According to the dictionary choice means “an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities.” The challenge for us is how often we have a love-hate relationship with making a choice. We want the freedom of choice, but that requires us to think and consider what we really want or need. That is not always easy to decide.
When I use the word “choice” or “choices,” most of us will automatically have some of the major choices of life come to mind: where we will live, whom we will date or marry, what school we will attend, and what work we will pursue. You’re right! Those are BIG ones for sure.
Have you considered how early in life we are asked or told we need to make such choices? It happens so early that we may not possess enough information or experience to be sure of what choice to make.
I watch my grandchildren who are in the midst of so many choices about what college or major he or she will select, what medical school is the best option, or where to pursue an internship. Think about how old a person is when those decisions come along. Then consider how much more you know about yourself and the world around you when you are 30, 40, 50, or older.
But those are the headline types of choices. What we fail to recognize at times is that each day, each hour, we are making dozens of choices. Some of them may not affect the course of our life ahead, but all of them will have consequences. And what helps us most in making choices is when we have opportunities to make them when we are really very young. If we do, it gives us a chance to learn in hopefully a safe environment with our parents and to experience the consequences of our choices when their love, experience and grace can help train us to be better at decision-making.
Every time I say, “yes” to something, I am automatically saying “no” to everything else. Every time I say “no” to something, I am saying, “yes” to something else. And we do it so often in those small choices that we rarely take time to think a lot about the results.
Every day we make a choice about when and if we will get out of bed, what clothes we will put on, whether we will eat breakfast or not and if so, what we will eat. We will make a choice about what route to take to work and what time we leave to get there and how we feel about what is required of us that day. We will make choices about how we respond – to those with whom we live, work, play, and minister.
As these choices start adding up month-by-month, year-by-year, we inevitably are choosing the course of every area of our lives until we arrive at mid-life and sometimes wonder how we arrived where we are. In those cases I am talking less about those major decisions I mentioned earlier and more about those little choices that become habits and a lifestyle without a lot of consideration on our part.
Those little choices lead us to how healthy we are in every area of our lives: physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, relationally, and financially. Those with whom we live and interact, what we read or watch, what we tune out or what we tune in, heavily influence those little choices. There is a continual selection process going on. Yes, our DNA and our personality influence us a great deal, but these other things are key.
How did we get here?
No matter where we live, how old we are, what our education, what our culture, what our financial condition, etc., God gave His most significant creation – mankind – the freedom of choice. He even gave us a choice about whether or not we would recognize Him, call Him God, choose to believe in His Son, Jesus, and whether or not we would follow Him and in what way we would do that.
What a risk He took!
Most of us have failed miserably along the way…more than once, but He has never ceased to pursue us. He has permitted many things in our life that we question or wonder how a loving God could permit, but He has not sought to ever harm us.
He longs for us to know Him, even though He is beyond our understanding. He longs for us to discover how fierce His love is, even though we cannot grasp the full height and depth of it. He longs for us to enjoy His presence, even though we often don’t make a lot of time to simply be with Him. He longs for us to stand in the midst of trial, even though we wobble and weaken to the point of sometimes sitting down. He longs for us to reflect Him, even when we often look more like the world than Him.
Many of us know the Old Testament Bible stories about heroes of the faith like Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, Esther, and more. One passage in Joshua still applies to us each day as we make choices:
“Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:14-15 (ESV)
It isn’t the gods beyond the river, in Egypt, or those of the Amorites that may tempt us, but many other things do tempt us. Each day we must choose whom we will serve. That choice will affect every other choice we make and influence every consequence.
He chose us first:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” Ephesians 1:3-4 (ESV)
To be chosen and hear the “Yes” of God means that He said “No” to Satan’s realm, to the second death, to utter darkness and pain. It means He has fashioned and purposed me for His Kingdom.
My choice of Him is a freedom He gave me.
My answer was “Yes.”
What will your choice be?