We taught both our kids the little doggerel, “Ini, mini, mine, mo, catch a tiger by the toe. If he hollers make him pay, fifty dollars every day. My mother told me to pick the very best one and you are it.” That’s a simple way for kids to make decisions. And if you are smart you can manipulate it by adding this at the end, “my mother told me to pick the very best one and you are not it.”
In the Old Testament, they had what was called the Urim and Thumim, which were basically dice that were rolled and if they turned out a certain way, then that was God’s will. They might as well have done “ini, mini,” or drawn straws. Another Old Testament way was to look for a sign. Gideon did. If it rains on Thursday then I’m not supposed to go to Atlanta shopping. (That’s just good common sense.) Looking for signs is a good way, it seems to me, to avoid having to make a decision.
When I was a teenager, Christian people told me all kinds of stuff. They meant well, but some of the stuff I was told wasn’t too good. Someone told me that God had a blueprint for my life. In other words, like an architect has plans, God has plans. That was re-assuring because it told me that God does care about me. It told me that my life was all laid out for me; all I had to do was figure out that blueprint. But then I got to thinking about that analogy. All the blueprints I have seen have been done in ink. What if I make a bad decision? And where does that leave my free will? Don’t I make decisions every day? Has God already planned out my life in great detail? And what about disease and disaster and how do they fit into that blueprint?
My wife died from cancer at a way too early age. Was that a part of the blueprint? I sure hope not. I had more questions than answers. I threw the blueprint idea in the garbage. But I kept the idea that God does care about my life. And as someone said, “God is bigger than his plans.”
Also, when I was a teenager, an evangelist told me, “The only decision you have to make is to follow Jesus, and then God will make all the other decisions for you.” I promise, that’s what he said! That’s baloney. That’s a pile of baloney. I make decisions every day. Some good and some bad. They are my decisions, and I must own them.
Someone else told me, when I was a teenager, just to read the Bible and I would discover God’s will for my life. Lots of people do this. For example, a young person is trying to decide whether to stay home or go away for college. (UWG folk say “Stay home!!) So, according to this method, he might open up the Bible and pray, “Lord show me your will.” And as he reads the Bible he comes across these words: “Thou shalt surely go away.” He then interprets this to be God’s will. Really?
Then someone told me that God would open doors in life for me. All I had to do was walk through the door. “Hey, I can do that. And, yea, I don’t have to make decisions; all I have to do is recognize an open door and walk through it.” That sounded great until I reached a point in life where I had two open doors. Then what? Make a decision?
It seems to me that many of our ways for determining God’s will are in fact, ways for us to avoid responsibility and ways to avoid decision making. Why are we so afraid of making decisions? Is it because we fear we will make a bad one?
I don’t know if God has all the details about our lives planned out. Does God really care which tie I wear? Does God really care if I eat a hamburger or shrimp for lunch? Part of our maturity as Christians is discovering what really matters in life. People are more important than things. What shirt we wear is not nearly as important as loving our family and friends. I don’t know if God has a plan about exactly whom we should marry, but I do believe that it is God’s will that whomever we marry, we love them, trust them, and treat them with kindness.
So, we should welcome the opportunity to make decisions. We should make then prayerfully, but with the understanding that prayer and faith don’t exempt us from bad decisions. In all of our world, only humans are free to decide things. So, make decisions and quit worrying about missing God’s will.
And while you are quitting that, you might want to quit the “Ini mini mini mo” thing.