Making the Wrong, Right Decision
By DANNY MINTON
In a summer many years past, Kathy and I made one of the most difficult decisions we have ever had to make. We were not getting a lot of support with our son, Scottie, so it was becoming challenging as an all-in-one youth, children, and education minister to balance work and home. He was in the hospital three or four times, and it was taking its toll on a young couple. We often heard from well-meaning people that it would be much better for our youngest son if we placed Scottie in an institution.
After an exhaustive search and process, we decided to place Scottie in an MHMR facility in Austin. Tears streamed down our faces as we left him there that first night, climbed into our blue Buick, and headed home for the first time without him in four years. Over the next year, twice a month, we would wake up early on a Saturday morning and drive the 236 miles to Austin, spend the day with him, and then retrace the 236-mile route back home in the evening. Holidays required careful planning since he was only allowed to be away from the facility for 72 hours if the state continued paying. The hardest part would always be when we left him. We would lay him in bed, kiss him goodbye, and many times as we walked down the hall, we could hear him cry.
After a year in Austin, we decided to move him to Houston, where he would be closer to his grandmother and someone who could help watch over him. At the time, it seemed like a good idea. Although the facility appeared excellent outwardly and seemed like a quality place to live, the care was horrific. His grandmother would find him in his bed with nothing on but a diaper. There were times that he went without eating until noon. One person was trying to care for 20 people and just couldn’t do it well. Others didn’t care at all.
Getting wind of all this, we drove straight to Houston, packed up his things, and pulled him out of the institution. We had made some decisions, and they all seemed the right ones at the time. Some we made quickly, while others took time. We probably made some mistakes in all this, failing to consider all sides of everything, moving fast at times. However, we still felt comfortable with each one made. Sometimes what we thought were the right decisions in part turned out to be the wrong thing to do.
God’s decision-making has always interested me. I wonder why he waited 400 years before freeing the Israelites from slavery. Why did he wait thousands of years before sending Christ? It’s been more than 2,000 years since He promised that He would return. Why so long? Then again, when Uzzah touched the Ark, he died there on the spot. When Ananias and Sapphira lied, they died on the site. Quick judgment!
One characteristic of God that we find lacking in ourselves is that God is patient when he makes his decisions, while at the same time, once He makes it, He acts boldly. He is also patient with us when we strive to do right but make the wrong decision in going about it. You see, God knows our hearts, and that’s why he is patient with us.
Drawing a sword, Peter wanted to protect Jesus, but he did it in the wrong way. Moses brought water from a rock, but he did it in the wrong way. David, a man after God’s own heart, did some great things for God but sometimes did them in the wrong way.
In a vast majority of decisions that we make, God is more concerned with how we came to a decision than he is about the final decision itself. Most decisions themselves are not “earth-shattering” type decisions, but if we aren’t careful, they can lead us in the wrong direction. There is no magic time on how long it should take to decide. Too slow, and opportunities may pass us by. Too fast, and we may fail to make the wisest decisions.
More importantly, have we spoken with God? Have we asked for His guidance? Have we constantly prayed through the process for His wisdom to enter our hearts? Have we weighed the pros and cons? Have we been visionary about what to do after we decide?
There will be times that we make the right decision based on all the above, but in the end, it can turn out to be the wrong thing to do because of something unforeseen, something out of our control. It will have nothing to do with anything that we did right or wrong; it will just turn out that way through no fault of our own. It is then that God tells us, “That’s OK,” “I’ve got you covered.” Peter put away his sword and became one of the most prominent of the Apostles. Moses continued to serve God throughout the wilderness and was allowed to look into the land God had promised. With all his faults, David still found favor in God’s eyes.
When we know we’ve done our best in making a decision and that decision turns out to be wrong, we can rest assured that God understands. He’ll still be there beside us, not as one who says, “I told you so!” but as one who will simply say, “I’m still here; let’s try again.”
We did not always make the right decisions with both of our sons, but right or wrong, God was always there beside us, without fail, as we made the next one.
“For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then, you will call upon Me, and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13
Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ