How to make great decisions

Published 10:05 am Thursday, March 21, 2024

By R.A. Mathews

Asa.

That was his first name: Asa. 

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I was a child when Asa was hired as the associate minister at our church. He was an older man. Actually, I thought Asa was ancient, and his name didn’t help matters. It seemed to date back to antiquity—along with him.

I don’t recall ever speaking with Ancient Asa. My family attended church every Sunday, rain or shine, so I think I would remember. But he came in handy once I started seminary, although Asa was probably Dead Asa by then. Here’s what happened.

At twenty-one, the Old Testament was largely a vast wilderness to me. I didn’t know Solomon had turned on God or that civil war had split Israel into two nations—one confusingly named “Israel” and the other “Judah.” I was clueless as to the ruler who first brought a decade of peace to those two embittered nations. 

It was King Asa! 

Of course, he was a good king—how embarrassing if Ancient Asa’s family had named him for a bad one. (2 Chronicles 14:1)

He boldly stopped the worship of foreign gods pursued by King Solomon and his son and his son. Instead, Asa urged his people to seek the Lord, and the king did just that in the face of dire trouble. 

It seems a vast Ethiopian army had marched against Judah, outnumbering Asa’s army by nearly two to one. Here’s the passage.

“Now Asa had an army of three hundred thousand from Judah … and 280,000 from Benjamin … Now Zerah the Ethiopian went out against them with an army of a million men … Then Asa … said, ‘…help us, Lord our God, for we trust in You’ … So the Lord routed the Ethiopians before Asa and … so many Ethiopians fell that they could not recover…” (2 Chronicles 14:8-13)

It was unbelievable. Truly a miracle.

God’s prophet then instructed Asa, saying, “The Lord is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you. But if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.” (2 Chronicles 15:2)

In the thirty-sixth year of Asa’s reign, Israel came against Judah, ending the ten years of peace. Asa quickly aligned himself with the king of Syria, who drew Israel’s army away from Asa by attacking Israel’s cities. (2 Chronicles 16)

So, Asa prevailed again—a great thing, right?

God didn’t see it that way.

The Lord’s messenger told Asa, “Because you relied on the king of Syria, and did not rely on the Lord your God, the king of Syria escaped you. Were not the Ethiopians … an immense army … Yet because you relied on the Lord, He handed them over to you. For the eyes of the Lord roam throughout the earth, so that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. You have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will have wars.” (2 Chronicles 16:7-9)

Remember, Asa had been guided: “…seek Him (and) He will be found by you. But if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.” (2 Chronicles 15:2)

If Asa had just remembered the Ethiopians. 

If he had turned to God in his panic, the Lord would have taken care of both Israel and Syria. Instead, after Asa’s death, the king of Syria nearly killed Asa’s son in battle.

It wasn’t the first time a miracle had been forgotten. Look at what the Hebrews said just six weeks into the wilderness. 

…on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departure from the land of Egypt … the whole congregation … grumbled against Moses and Aaron (saying), ‘If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread until we were full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill (us) …’” (Exodus 16:1-3)

God parted the Red Sea! How could the Hebrews forget that? But they had.

Given Ancient Asa, I’ll remember that King Asa was good and loved the Lord. Nevertheless, in the face of fear, Asa forgot how God routed the million-man army. He didn’t seek the Lord’s guidance and made the wrong choice.

Like Asa and the Hebrews, you’ll do the same. You’ll make the wrong decision in a crisis if you don’t keep God’s miracles in front of you. Record them and read from your Miracles Book every day. 

No matter how often I say this, most reply, “I’ll remember!” But If Scripture teaches anything, it’s that God’s people forgot their miracles.

The quality of your life depends on your decisions. Always seek Him, remembering what God has done for you.

The Rev. Mathews (BA, MDiv, JD) is a newspaper faith columnist and the author of “Emerald Coast: The Vendetta.” Write to her about receiving free e-books at Hello@RAMathews.com. (Just one t in Mathews)

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