– a situation in which you have to make a difficult choice.
The following is a parable:
Once, a man was lost in the desert, near death from thirst. He wandered aimlessly through the burning sand day after day, growing weaker by the moment. At long last, he saw an oasis in the distance with palm trees, indicating a source of water. He stumbled toward the shade of the trees, believing that finally, he might quench his torturous thirst.
But there was something strange about this oasis. Instead of a cool pool of water, the man found a pump and beside the pump were two objects. A jar of water with a parchment tied to the jar. The note explained that the leather gasket must be soaked with water in order for the pump to bring water up from the ground. There was just enough water in the jar for the gasket to be soaked. The warning to the reader was, DO NOT DRINK FROM THE JAR. Every drop must be poured down the pump to soak the heat dried pump gasket. Once the gasket was soaked and expanded, there would be an unlimited supply of water available. Final instructions were to refill the jar for the next traveler’s use.
The man faced a dilemma. He was dying of thirst and he had found water. Not much water of course but it seemed the height of foolishness to pour the water down the pump. On the other hand, if the note was accurate, he would have all the water he needed.
Life is filled with dilemmas, difficult choices that have no certain outcomes. I remember my wife and I being faced with the dilemma of leaving my vocation as a teacher and coach and answering a call to become a pastor of a local church. Then there was the dilemma where we faced the decision of staying in New Mexico as the pastor of a thriving local church or to move here to the Cedar Valley to start a church from the ground up. These were dilemmas that brought us to our knees in prayer, looking deeply into God’s Word and asking for counsel from Godly friends so as to make the best decision possible. Still, after making these decisions, we were not guaranteed a favorable outcome.
Every dilemma forces you to take a risk. And God seems to orchestrate these kinds of situations. This is the way God tests and strengthens our faith. He leads us into situations where we are torn between two or more directions and then God invites us to trust His Word and wisdom. More often than not, following God feels like we are going in a totally counter-intuitive direction as we follow His will.
Jesus was faced with many dilemmas. His inauguration into the ministry was His baptism and then being led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness, a 40 day fast and then three significant dilemmas as Satan tempted Jesus to draw away from God’s leadership so as to satisfy His own personal needs. Each time, Jesus responded with the words, “It is written…”
Later in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus faced death on a cross. His prayer to the Father was to make a different way, “Take this cup from me.” He could have run into the hills in to safety but instead, He submitted to the Father’s will and waited in the Garden for Judas to come and betray Him, leading to His arrest.
In the book of Acts, the Apostles were faced with a dilemma. The Jewish leadership told them to stop preaching in Jesus Name or they would face the death penalty. A dilemma. But these men who had run for their lives on the day Jesus was arrested were now steadfast in their efforts to spread the gospel into all the world.
Usually, our dilemmas involve giving something up of value in order to lay hold of something of far more value. Walking with God in His Kingdom seems to always place us in these predicaments, these dilemmas.
As your pastor, I want to encourage you to follow the advice of Jesus when faced with a dilemma. Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these other things will be added unto you.”