Reflections on The Choice by Dr. Frank Thomas

Posted: June 30, 2016 in Book and Article Reviews
Tags: , , , ,

The Choice is the unfolding of Dr. Thomas’ discernment process in making important choices.  But, it is also more than that; it is also a demonstration of his preaching as decision process.  The book wrestles with the idea about making wise choices that emerge from a life lived “inside-out” rather than “outside-in.”  In other words, living out of our God-given passions.  Making choices out of our deepest, God-given passions allows us to be “victors rather than victims” to our circumstances.  Every situation (usually) offers us some kind of choice.  Inability to see options, to see choices, renders us prisoner to those various circumstances.

The recognition of choice does not solve the dilemma that faces us, however.  Rather, this is where the difficult work begins.  “How do we make a wise and good decision?” must then be asked.  We may be able to communicate what we think we want, but are we deeply aware of “what we want, really?”  In other words, the choices that we make reveal our deepest convictions about life, about ourselves, and about God.  Do these choices line up with the things that we say we believe?  Or, are we fractured people whose choices run counter to those beliefs we say we hold?  Our choices say a great deal about our implicit convictions.

Another hindrance or barrier to making wise choices that come from our deepest passions is fear.  Fear of the new and unknown future, fear of the risk of failure, fear of our own inadequacy, and fear that rationalizes other options can bind and arrest us from progressing toward the future to which God is calling us.  Forging new patterns of life is difficult; it is even more difficult when “success” is not guaranteed.  Dr. Thomas suggests that defining our choice helps us move past fear.  We are called to serve and to “renew our yes” to that calling.  It is at the intersection of service and our deepest passions where we find our vocational lives, our calling.  God continues to draw us to those places, if we would only say, “Here I am, send me.”

The final sections move us toward “executing the choice” and “releasing the choice.”  One of the most powerful things that I have found to be true is that I cannot do this journey without community.  Dr. Thomas asks if we have a “teachable spirit.”  In other words, are there those that walk alongside us providing accountability, challenge, encouragement, and wisdom?  The Christian community is called to do this for one another.  Of course, engaging in community can also be painful, even in the Church.  Yet, it is through sharing our brokenness that we are shaped for God’s new future.

In “releasing the choice,” we are reminded of the integral foundation of prayer in making wise choices.  Relying on our own strength and power to accomplish God’s future for us may very well land us in more difficulty.  To inquire of the Lord, to listen and wait, is the work of discipleship.  We follow where Jesus leads and the same is true in discerning the various choices set before us.  We cannot discern God’s voice if we do not inquire of God and listen carefully in each situation that present itself.

The role of backstory in preaching is that it is the contextual soil from which sermonic flora germinates.  Every sermon, interpretation, hermeneutic is contextual.  We are not a tabula resa when it comes to engaging in these activities.  We cannot interpret in a theological or experiential vacuum.  Instead, we bring these experiences to bear on both life and text.  The backstory in The Choice demonstrates the place from which these particular sermons to this particular community at this particular time arose (although it has been somewhat de-contextualized by virtue of being written).

I noticed several connections in the book to the lectures for class.  First, the power of human agency in choosing was evident.  Sermons are trying to get to “core belief,” which is also the center from which we intuitively make choices.  Sermons begin and end in an act of listening.  Wise choices begin there as well.  Also, the sermon is intended to end in celebration; there is a similar celebration that emerges when we begin to live out of our deepest passions that come from “core belief.”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s