could praise God that I survived another day. I could commune with God undisturbed, and pray for my friends and relatives all around me. That became for me a glorious time of meeting with God.” (Reaching for the Invisible God, Philip Yancey, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2000 – page 207-208)

We don’t think of a concentration camp as being a place where you’re given opportunities to make your own decisions; it would seem that most decisions are made for you. The man who volunteered to clean the cesspits knew differently. In the worst of circumstances he made a decision that made a difference!

We all face situations and have to deal with circumstances that we wish were different. Perhaps they can be changed, perhaps not, or not in the big ways we’d like to see them changed. However, we can switch from wishing things were different to deciding how to deal with them differently. Like Gandalf said, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

Mordecai to Esther, “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

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