Life is full of the tentative. It would seem that the ability to be decisive is fast becoming a relic; replaced instead with a sleek, stream-lined, today’s-age, model that places indecisiveness as the norm and decisiveness as the archaic and irrelevant.
There was a day when a man went into a hardware store for a screw or a part and he went there with the conviction to get the right thing; to make one purchase without the thought of having to make a return transaction. That was a day when returning something because you had purchased incorrectly was something to be avoided. Having to go back to the store, hat in hand, with the wrong purchase item was an embarrassment. It meant that you, perhaps, had made the purchase in error--that you had not put adequate planning or understanding into the decision to select that item. “May I return this?” This was a real question, not a foregone conclusion. It was uttered in apology, not a bland expectation that somehow you had the right to be wrong. Being committed to do what was right in the first place meant that this was not only a “head” purchase but that it was also a “heart” purchase.
Pliny the Elder, was a Roman writer who lived during the same time period as Jesus. He told a story of the setting of an obelisk, which when erect would stand 99 feet tall. Twenty thousand workers where chosen to pull on the ropes and activate the hoisting apparatus. There was great responsibility and risk in the operation. Just one error could cause the obelisk to fall, ruining years of work. The King demanded one act which insured the complete attention and best direction of the engineer. He ordered the engineer’s own son to be strapped to the apex of the obelisk, so that his heart as well as his head would be given to the task. (Pulpit Helps, August, 1992, p. 14.)
Commitment means becoming a part of what we do not just accessory to it. When we make a decision to follow some course of action, it should be a decision based on head and heart knowledge. Sure, there will always be the possibility of error in this life. Sometimes we buy the wrong screw because we made a genuine mistake. That happens. But, to live life as if it is something that we can nonchalantly “return” if we don’t like it, is not wise. Being tentative and indecisive may be the way of the world but it is not the way of the Cross. Each of us needs to take responsibility for how we live our lives. That means we need to take each day, each hour, every minute and second seriously. This is the only life we have and there is no going back to exchange it for another.
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