If I thought it prudent, I would take a few more weeks and continue an exposition of Numbers 5:11–31. This otherwise strange and seemingly archaic law is both full of biblical theology (pointing us to the gospel of God) and numerous relevant applications to the new covenant church. Hopefully, our Grace Groups this week will provide a platform for helpful insights and applications. I am writing an article based on this text (“Suspicions of Evil”); otherwise, I’ve made the decision to move on to chapter 6 this coming Sunday. Speaking of decisions, I hope I’ve made the right one. In fact, like you, I am constantly making decisions based on available information and, unlike the case of Numbers 5:11–31, I don’t have the promise of infallibility. Sometimes I get it wrong.
Because you and I are fallen, every area of our life has been affected. Theologians speak of the “noetic” effects of sin. That has nothing to do with a flood or a big ark and everything to do with our minds. Our minds have been affected by sin and therefore our decision-making process is affected. As hard as we try, we don’t always make the right call. Like the umpire or referee on the pitch, who is neither all-seeing nor all-knowing, we are bound to make some wrong calls along the way. Welcome to parenting. Welcome to relationships. Welcome to planning a holiday. Welcome to leading. Welcome to church. Welcome to government. And welcome to COVID-19.
The past eleven months have called for a whole lot of decision-making. Businesses, families, churches, governments, etc., have been called upon to make wise decisions with the information available. At times, the information has been conflicting and, since all but a hand full of people have experienced a prior pandemic, it has been a steep learning curve. We have all made numerous decisions along the way. Some have proven wise (wearing masks in public settings) while others, well, not so much (purchasing one million cloth masks in March for R15 million!). Hindsight is always 20/20, they say.
For example, as elders, we have experienced the pressure to make decisions based on available data. We have sought to stay in our proverbial lane and to take our cue from medical experts and the government. Sometimes they have gotten it wrong, which means that we have as well. How do we handle this reality? We entrust ourselves to God, who is sovereign. We take seriously the words of Proverbs 3:5–6: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
We don’t always know, but God knows, always. And therein lies our comfort. You see, God knows that we do not always know. But those who know God know that he knows and therefore, as we make informed decisions, this is all we need to know! There is no guarantee that our decisions are infallible (without error). But Christians do have the comfort that, as we look to the Lord, as we trustfully surrender to him (a good paraphrase of “in all your ways acknowledge him”), in the end, he will make our paths clear and straight. Hindsight will provide us with 20/20 vision that the Lord is in control and he can even make a good thing from what, in the end, may prove to be a wrong decision.
In the weeks ahead, we will be faced with more decisions. My wife and I need to make a decision about visiting our parents overseas. The elders will need to make decisions about gathering in the face of government mandates. Students will be making decisions on various fronts. The list goes on and on. How do we decide? Gather the available information, seek wise counsel, but, most importantly, lean heavily into and onto Proverbs 3:5–6. Take comfort in the truth that, though there is tons that we do not know, God knows.
Deciding along the way with you,