by Richard Mansel
A young man faces several alternatives as he prepares to make a fateful decision. He narrows them down to two. The first of the two is safer but the second is flashier and more alluring. He has never possessed anything like the treasure he could find if the second were to become his. The ideal consumes the reality, however, expelling the bones of the dreams he possessed. It was never his to have and this bitter truth wounds his heart.
He grieves the loss and tentatively the world’s colors begin to twinkle again. New alternatives arise, hasty selections are made and disaster results. Time eventually bears the scars of the fateful decision. The lack of foresight and fortitude continues to bear bitter fruit. The opportunity that never was becomes the failure that continues to haunt.
Lost in the dust of failure is the first opportunity, the one rejected for being safe. It was the true treasure all along. However, the fields over the horizon bore no fruit. The treasure, left to tarnish, now warms the heart of someone else. Their keen eye, unburdened by an eye for fool’s gold, becomes wealthy and blessed.
Thomas Wolfe wrote that we could not go home again. The past is like the bag of feathers released to the wind. No amount of effort can reassemble the pieces. We find solace in lessons and laments but the past has passed away. John Ed Pearce wrote, “Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to.”/1 The bitterness of truth never negates its validity.
Spiritually, men face alternatives and often make selections based on shallow premises. They reject the sober, safe alternative and turn to the flashy and childish. Satan’s agents sell the seeker on splash and satisfaction (2 Corinthians 11:15). Feelings matter more than fact and delusion trumps doctrine. However, in time, when the storms come, their house built on sand crumbles around them (Matthew 7:24-29). They lay the fault at the feet of God despite their own evasions.
Many young people in the church leave behind the safe and chase after the exciting alternatives in the religious world. They seek the flash and pizzazz rather than the Lord’s church. In time, they discover that the illusion was never theirs and they suffer the consequences of dashed dreams. The answers they accepted were hollow and lifeless.
The young man faced a dilemma and chose unwisely. He selected the façade rather than the future and lost both. God said idols were worthless because they could neither “see nor hear nor walk” (Revelation 9:20; Habakkuk 2:18,19). Satan’s answers are still just as worthless as they ever were.
Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6, NKJV). The words sit still and allow the seeker to decide whether he will accept the salvation of Christ or the lies of Satan (John 8:44). Meanwhile, thousands of other voices shout in his ears that their answers are better. Whether he will have the wisdom to select truth amidst the flash and fire goes a long way towards eternity.
We must be wise in our decisions and choose the answers that never fail (Hebrews 13:5). Alternatives to the truth of Scripture appear rewarding in the short term but they soon crumble before our eyes.
While lost opportunities cannot be recovered, the mercy of Christ says that as long as there is breath in our bodies, we can make the decision to come to [or back] to Christ. Do not keep him waiting! (Matthew 11:28-30).
by Richard Mansel