First of all, thank you to the Albia Chamber of Commerce for selecting me to be numbered among the Albia Hall of Fame. I am honored and humbled by your selection. In many ways, I feel that I am only a custodian of such an award. Countless individuals past and present, have labored and given their hearts and time and gifts and talents to make Albia, always, a more positive place to live and raise families- a place to come home. Many sail under the radar all their lives, yet, are invaluable to the betterment of the community. To all of them, I am only a recipient of an award that all of you in your own way, earn every day. Again, thanks and God bless.
On another note, it was a pleasure to make some comments and do the Invocation at the Chariton Valley REC meeting the other night. Several hundred people there at the annual event. When one stops to consider all that for 71 years this organization has done to empower rural communities and people of all ages to make our lives better, it is amazing. Our gratitude should be ever present and our prayers as well for the linemen who in all sorts of weather harness electric power, a dangerous thing, for all our benefit.
Today, I want to talk briefly about making decisions- decisions about other people, about careers, about relationships, about jobs, about buying homes---- well, frankly about everything. When people have decisions to make, it can be overwhelming. And in many cases it can be paralyzing. I love the quote by the legendary Civil War general Stonewall Jackson, which was often quoted by General George Patton. “Never take counsel of your fears.” Let me explain.
Many people DO take counsel of their fears and then often take counsel from people, even friends, that stoke those fears. Jackson, was one of the most famous military men in history. His intelligence, his faith, his speed, and tactics were second to none. His campaigns in the Civil War were compared worldwide to no less personages than Napolean. And he had great moral courage. He was capable of making a risky, in some eyes, decisions, and take full responsibility of them. The war was full of those generals who failed because they could not do this. He was fearless. Hence his quote. But in examining this quote, it is a good life maxim to go by. So many people are so gripped with fear all the time it cripples and denies them to ever achieve their dreams, their hopes, and any semblance of happiness. They fear everything under the sun. They will distrust anyone or anything because they literally are overrun by fear of this or that. Fear tells you to freeze and do nothing or to run away. Courage tells you to push through and overcome, particularly, if it is something you feel is worth it when the outcome is achieved.
Even friends can stoke your fears. Solomon said in Proverbs that “there is wisdom in counselors.” That is true, But counselors, particularly if they are not Christian in their own walk, can be prone to bad advice, though well meaning. Some that give advice have their own agendas. Some just like to reinforce and give justification for the fears one already has.
The Book of Job highlights Job, a righteous man’s plight and also shows three well meaning friends of his trying diligently to interpret for him what to think and what to do. Each one, as the Bible points out, gave him bad advice. In David’s life we see that when he was King of Israel, he received poor advice from Joab, his general, who meant well but gave him poor advice. As a young shepherd boy, he received wrong advice from his own brothers who dissuaded, or tried, to get him to run from Goliath.
Over and over again the Bible reminds us that there is good advice and there is poor, even from good people. Much of the bad advice comes because too many people judged themselves an authority on the situation or person and had really very little accurate clue. And with all of the bad advice, somewhere at the root of things was fear.
Most often, the enemy we have today is fear. We must not listen to it. We must not yield to it. We must not give in to it. We must take it and beat it into submission and let courage and faith, not fear and its ugly twin sister of doubt to reign. There is no freedom or joy in taking counsel of one’s fears.
In short, the best advice we can get is from the Lord. We can run to and fro asking this and that from every source but only God gives perfect advice, grounded in truth and free of fear and doubt. His advice may not line up with what we want to hear but it is always in our best interests. He never fails and is always ready to give perfect counsel. He is the first one we should go to and the main one we should believe. Psalm 91 says, “When you call me, I will answer you…” It says more but that is enough to know. The Bible says “He will guide you with His eye.” Isaiah 30:21 says, “Whether you turn to the right or the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it.’” Isaiah 58:11 says, “He will guide us always.” Luke 1:79 says, “He will shine in darkness and guide our feet into the path of peace.”
On and on, the story is clear. Giving counsel to our fears and doubts and often even well meaning friends is not the way we should go. God’s guidance is clear and solid, always, and following it even when all voices seem opposed, will never lead you astray. HE IS FAITHFUL.