Decision fatigue is a troubling twenty-first century health issue. The people over in the Psychology Department define it as the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual after a long session of decision making. One particular statistical study by rescuetime.com analyzed 225 million hours of working time back in 2017. They discovered that the average worker changed tasks more than 300 times every day.
You can review this fascinating data by clicking here. These shifts in focus challenge our opinions about which tasks are more or less important. Further study by other groups reveals that decision fatigue, as a result, causes shifts in will-power, trade-offs, and accommodations when making final choices. Weighing opinions is therefore, a significant life discipline.
Indecision is another human quagmire. Years ago someone said the greatest tension in most families occurred when deciding where to have lunch after church on Sunday. Multiple options make the circuit of possibilities even more perplexing, especially when any of them would fill the bill of the present need. So, let's flip a coin, choose a color, play dollar bill poker, let the kids decide, or hand the decision over to mom. In a broken world choosing can be storm central. Heavy winds, strong currents, tidal anomalies, atmospheric pressure, and dark skies can cloud the issues. And, there we are, opinions neatly catalogued but with competing value. Uh oh. It's what James wrote about---
...he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
James 1:8, ESV
James was advising his readers about asking God for wisdom. He had indicated that God is generous and will give us wisdom, in abundance, when we ask. The one condition about our asking was that we do so without doubting. Asking God for wisdom and doubting that he can or will give it makes us double-minded. Which, in turn, creates instability in all of our ways. Get it? Many competing opinions can truly complicate things.
The other day I was reading the Old Testament account of King Ahab, his administrator Obadiah, and the prophet Elijah, 1 Kings 18. Ahab was the seventh king after Jeroboam and the husband of the notorious Jezebel. He was the most evil king up to that date, and had led the nation of Israel to forsake their worship of God. All of their Godly prophets had been killed except for 100 who had been saved by Obadiah. In a time of great famine the Prophet Elijah appeared to King Ahab. What Elijah asked of the people of Israel when they gathered at Mount Carmel was profound---
Elijah came near to all the people and said, "How long will you go limping between two
1 Kings 18: 21, ESV
The English Standard Version used the word 'limping" when describing Israel's double-mindedness. The NIV translated the word "waver", the NLT "hobbling", the NASB "hesitate", the NKJV "falter", all seeking to challenge the people of Israel to make up their minds. The Good News Translation rendered, "How much longer will it take you to make up your minds?"
The word picture of limping registered something deep, especially when used in the context of our spiritual lives. The Scriptural image of living by faith is one of certainty, boldness, assurance, and confidence in God. The Apostle Paul reminded the believers in Corinth that "we walk by faith and not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7, ESV). This walk is portrayed in that letter as one of good courage, not hesitant or timid, certainly not the limping of indecision. Elijah challenged the nation of Israel to abandon their wavering between two opinions so that they could serve God without the double-minded and unsteady faltering.
Much of the confusion in contemporary culture, regardless of the venue, is because we seek to balance so many opinions about matters of importance. Our worldview, as noted last week, is a little of this and a little of that, whateverism. Do we prefer a representative republic form of government or Marxism, capitalism or socialism, open or closed borders, government by the state or by the people, and dozens of other opinion battlegrounds? And, the battle is real for many of us, too many opinions making us limp through life.
There was an earlier time in Israel when the people had to decide the direction of their nation. Joshua had been chosen to lead the nation into the Land of Promise. In a decisive moment he said to them---
Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the
gods that your fathers served beyond the river and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it
evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve..."
Joshua 24: 14-15, ESV
Even in those early moments as a nation Joshua knew the tragic realities of limping between two opinions. Of course, they chose to serve the Lord. But, the truth about multiple opinions plagued them for generations. At some point they had to decide between the options at least for their times.
Limping between conflicting opinions is hazardous. At some point we must decide.