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Directing Our Paths

“A man who waits to believe in action before acting is anything you like, but he is not a man of action. It is as if a tennis player before returning the ball stopped to think about his views of the physical and mental advantages of tennis. You must act as you breathe,” quotes Georges Cemeneceau, a French statesman. In this case of a tennis game, players must act without a moment’s thought, responding swiftly and instinctively. When we act as we breathe as Cemeneceau says, this means action without hesitation and thought. In a time of crisis, how should we react? Do occasions exist when in an urgent situation we should more carefully consider before handling a critical phase? Depending on the circumstances, some reactions to a crisis require preparations and thought, but every crisis requires action without dilatoriness.
First, what exactly defines a crisis? It refers to a crucial or decisive point or situation; a turning point. Degrees of a crisis vary immensely; it can describe either national economical depression, world war, or something small scale as a choking child or a moment during a sports game. Natural crisis phenomena such as an earthquake, tsunami, and volcanic eruption threaten life. Sin causes a crisis, in forms of malevolence, violence, and crime. Certainly many different kinds of crises arise, and for each one people must react either instantly and instinctively or carefully and more slowly.

Many times exist when immediate action without hesitation prevents dreadful results. For example, Eric Liddell, an Olympian and missionary, experienced a crisis while running a track event to determine who would earn a place on Great Britain’s Olympic team. With the bang of the pistol’s shot starting the race, Eric and his competitors exploded forward. Fifteen yards into the race, a competitor cut right in front of Eric, causing him to lose his balance and fly rolling into the grass and railing. With the slowest runner having a 20 yard advantage, winning appeared impossible. Appallingly, as he instantly started running again yard after yard, he passed each runner. Pushing harder, Eric crossed the finish line in first place (Caughey 7-8). In this example we view swift action the best effect. If Liddell had just dazedly wondered whether or not to continue, he would not have won.

Indeed, instinctive speed with preparation even saves lives. For example, firefighters have to rush into a blazing house to save people from the flames. While the house demolishes, firefighters cannot carefully ponder for the most efficient path to reach the people in the house. Instead, beforehand they have practiced and trained for such catastrophes. In the movie Fireproof, firefighters lift and move with their bare hands a crashed car over a train track just in the nick of time with terrorized people inside. Seconds later a train storms past on the very same tracks. Sometimes when dealing with a crisis we have no choice but to act hastily because of brevity of time.

On the other hand, some crises require more carefully thought-out decisions. Some rash deeds can only hurt the situation only more. When in the heat of an argument or mockery, piqued persons tend to retort back suddenly without thinking. Unfortunately, countless times we regret our speech or deeds in which we failed to first consider the action. In addition, during a time of war or depression, leaders must strategize steps to improve the situation. Therefore incidents do exist when planning and thinking would prevent the situation from growing worse.
In conclusion, preparation and consideration both play the role in dealing with a crisis, but always we must act as quickly as possible. God gave humans the hormone adrenaline for a profitable reason, though without training and preparedness, positive outcome may fail. During times of a crisis and danger, “[We] must act as we breathe,” says Cemeneceau; though we may not necessarily use this ability in every event. We should consider the long-term regrettable consequences which may result from reacting impulsively. As Christians, no matter what the situation, we can “trust in the Lord with all of [our] heart… and He shall direct [our] paths (Proverbs 3:5-6)



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