Wednesday, April 21, 2004
Twice in a little over a decade, Saddam Hussein's Iraq has been the focus of a war involving American and other Coalition forces. Operation Iraqi Freedom, the second Gulf War, turned out to be much quicker than anyone could have imagined. Saddam Hussein was toppled from power and ultimately captured. But that didn't stop critics from calling into question the intelligence that led to the decision to send troops to Iraq. The absence of the expected stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction brought a widespread outcry for an investigation into how American intelligence missed what appeared to be the real situation. Well, you know, this is nothing new. It's always been important for a country to have reliable intelligence information before they venture into battle. A lot of important decisions are made based upon the reports from intelligence.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Intel and Intelligent Choices."
Of course, good intelligence isn't just important when war is a possibility. It's important in many decisions you and I have to make. But all too often we charge ahead with little or no intel. And we usually end up paying for it.
There's an enlightening example of how to make "no regrets" decisions in our word for today from the Word of God. It's in Numbers 13:1, as God's people near the border of the land that God has promised to them. The Bible says, "The Lord said to Moses, 'Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites." That's interesting in light of the fact that God has told them He is going to give them that land. The outcome is certain, as long as they obey Him. But still, He says, "I want you to scout it out before you go in."
In fact, Moses gives his scouts a checklist of at least seven specific things he wants them to check out before he leads the people in: the number of people there, the strength of the Canaanites, the quality of the land, the kind of fortifications there, the condition of the soil, the trees in the land, and the fruit in the land. The victory was guaranteed, but that was no excuse for not scouting out what's ahead.
I wrote three words in my Bible next to these verses: "Do your homework!" And that's usually God's way. Research before you run ahead. Explore before you proceed. Many times what seems like the mystery of what God's will is in a situation is significantly clarified by just getting all the facts. Following the Spirit's leadership doesn't just mean being impulsive. The facts won't answer every question about what to do. Remember, "Without faith, it is impossible to please God" (Hebrews 11:6). God will use the facts to point you in the direction He's leading, but He'll always leave the need for faith in the equation.
In Proverbs 15:22, God gives this practical advice about decision-making, "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed." And then, Jesus gave another important piece of intelligence you need to scout out. "First sit down and estimate the cost" (Luke 14:28). Draw out the lines and see what this will cost you - money, reputation, a relationship, other priorities, your closeness to God. If you're rushing to judgment, you'll likely make a decision you will ultimately regret, because you did not take time for your due diligence in scouting the land before you went charging in. That kind of impatience and impulsiveness can lead you to a terrible mistake - the wrong job, the wrong school, the wrong man or woman.
Good intelligence leads to good decisions. Failure to scout out the facts leads to bad decisions that often allow no do-overs.