Paralysis of Analysis

Terry Walton


I Was Thinking…

It is a problem of ethics.  You have an opportunity to solve the problem.  You are driving along in your automobile on a wild and stormy night.  You travel by a bus stop where you see three people waiting for the bus:  1) an elderly lady who looks as if she may die.  2) Your best friend who once saved your life.  And 3) The perfect man/woman you have been dreaming about all your life.

There can only be one passenger in the automobile with you.  You cannot return to the bus stop once you have left it.  To which one would you offer a ride?  This is a moral/ethical dilemma that was once used on an employment questionnaire.  How would you answer?

The candidate who was hired (out of 200 applicants) had no trouble with his answer.  His answer?  “I would give the car keys to my old friend and let him take the elderly lady to the hospital.  I would stay behind and wait for the bus with the woman of my dreams.”

I would like to tell you that this would have been my answer, but I cannot.  Without knowing the answer, I was puzzled and not sure what to do.  The dilemma had me paralyzed for quite some time.  I was paralyzed because I wanted to be correct and I wanted to find a way for everyone to be safe and happy.  I was missing the creative response.

Have you ever experienced the ‘paralysis of analysis’?  We may be in such a time as this… ‘paralysis of analysis’.  Do we go to the grocery store or not?  Do we trust the police or not?  Are we systemically paralyzed by racism or not?  Do we spend our treasure or save our treasure?  The ‘paralysis of analysis’.

The danger is we can become so weary of this paralyzing time that our life pendulum will swing into the very dangers that frighten and thus paralyze us.  Or our life pendulum can swing in the other direction and we begin to justify our present situation as the oasis that needs no change…and conclude that everyone else has or is the problem.

There may be a creative solution that is of the Holy Spirit.  Remember the four friends that carried a paralytic to see Jesus? (Mark 2:1-12) He was physically paralyzed.  His friends could have been paralyzed by his paralysis, but they were not.  They loved him and had just enough faith in what they were hearing about Jesus to transport him to meet Jesus. 

When they arrived, there were so many others present that they could not get into the door of the house where Jesus was present.  They could have analyzed the situation and concluded that their efforts of faith and love were a waste of their time.  They did not…they looked creatively to the roof and lowered their friend into the presence of the forgiving and healing Jesus.  The result?  We know at least five lives were changed forever…and I suspect many more.

There is a fine line between accepting reality and approaching reality in faith.  The Holy Spirit is the bridge that carries us along that line.  The Holy Spirit is God’s creative power that helps us see what otherwise we would not be able to see.  The Holy Spirit helps us do what otherwise we would not be able to do.  The Holy Spirit empowers us to become what we otherwise would not become.

Would we help each other not to succumb to the ‘paralysis of analysis’?  I invite the Holy Spirit into my heart, my mind, my very life.  I am open and ready to be a vessel for creative responses that only God can know and only God can do.  How about you?
Always Thinking…

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