The covid inquiry is currently in the process of taking evidence. As part of his, Dominic Cummings speaks in this video about the nickname they used for Boris Johnson because of his propensity to change direction.
Now, I am not here to pass judgement on the specific and best way to have handled the pandemic. The inquiry is underway to establish the facts as to how and why it was approached as it was. But I think most of us can agree – wherever we may fall on the best way to have handled those events – simply ‘trolleying’ in the face of the latest advice from whichever advisor happened to be bringing it is not a great way to govern a country.
If you are of the view that locking down was essential, that position is necessarily undermined by unlocking and allowing people to mingle. If you are of the view that locking down will crash the economy and ought to be avoided, locking down will necessarily undermine that regardless of how long you do it for; the economy will necessarily take a hit. There are various other options available but, what seems clear, whatever position you take and the specific reasons you take it, the benefits of doing whatever it is you do will necessarily be undermined by changing direction on it. Whatever the merits of of any of the possible courses of action, those benefits will clearly be lost if it is not seen through. A mish-mash position, or a bit of one position for a time and then an entirely different one later, will lose pretty much all the benefits of whatever position you originally took.
I am reminded of the word of James to the church:
5 Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God—who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly—and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith without doubting.[b] For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord, 8 being double-minded and unstable in all his ways.[c]
James is telling us that, fundamentally, that we can trust God. We can ask God for wisdom, trusting in faith that God will grant it to us. If we doubt God, he says, we will not be wise but double-minded and unstable in all our ways. That is, we won’t know what to do and we will end up being flip-floppers who do not have the benefit of any given approach, but lose them as quickly as we inevitably change direction.
For James, wisdom is found in trusting God to guide our footsteps. God is a counsellor who can be trusted. He is one we can ask for wisdom and trust that he will guide us in doing what is right. We can read his Word and ask him to help us understand it and to trust what it says to work for our good even when we cannot see how that might be the case. God is a good God, who makes his people wise by trusting in him and we gain the benefit of his goodness when we trust his wisdom and act on it in faith.
If we do not trust God, we will be double-minded. We will change direction constantly. We will doubt God’s Word, perhaps doing it for a time and then trolleying on it. But when we do that, we lose whatever benefit and good it would have done us. Our change in direction – like a boat whose engine has broken being tossed to and fro by the wind on the sea – will mean we ultimately end up going nowhere at all. True wisdom is found in trusting God, trusting his Word, trusting his goodness and believing that he will serve our good when we seek to honour him.
There are no end of possible advisors we might follow. No end of possible ways we might conduct ourselves. But true wisdom is found in asking God, seeking his counsel and then acting on it in faith. Then we will be strong and stable, not flip-flopping and losing all the benefit of taking any given direction.