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The Smartest Move is to Stop

Picture this. You are merrily going through your day. So far, so good. For a patch of time, it’s been smooth waters. Maybe you’re thinking, Wow, look at me go! See me sail! There’s not even been a speed bump. Life is sweet!

And then…everything goes sideways. The phone rings. The mail arrives. An accident occurs. Your boss reprimands you. The kids get home from school whining. Or your husband home from work complaining. And everything — all that peace and order and well-being and control that had you soaring through your perfect day — falls apart. It’s like out of nowhere someone shot a torpedo into your beautiful little boat.

What is the general first response most people make when something like this occurs? In a word, reaction. Your natural tendency is to strike back, talk back, react, blow up, defend yourself, fall apart, cry, throw your hands in the air, or just give up. Well, right here, at this very juncture, your first choice has got to be to stop. I think of it as coming to a screeeeeching halt! Just put the brakes on—on your emotions, on your mouth, on your actions. Just stop! And might I say, stop quickly!

Why? Because the surest way to make a wrong choice is to rush before reasoning. To fail to stop and think before acting. To make a quick or snap or emotional decision without making sure you know the right way to handle a situation, or before you know the right decision to make. You can see it right in your Bible: “He sins who hastens with his feet” (Proverbs 19:2). You can also read that in contrast “the heart of the righteous studies how to answer” (Proverbs 15:28).

Poor decisions leading to failure can happen oh so quickly! It’s like lightning. One minute all is well, and the next brings the crash and the devastation. All you have to do is fail to stop before you do anything, fail to stop before you act, fail to stop before you move, fail to stop before you speak. Once again, just stop.

Sure, there are some decisions that have to be made instantaneously. But even if your house is on fire, or there’s a terrible accident or medical emergency, or the baby’s on the way now, you can still stop even for a millisecond and take a breath, and blitz through some options, and shoot up a “Help, Lord!” That one or two split-second stop can help you form a plan on the go while zooming onward to handle a crisis.

So, the first step toward any good decision begins the same. Stop…then you can begin to look and listen. Then you can look for help. Then you can look for solutions. Then you can look for answers. And then you can listen to the wise counsel of others, and most of all, to the still, small voice of God guiding and instructing you about how to handle your problem His way – the wise, the best, and the right way.

Question: I have friend who tells herself to “stop, drop, and pray” before reacting. What phrase or verse from the bible can you use to remind yourself to stop, and think before acting?

Read The Smartest Move is to Stop on Elizabeth & Jim George.


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