And Elijah came near to all the people and said, "How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him." And the people did not answer him a word. ~ 1 Kings 18:21
Somewhere along the way we were taught to shun the flicker of recognition that accompanies certainty of action. Trained, or perhaps self-schooled, to ignore the moment where the call sounds. That virtue lies in the endless moral procrastination of indecision. We are rarely so honest as to admit this obsessive waffling, so we cloak the shame in high-sounding layers. We are analyzing, considering, processing, planning. Trammeling ourselves in enough snags to plausibly excuse our returning to our seats unchanged and unmoved. We’ve associated the quick thought, the instant decision, with foolishness and failure. Wisdom has been so tied to long thought that they now seem equated in our minds. And perhaps in many cases, the association is warranted. But that's enough caveats. The reality is that you usually know almost instantly which is the right path. You then spend the rest of your time considering and planning how to avoid it.
So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. ~ James 4:17
Perhaps those found on the narrow way are the ones who never reconsidered their first instinct towards righteousness. Now isn't the time to bicker over fine theological differences. All people know how to reorient their lives to God. Whether it is the grating knowledge that He is displeased or the certain peace of knowing what would please Him. We are on the whole less confused than we pretend to be. Much of the grinding psychic static thrown off by our Anxious Age is merely the friction created when our certainty towards good action collides with our fear, laziness and selfishness. If you would learn to be more certain, if you truly seek peace with God, you must first heed what you already know.
In the same way a sacred calling is not limited to ecclesiastical functions, the man who is weeding a field of turnips is also serving God. ~ C.S. Lewis
For all this I have come across so far but one algorithm. A simple sorting mechanism that has truly helped me come to grips with my mortal fear of doing what is right. Let us say I feel an impulsive desire to action. To care for a loved one. To serve my neighbor. To build something great. At this point there is a branch leading towards no further step of consideration. Do the thing. Do not wait. Why would you hesitate? Will you ever regret doing what you know is good? Has there been a moment where you have wished to take back those instantaneous charities, desires to reclaim time heedlessly spent on others? Do the good thing without giving your foolish mind time to convince you otherwise. And if the thing is not good, procrastinate religiously. Always delay your temptations. Fritter them away. Keep them off for later consideration. When you return you will find that they have often melted away and revealed themselves for foolishness. Grimly seize on its few good flickers of thought in your spastic and corrupt mind. Let most other passions stream hurriedly by. But do not fail to seize upon those which you know to be aimed in the right direction.
When faced with a problem you do not understand, do any part of it you do understand, then look at it again. ~ Robert Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
Of course, this assumes that your compass is in working order, your map is clear, and your destination is in mind. Those are rightly questions for a trusted and wise leader. A pastor, not a productivity mentat or philo-sophist. If we learn anything from our obsessive moment, it is the failure of purely mental frameworks to account for or determine what is good. Ineffective altruism and glorified greed are not guiding you to heaven, either here or hereafter. Reacquaint yourself with parts of your being that you may have worked most of your life to silence. Behind and above your thoughts you will find a pair of broken clockwork traffic cops. We used to call them Conscience and Flesh. Flesh digs its merciless cogs into your being, grinding until briefly sated. It has legitimate needs but often must be ignored. Conscience is also not authoritative, and is subject to your particular spiritual flaws. But there will be moments, flashes, when Conscience instructs you quietly and steadily onto a certain path. Not the rote mumblings of your brain, or the angry clamor of your body, but another thing. Heed it. Recklessly. Do not allow yourself to lose the holy opportunity.
And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, "Get up quickly." And the chains fell off his hands. ~ Acts 12:7
You see, we are so prideful and self-reliant that we really think we will have unlimited opportunities to do what is right. We imagine that these little whims are self-produced, bubbling up from our finer natures, the true self we always knew lay dormant within. In fact the opposite is true. Each glint of grace, coming from absolutely Outside ourselves to pierce the murk of the heart, is to be treasured for what it is: a totally undeserved gift. One that may never come again. We are not promised another instant of right feeling or moment of romantic zeal. Too many have eased into the path of cold lethargy fully intent on rousing themselves again. We have found ourselves buried in regret for decades of “I ought to” without a single “I have done.” If we have received the grace of impulse, gratefulness demands our response. Lash yourself violently to the mast and make for the last point on the horizon where you saw the light. We don’t have a moment to spare.
What indeed can we imagine heaven to be but unimpeded obedience? ~ C.S. Lewis
I am building a lighthouse to beam God’s grace into the digital realm. Want to stoke the fire?
Beautiful. And no-nonsense. Love it.
You explain so well. Thank you.