If given the choice between a meal at the fanciest gourmet restaurant or McDonald’s, which would you choose? There are several reasons people frequently opt for fast food, and this points to some larger issues in how we make important, life-altering decisions in our lives.
Of course, sometimes you might just be having a Big Mac attack, craving greasy, high-calorie food instead of things that are better for you. Yes, there is some immediate pleasure, but how does that make you feel a few hours later?
At other times, your decision to settle for fast food may be a matter of cost. Hey, you can get LOTS of food at McDonald’s for the price of a good steak at Ruth’s Chris. But think about it: You also can buy dog food relatively inexpensively if that’s what you are willing to settle for.
Although I don’t eat much fast food these days, I’m sure it’s main attraction for me was simply SPEED and convenience. Even when I could afford Ruth’s Chris, I didn’t want to spend an hour or two to eat there. Usually, I was in a time crunch, on the way to some meeting or appointment. Sitting down for a gourmet meal wasn’t enough of a priority to carve out time in my schedule.
I’ve been challenged by these principles lately, for they don’t just apply to my diet, but to other priorities and decisions in my life.
For example, am I truly willing to practice delayed gratification instead of indulging my “sweet tooth” for momentary pleasures? Am I willing to patiently pay the price to receive God’s BEST for my life instead of settling for mediocre options and outcomes?
Many Bible stories speak to these issues, but I’m especially intrigued by the prophet Samuel’s quest to find the next king (1 Samuel 16:1-13). The Lord had instructed him to select the new king from among the sons of Jesse, which at least narrowed down his search.
But it turned out that Jesse had many sons, so it potentially could be a long day to determine which of them was God’s choice.
Starting with the oldest son, Eliab, the prophet began his review process. “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him!” he said enthusiastically (v. 6).
This misguided assumption by Samuel should cause each of us to pause and realize how we might be prone to the same error. Like a McDonald’s drive-through, the easiest decision would be to simply anoint Eliab and be done with it.
Yet as the story continues, God tells Samuel his perspective is all wrong:
Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart (v. 7).
Think of how this might apply to your own life today. If you’re considering a business deal or new career offer, are you content to merely examine how it appears on the surface? If you are seeking a wife or husband, are you prone to be swayed by their physical appearance rather than what God has done in their heart?
One by one, seven of Jesse’s sons came before Samuel, and the Lord surprisingly turned each of them down. From a human perspective, each of these young men probably seemed like good candidates: handsome, strong, and with a good upbringing.
But could you imagine how Israel’s history might have been different if Samuel had settled for one of these first seven options? It would have been quite easy to do so, especially when Option #8 hadn’t even appeared on the scene yet.
Samuel must have been puzzled when God refused to put His stamp of approval on any of Jesse’s first seven sons. “Are ALL the young men here?” he finally asked in frustration (v. 11).
No one had even thought to invite David to the big event. After all, he was the youngest, assigned to the menial task of caring for his father’s sheep.
Like Samuel, perhaps you’re looking at your options today on some important matter. Maybe you’ve already discarded the first seven possibilities, and you see no other prospects on the horizon. So…will you wait for Option #8—the option that’s still hidden from your view?
It had been a long day for Samuel, just as our selection processes in life may seem long and arduous. But when David finally appeared, there was no doubt that He was God’s man. “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!” Samuel said, certainly with great relief.
My friend, God has wonderful plans for you. He wants to give you His best. But that means you’ll have to be patient, waiting for the other options to pass by.
Your “David” is right around the corner. I hope you won’t settle for anything less.