September 2, 2020

From Choice to Plan

Do we create a plan and deal with choices as they come?

Dixil Rodríguez

Choice. One of the most emotionally and philosophically charged words in our vernacular. When we engage in it, we are deciding between two or more possibilities and/or options. As complex as “choice” may be, we engage in it every day. Why? Because we all have plans, and plans require choices.

We choose our friends by mutual interests, character types. We choose our homes by location, weather, job availabilities. What choices weigh more heavily in our lives? Do we create a plan and deal with choices as they come? Do we spend time outlining the choices necessary, then watch the plan unfold?

For us as Christians, “choice and plan” have a specific gravitas. While choice may engage many facets of exploratory excursion into free will, there is value in simply exploring choice as an overall approach in our daily interactions. In moments of uncertainty, when we cannot fully see a plan developing, how do we engage wisdom to move from choice to plan?

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Of all the things Solomon could have had, wisdom was his choice. Wisdom can engage other qualities, such as compassion, humility, empathy, love, a heart willing to serve, leadership, purpose. Our choices are ongoing.

Do we create a plan and deal with choices as they come?

I think on this as I observe students going through academic advising during early registration at the university. They visit with professors and collect information to make informed decisions about how to continue (or begin) their academic pursuits. I sit next to my colleague, Professor Sanders, who will retire at the end of this term. We often discuss ethics, language, religion, and somehow always manage to appreciate each other’s opinions. Today he speaks of retirement and lessons learned after 48 years of teaching. His reflections are interrupted by a student standing in front of our table.

“I have no clue,” she says. “I chose philosophy because I need to find myself, find some purpose. What do you recommend?”

The question is familiar. Before I can hand her a course listing, Professor Sanders reaches into his briefcase and pulls out a Bible.

“Here you go,” he says, opening the Bible at the New Testament and placing it in front of the student. “Begin here. Read every day. The ‘self’ is unable to engage in purpose without the sacred. Understand that, and other choices become easier.”

The student glances at me, carefully picks up the Bible, mumbles a “Thank you,” and exits the building. Professor Sanders casually adjusts his tie, aware that he has chosen to consciously break all university standards regarding potential proselytizing.

“I wish someone would’ve done that for me when I began,” he says. “I hope my legacy includes a way to encourage students to search for answers in the right places and choose well.” His voice shakes. My friend, a professor, realizes that this act was the best lecture given in 48 years.

The sacrifice made for our choices to exist outside of the daily mundane into the sacred and holy is a gift from God through Christ. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ . . . ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jer. 29:11). To embrace that promise is the way to surrender all and choose wisely God’s plan for us.

Dixil Rodríguez is a hospital chaplain, serving in southern California.