Why is it that we automatically turn first to our own brains when a complex or sensitive decision must be made? Why do we so often forget to ask God what advice he has to give?
I can’t trust my brain. The brain I use for making decisions is, coincidentally, the same one I rely on for making mistakes. My brain was in full use the time I had to choose which dog to take home from the pound.
My husband, the kids and I took much time narrowing down our choices to two puppies — a black semi-Labrador and a brown part-shepherd-part-tongue. We stood before the cage that held both pups.
“Would you like to take a closer look?” an astute pound employee asked.
“Could we let both of them out?” I asked. “I need more information on which to base my decision.”
The employee opened the cage door, and out burst the pups, both eager to impress us with their unique talents and cuteness. The black one ran up and down the corridor, his tail wagging his entire body.
“What a joy-filled dog!” I commented.
The brown one zeroed in on the most gullible-looking person — my husband — and bounded over to him. As Ralph kneeled down, the dog planted a big, wet tongue on his face. He ran to our son and tongued him. He ran to our daughter and tongued her. He ran to me and I ran to the black dog.
So he ran back to Ralph and licked him again.
“What a loving dog,” Ralph said.
“I like the black one,” I said.
The brown one licked Ralph again. Ralph looked at me with eyes that pleaded like the dog’s. “Well okay,” I decided.
For the next 15 years, when I relaxed on the couch reading the newspaper, soon I was reading the dog’s nose. When I tried to get a little extra sleep on Saturday morning, the dog’s breath forewarned that a wet nose and wetter tongue were approaching fast. When I hugged my husband as he arrived home from work, the dog squeezed between us to give us both a wet welcome.
We couldn’t pet the dog. He interpreted the nearness of our hand as a request for a good slobbering.
I had trusted my brain. I thought I knew what I was doing when I let that dog lick his way into our hearts. God bless him, I loved him, but I tired of his sloppy affection as soon as we got that dog home.
The biggest trouble with trusting our brains, I’ve found, is making decisions that affect other people. We use our limited ideas about what’s right and what’s wrong and how the others fit into it. Why don’t we seek God’s advice each time? He understands every unseen detail of the situation in question. And yet we forget to consult him and make decisions that end up wounding others or doing them injustices. Not that we intend to. The problem is, our brains, compared to God’s knowledge, are about as intelligent as a couple of grown-up kids in search of a puppy that will make them feel warm all over.
Maybe a muzzle would slow me down long enough to wait for God’s wisdom.
Reflection question for family discussion:
Think of a decision you recently made. Did you pray about it first? What might have happened differently if you had trusted God more than your own brain?
Dear Jesus, increase in us the ability to hear Your Holy Spirit guiding us. Give us the gift of remembering to trust You more than we trust ourselves.
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© 2017 by Terry Modica of Good News Ministries