A few years ago, a researcher asked 100 American and Japanese college students to take a piece of paper. On one side, they wrote down the decisions in life they would like to make for themselves. On the other, they wrote the decisions they would like to pass on to others.
The Americans filled up the side for decisions they want to decide for themselves: Where to live; what job to take. The other side was almost blank. The only “decision” they commonly wanted to hand off to others was, “When I die.”
The Japanese filled up the back side of the sheet with things they wanted others to decide: what they wore; what time they woke up; what they did at their job. The Americans desired choices in four times more domains than the Japanese.
Based on this experiment, New York Times columnist David Brooks claims America is experiencing “a choice explosion.” Brooks writes, “Americans now have more choices over more things than any other culture in human history. We can choose between a broader array of foods, media sources, lifestyles, and identities.”
In some ways this is a positive trend, but Brooks also cautions that it is “becoming incredibly important to learn to decide well.”
When I was young adult and became serious about following Christ, I would sometimes worry about missing out on God’s plan for my life. I would ask myself, “How am I supposed to know which college to go to, which subjects to take, which career path to follow?”
There have been times since, when I have second-guessed myself: “Am I really on the right track? What if I was supposed to be a school teacher or college professor? A coach or a professional golfer?” (I think we can easily rule that last one out.)
In times of doubt, Psalm 138:8 has offered me comfort and assurance. It reminds me that I don’t have the bear the burden of making every good thing happen in my life. God will work out his plans for me.
The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. Psalm 138:8 (ESV)
First, here’s the disclaimer. This doesn’t mean we are to live without ambition, or without any sense of direction in life. It doesn’t mean that we’re to wander aimlessly day to day waiting for God to blaze a trail for us.
What it does mean is this: as we strive to live according to God’s will, we have the assurance that he is working on our behalf — behind the scenes, so to speak — pulling strings and making things happen according to his plan.
In the John Grisham novel, The Brethren, the main character is a politician named Aaron Lake. He is chosen by some powerful people in DC to run for president. While he’s campaigning, these powerful people are working behind the scenes, orchestrating events to get him elected, because he serves their purpose.
There’s a comparison here: you are not alone in charting the course for your life. Someone much more powerful than you — God himself — has a plan for your life. His plans for you can only be described as good.
In order for him to do that, you must do your part: you must keep yourself yielded to him, so that he can continue to direct your life.
Yielded. What exactly does that mean? In Psalm 138, David reveals three qualities we need to embrace; three qualities that comprise a yielded heart. As we develop these qualities in our lives, we can, with more and more certainty, claim the promise of Psalm 138:8.
See if you can find the three qualities in Psalm 138. How will you embrace them?