Have you ever settled with a choice that was second-best? Perhaps you felt cornered and took “the easy way out.” In today’s episode we learn that even when we make second-best decisions, messes of our own making, and choices we wish we could take back, God still extends a loving hand to us in our neediness, offering to make our crooked path straight.
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Transcript: Welcome to “5 Minutes with Pastor Lutzer.” I’m so glad that you joined me today as we continue our series, entitled, “Making the Best of a Bad Decision.” Now, if you were with us for previous sessions, you know that we spoke about Adam and Eve, who made the worst possible decision that human beings have ever made. But today, I’m going to talk about the second best. You’ve heard that expression.
One day, I was on a plane and I was sitting next to a young woman and we picked up a conversation and she said that she was on her way to visit her sister because she had a big decision to make. She said, “I’m pregnant and I don’t know whether or not I should marry the man who is the father of my child.” And she said, “I don’t want to get married for the wrong reason. Maybe I have to live with the second best.” The way I counseled her, very strongly, that perhaps she should not marry this man because often times those marriages don’t work out at all. But I did give her hope as you’ll notice at the end of this session.
Now, the question is: what happens when you are in the midst of “the second best”? The story occurs in the book of Numbers 12-13 and you recall how the spies were sent into the land to determine how they would strategize to capture the land that God had promised them — twelve spies, ten come back and say, “We can’t do it because we were like grasshoppers in their sight.” I have a message I used to preach years ago, entitled, “The Grasshopper Complex” because they saw themselves as grasshoppers and thought that the inhabitants of the land saw them as grasshoppers but that wasn’t true but I can’t go into all that today. Here’s my point, God was very angry because the decision was made that Israel would not go into the land and God says, “You are going to be in this wilderness for another thirty-eight years, a total of forty until this whole adult generation dies.” That was God’s judgement. You know what they did? The next day, they said, “Well, we kind of regret the decision. We think we are going to go.” And the Bible says that they went up and they tried to fight a battle but the Lord was not among them and they were as easily beaten as grasshoppers. The point is simply this, that there are decisions that we make, bad decisions that cannot be reversed and they couldn’t reverse their bad decision either.
Now, here’s what I would like to suggest. Once you make a bad decision, don’t continue to make bad decisions, even as Israel did. But here’s the thing that we need to really take some hope in. In the midst of this bad decision, God is going to bless them and God is going to help them and God is actually going to take a bad decision, a second best, to put it that way, and it’s going to end up in some sense being the first best. Surprising what God can do.
Now, back to the young woman that I was with on the plane, back to her question to me. It comes to mind that there was a man by the name of Felix Manz. Now, he was conceived because there was a woman who had a relationship with a priest. He was conceived out of wedlock. But he’s one of my heroes. Felix Manz is one of the people who was drowned in the Lamont River there in Switzerland where I’ve been many times. He was drowned for his faith and the voice of his mother was heard above the waves urging her son to remain true to the faith. What they did is actually they put him in a little boat, they pushed him out on the river and then they capsized the boat. Isn’t it wonderful to know that even when there are second best decisions, messes that we wish we would have cleaned up or decisions that we would have made differently, God is there. And if you ask the question, “Well, how is God taking care of these disobedient people in the wilderness?” — well, you’re going to have to stay tuned because we’re going to be discussing that next time, how that God even helps those who are under his hand of discipline. Be sure to join but as for today, you just go with God.