On April 14, 1865 Abraham Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, made a seemingly trivial decision. She decided to change the play that she and Abe were going to see that evening. Instead of going to a show at the National Theatre, she decided they would see a play at Ford’s Theatre. She sent a servant to buy the new tickets. As the servant was getting the tickets, he mentioned who the tickets were for and was overheard by a bystander, John Wilkes Booth. Booth realised he now had the perfect opportunity to assassinate the President, he decided he would do it that night. Just after 10pm at Ford’s Theatre, Booth shot and killed Lincoln. I am amazed at how one seemingly innocent decision changed the fate of two men, a family, a nation and arguably the world.
That story reminds me of a simple principle in life, “decisions determine destinies.” The decisions we make, even ones we think are trivial, can have tremendous implications for our lives and the lives of other people too. John Maxwell the American pastor and leadership guru says what we need most when it comes to making decisions is discernment. He defines discernment as the ability to see through to the heart of the matter. The most practical of OT books, Proverbs, reminds us that to have discernment we are going to need wisdom and understanding. “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding,” Prov 3:13 That ancient sage is reminding us that when we approach decisions we need to do so not impetuously but rather seriously, thinking about the implications of the decision, understanding the possible outcomes and ramifications for us and others. I have discovered that decisions made wisely are not necessarily made quickly and vice versa. Impetuous decisions are generally bad decisions.
So we could put it like this, “Decisions determine destiny, so discernment should determine decisions. “
So, let me ask you some questions that might help you with discernment:
What decisions are facing you right now which could affect your destiny, your future?
How are you approaching that decision?
What have you done to understand its implications?
Whose wisdom have you sought to help you think about it?
Have you prayed about it?
Does God’s Word have anything specific to say about it?
What advice have you asked for and received from others about this decision?
Will you follow or reject that advice, why?
Have you asked others to pray about it?