North Santa Rosa

Living With Purpose

    Every now and then a friend, a church member, or a person I’ve known for some time will email, text, or call me and ask for prayer. Often in these cases it concerns a decision they are facing. I try to always honor their requests because of several reasons. First, because they acknowledge the power and rich advantage of praying about a matter; second, they have enough confidence in me to join with them in prayer about a personal matter that affects them; and third, they genuinely want to do the right thing. God answers heart-felt requests. And He does say to carry everything to Him in prayer (Philippians 4:6).    On one occasion a friend sent me a message in which she admitted certain decisions of hers had not always turned out as she wanted. She was facing a situation that wasn’t only going to affect her, but also someone near and dear to her. I told her I would pray for her. But I sensed she needed confirmation too. So I told her, when weighing the options, consider the consequences and then decide. When peace comes to you, then you will know it’s the right decision at the right time.

    Decisions are like “The Great Divide” which cuts across the country, running nearly north and south. This is the Rocky Mountain range, which forms the backbone of the United States. The most interesting feature of “The Great Divide” is the fact that it separates streams of water, so that springs bursting out of the mountain within a few feet of each other will one of them flow toward the west. A little further it will join with another small stream and forming a brook it will begin to pick up its flow and start singing as it flows over the rocks. It continues to dash and foam until it forms into a river that flows westward and south, onward toward the Pacific Ocean. The other spring that flows from the mountain side, just yards away from the other one, flows east, and goes on growing in similar fashion, until it’s a torrent that pushes itself into the mighty Mississippi River. It then flows with a turbid current in a final race toward the Gulf of Mexico and out to the Atlantic Ocean. These two mountain springs began within a few feet of each other, but after their long journey they find the oceans thousands of miles apart. It’s “The Great Divide” that did it.

    The decisions we make and the actions that follow are the means to which we evolve. Sometimes good people make bad decisions. They mess up and subsequently let others down. But that doesn’t make them bad people. We all make mistakes. Many times it’s the degree of consequences that categorize mistakes into big or small ones.

    While working as a vocational teacher within the Florida Department of Corrections I counseled hundreds of student-inmates about life decisions. One particular inmate told me, “I just didn’t have any idea of the tremendous results that hang on one momentary decision.” He continued to explain, “I had a friend and we were both offered the chance to make some big money selling drugs. It was a temptation for both of us. We were both teenagers, grew up together playing on the same playground. The temptation was real, and I yielded to it, but he didn’t. He went on to build a good life and a strong character by his decisions. He graduated from college and is a successful man today. But I went the other way, I made a wrong decision that changed the course of my life. My character got weak. I disrespected people and because I got mixed up with a number of disreputable people, I got farther and farther away from the right. And here I am in prison.”

    Two young boys, 10 years later, who seemed so alike and so near together on that fateful day as teens were so far apart in character as the mouth of the Mississippi River is from the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest. It was “The Great Divide” of their own choice that brought about this change. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; don’t depend on your own understanding. Seek His will, acknowledge Him, in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.”

    I used to think we are simply a product of our environment and to a certain degree that’s true. But I’ve come to realize it’s more about the decisions we make, rather than our conditions that determine our future. Everyone has the right to make decisions in their lives, and sometimes we must react to decisions made by others. There’s a domino affect to what we say and do for ourselves and others. You have the capacity to make the right decisions. Don’t be nervous about your choices, just be careful, pray about it, ask others to pray with you, and choose wisely.

• This bi-weekly column is written by Matthew Dobson. He’s a teacher, U.S. Army Chaplain, and the Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in the New York Community. His “Living With Purpose” Book series can be found and purchased on www. You can contact him at:

Posted by on Feb 25 2018. Filed under Church News, Churches, Living With Purpose, Local, Top News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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