How does one make an impossible decision of choosing between two choices when it seems that either selection will result in the ruination of the other? When the two choices cannot co-exist, how does one choose which to sacrifice to save the other? Is there a right choice? A wrong choice?
That was the decision that was before me one wintry day as I walked along a snow-covered path. The air was crisp around me, and crystals of snow captured the rays of the sun, spinning them into a glittering array that blanketed the landscape. In the fence that bordered the trail upon which I walked, horses contentedly crunched on the dried grasses of summer. To the outside world, it was a beautiful, peaceful day.
But within, my mind churned and my heart was wrenched as I considered the decision I had to make. I didn’t know what to select. I didn’t know how to choose. Was there a right choice? A wrong choice?
Some would say yes, and only a fool would choose the wrong way. Others would remain quiet and let their silent condemnation speak louder than any words could. I have been called a fool and have borne the brunt of silent stares and cold shoulders. But, that day, I didn’t care what people would think. All I could do was cry out to God, asking him to remove this decision from me, and pleading with him to make another way.
Four-hundred and sixteen days previous, a pebble had fallen, the ripples of which grew in strength until the very ground under my feet was at risk. Stolen money and work contracts not paid had resulted in the recall of a business operating loan, which would have resulted in foreclosure and the loss of businesses and home of family. The tidal wave of destruction was halted when a bridge lender stepped in and offered to help. The home could be saved, and the business possibly rescued, but they wanted collateral and lots of it.
As this lender took inventory of security to guarantee the bridge loan, their attention zeroed in on our home and our land – even though it was not tied to the business. In the end, our home and ranch became a loan condition and I had to personally sign the papers.
As I wrestled through the hundreds of pages detailing the terms and conditions, I became physically ill. The terms were cruel to the point of oppressive, but what bothered me the most was that if my husband or I died, the debt would be passed on to our daughters, who would then be responsible for paying it back. Their inheritance would be lost, and they would be left with nothing but a burden of debt.
If I signed the papers, I would be sacrificing our home and binding our daughters to a debt that was not theirs, but in doing so, another’s home would be rescued, and the business likely salvaged. If I didn’t sign the papers, our home would be safe, and our daughters would be free, but the loss of the family home and business was likely. I didn’t know what to choose. I love my family, and I love my daughters, but this decision seemed to require the sacrifice of one to save the other from loss.
As I walked, I continued to ask God for wisdom, and the first part of his answer came unexpectedly. While the other guarantors went in to sign the loan papers on a Friday, I was not allowed to see the same lawyer. As a result, my appointment was scheduled for the following Monday with a different lawyer. God’s answer for me was the gift of a weekend – three days, which, like Queen Esther, I cleared my schedule so that I could take the time to seek him and his will. I had never spent a whole weekend in prayer and petition before God, but the consequences of this decision weighed heavily on me, and I desperately needed his wisdom and guidance. I could not make this choice based on logic or on what was expected or what others said had to be done. Whatever decision I made had to be anchored to him and his will for me.
Throughout the previous 416 days of this somewhat terrifying and arduous journey, God allowed me to experience multiple trials that refined me and caused my faith to grow. He showed me that I had a propensity to trust in my ability to mess up or misinterpret His will more than I trusted in his faithfulness to carry out his promises – especially Proverbs 3:5, 6. These verses state that when I trust in God with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding, but rather acknowledge him in all my ways, he would direct my steps. As he did with Samuel, God was well able to communicate with me in ways I can understand. And just as he did with Samuel, he would also persist in showing me his way until I understood and was able to follow where he directed. I didn’t need to fear stumbling, for when I did, I would not be utterly cast down because he holds me up in his hands.
The weekend passed, and by the time Monday came around, I still did not have a decision. But what I did have was a calmness of mind and steadiness of spirit that can only come from God. My prayer as I went to town that day was, “Lord if I have your peace that surpasses understanding, I will sign the papers. If I have even a hint of unease or fear, I am not going to sign them.” We prayed together as a family, asking God to answer my request. As my husband and I walked out the door, our daughters called out, “Mom, we will be praying for you!”
When I entered the lawyer’s office, I expected to feel the tentacles of fear and unease creep their way into my heart and mind. You see, I have a fear of lawyers – almost a phobia. In the past, when I visit lawyers – for something as simple as paying a bill or completing a will – I begin to shake as fear grips me. I don’t know why this is, but it happens to me every single time I enter a lawyer’s office. This reaction, combined with the harsh terms and consequences of the loan contract, would likely have resulted in a fear grabbing hold of me.
But not that day.
I sat down at the lawyer’s desk, and she proceeded to outline the contract in great detail to ensure that I would precisely know what I was signing. For thirty minutes, as I listened to the verbalization of those horrendous terms, I continued to be cloaked with God’s peace. Neither fear nor unease took root, so I signed the papers.
I left the lawyer’s office and returned to the vehicle. My husband watched me with a curious gaze, and I said, “I signed them.” I called my daughters, and their first question was, “Mom, did you have peace?” I answered that yes, I did, so I signed the papers. The impossible choice had been made and the sacrifice chosen. At that time, only God knew how that decision would unfold, but that day it was enough for me to know that as I trusted him, he had directed my steps and garrisoned me with his peace.
As I reflect on this story this Easter, I am reminded of the infinite, costly decision that God made. He had to choose to sacrifice his beloved Son or be forever separated from us, his creation, whom he loves. Our sin and our salvation would require the death of Jesus on the cross.
Yet, this is how God demonstrated his love for us – while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8).
For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
A costly decision.
The sacrifice of the beloved Son.
So that you and I could be saved.
We are loved that much.