Not Sure What to Think!

  • Randy Karlberg
snowy woods

Have you ever resonated with the vultures in the animated movie Jungle Book? The scene opens with one vulture asking, “What are we going to do?” To which a quippy vulture response comes, “What do you want to do?” This brings the answer, “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” This goes back and forth until the first vulture has had enough! He retorts in exasperation, “Let’s do SOMETHING!” And then the back and forth shifts to an all familiar place when the second vulture complies by saying, “Alright, what do you want to do?” To which he is rebuffed, “Now don’t start that again!” Whether it is high school students trying to agree on the evening’s agenda, or it is seasoned adults trying to discern the path forward in the COVID-19 era, I feel most of us can relate to these pathetic, scatter-brained, carnivorous raptors. We are just looking for someone to tell us what to do or sometimes what to think.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am very aware that each of us have people in our lives who are more than qualified to tell us what we are to think. Just ask them! From a young age my older brother made sure I knew that when he wanted my opinion, “he would give it to me.” If you never doubt that you have the correct opinion, you know who you are and you can just stop reading now!

Okay, now that we have that out of the way, we can honestly ask the question, what should I do? Or what should I think? These quandaries can rob us of our sleep and can bring about a great deal of stress. And while the specific answer to these questions many times comes through wrestling with, listening to, and dialoguing with others in our life, there often is a process and time investment involved in arriving at the solution. Could it be that God is using the situation of uncertainty for His glory and to teach us His faithfulness?

When I am faced with multiple options, I have come to realize that the only way forward is to work through the variety of options one at a time until the choice rises to the top and is the most correct selection. Kind of like those “brutal” multiple-choice tests our former educators found so insightful and, I think, entertaining. The key is to stick with the process of what you know to be true and wade yourself through the rushing river of possibilities until you are firm on the bank of that river. What I have come to realize is that wrestling with and waiting on the correct solution is not a process to dread but rather a process to embrace. For it is in those times of uncertainty that we become more focused on the things that we are certain of. If nothing else we are reminded of that which we are certain. This leads to the building of our faith and trust.

When we revisit this place and we ask the question if we really do believe the things we read in God’s Word, we need to understand that this is part of the Sanctification process. God is refining us by challenging us to think through those things we say we believe. If we do not go through this process from time to time the result is a diminutive effect on our spiritual state. Hebrews 11:1-2 speaks to the certainty involved in faith.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation.”

The manner of having faith in something we cannot see yet we believe what in God has spoken is not new. This faith journey is what the heroes of the faith were commended for. God’s Word has many places where people waited on the Lord as to what path they should take. Like when the Psalmist exclaims in Psalm 33:20-22,

“Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in Him, because we trust in His Holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.”

Or how about Psalm 56:3-4,

“When I am afraid I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?”

The challenges of what to think are not new to our modern day life. Through the millennia people have regularly pondered what to think of next. What is new is the expectation that the answers to the challenges in life will come easy or quickly. This has not been the case thus far. And because God loves us so much and is more concerned with our spiritual depth than our ease of life, I really doubt the process God leads us through grappling with life’s most challenging questions, will change in the future.

So my best advice for “What should I do?” Humble yourself before the Lord. Spend time in prayer and in His Word. And patiently seek to learn what He is trying to teach you through the wearisome time you are experiencing. When you look back, you will be glad you did.