We have to make many decisions every day. But not all decisions are equal. Some are quick and easy because we know they have little long-term impact. Others we recognize as significant and consider the options carefully. But sometimes we do not see them clearly and overlook opportunities for far more life.
The book of Genesis gives the account of Abram and his nephew Lot. They lived a nomadic life, moving their herds from one location to another. As their wealth grew, the land could not support all the people and animals of both households. So Abram suggested they set up separate camps. He graciously let Lot choose his preferred location. The Bible records:
Lot looked and saw the whole Jordan Valley. He saw that there was much water there…At that time the Jordan Valley all the way to Zoar was like the Lord’s Garden. This was good land, like the land of Egypt. (Genesis 13:10, ERV)
Lot chose the land that looked more fertile and promising. That seems wise since his was goal to provide food and water for his herds, family, and workers. But the scene before Lot was deceptively peaceful. He actually pitched his tents near a corrupt city that, in time, corrupted him and his family.
How often do we look only at the surface when making a decision? We, too, can be fooled by a deceptively peaceful exterior and fail to see the situation accurately. I participate in a White Elephant gift exchange each December that makes a game of giving away useless and almost-useless items. Over the years we have found the worst gifts are often hidden beneath the most elaborate wrapping. They are deceptively appealing because the outward appearance leads you to believe a treasure is waiting inside. One participant enjoys warning newcomers, “Beware of the pretty wrapping paper.”
Satan also loves to hide behind a beautiful or peaceful exterior. He tricks us into thinking sin is not “that bad”. Or he makes it seem like an experience or circumstance will fulfill us. But Satan is a liar whose goal is to keep us from experiencing God’s best. He makes sin and pain appear deceptively peaceful. He wants to distract us from finding what truly brings far more life.
God wants to satisfy our hearts and minds. He offers true peace — and far more life. Consider this powerful promise God gave His people through the prophet Isaiah:
Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. (Isaiah 58:7-11, NIV)
Giving, investing, sharing, caring for others because they are valuable to God and therefore valuable to you…these lead to far more life! But Satan whispers — or yells — lies to dissuade us from experiencing this: Do not sacrifice for others; they will not appreciate it! Do not give too much; you may not have enough left for yourself! Do not get involved; everyone needs to learn from their own mistakes! Do not take risks; someone else is in a better position to help! People are too messy! Protect yourself!
Repeatedly God’s Word instructs us to focus on His work and trust Him with the details. He wants us to look deeper into His ways when making decisions so we can invest in far more life.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33, NIV)
But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deuteronomy 4:29, NIV)
…For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. (I Corinthians 10:33, NIV)
[Love] does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. (I Corinthians 13:5, NIV)
“Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. (I Peter 3:10-11, NIV)
Following and trusting God are not passive pursuits. Far more life requires us to actively engage with God and others. Disengaging offers deceptive peace while investing in others brings far more life. Building our own kingdom offers deceptive peace but building God’s kingdom results in true peace. Striving to fulfill God’s plan fulfills us in a way that pursuing our own plans cannot match.
Be on the lookout for deceptive peace. It is all around us, tempting us to turn away from God and join the majority. The road to God may not look as lush and fertile as the one most people choose to follow through this life, but it actually offers all we need for far more life that lasts throughout eternity.
When have you pursued something that looked good but ended up being bad?
When making a decision, what helps you look below the surface?
How has God blessed or satisfied you when you did what He instructed, even if it seemed like a bad idea?
How are you actively engaging with God and people?
Thank God that His road leads to far more life!
Copyright 2021, Shari Damaso