Devotional: Are you horizontal or vertical?

This is part of a series called “Devotionals.”

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“Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.” (Isaiah 5:21)

Before I re-dedicated my life to Christ, I was handling all of my circumstances in a horizontal fashion.

I processed incoming news – good, bad, and uncertain – using my own knowledge and that of books and my friends, family, and counselors in a secular fashion.

While there was some success here and there with these avenues, it was never consistent; they were always short-lived; there was always a better way in hindsight; it was exhausting; and it felt unfulfilling.

Looking sideways and down weren’t the right operating system for the results I wanted, and I needed an upgrade.

I am learning to look up and vertically integrate more often. My experiences, talents, thought processes, education, loved ones, and people I look up to are all wonderful resources to consult, and they are necessary – but they are only secondary resources on their own, and I can only adhere to them when God speaks to me through them.

Knowing this requires prayer and listening for advice that moves me, that is consistent with what the Bible says, and serves God and others.

The rest of my inputs – regardless of how good and well-meaning it sounds – must be passed on in order to make room for His answer.

It’s something I still struggle with and will continue to struggle with it for the rest of my life…but the more I shift the ratio of worldly-powered decisions to God-powered decisions, the more successes and purpose I will experience.

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What have you already decided?

Have you ever been caught off guard with news or situations, and are expected to respond quickly?

Or have you ever thought about a scenario with no easy answers, to which you’ve said: “I’ll figure it out when it happens?”

For the first question, don’t show up to life unprepared, and know that things always happen. And for the second question, don’t fool yourself into thinking you’ll have the solution when stuff hits the fan. By then, you’ll be in reactive mode aka horrible decision-making mode.

Of course, there are unknowns and making mistakes are okay…but wouldn’t it make sense to be over-prepared, have a foundation of values that direct your actions, and while learning the hard way for some things is sometimes the most effective way – isn’t it smarter to avoid as many car accidents as possible?

DECIDE AHEAD OF TIME.

If you don’t, you’ll let your circumstances decide for you – and the response is never optimal.

Before you start your day, decide to be happy no matter what seemingly negative thing comes your way. You’ll at least have a shield that can take a serious beating first; and can smile for longer periods of time.

Decide to eat healthier. For example – this morning I decided to not eat any carbs until dinner time…and while I’m on my flight to New York City and have been tempted with cookies on the plane, it’s sitting next to me with no power over me. This matter had already been settled in advance.

Decide to do only the most important thing today. While you will probably get distracted and lost in an email, tweet, or wall post during the day…priming yourself ahead of time will at least give you a better chance at being reminded or redirected to do what matters.

Decide to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything.

What have you already decided today?