I cannot recall when I first came to grips with how much I wanted the option to choose something for myself. I am confident it began in early childhood. It usually does for all of us. It can be those pesky things about what we play with and whom we play with or what we want to wear or don’t want to wear, and so on. Early on in our lives that desire to be unfettered by the choices of others pokes its head up above the surface.
What I didn’t recognize for so much longer was the responsibility that was mine when I was allowed to choose. I couldn’t blame anyone else when I was the one choosing.
After that began to dawn on me, I think that most days I went along making choices and not thinking a great deal about them. So many daily choices can seem inconsequential at the time and many of them truly are, but not all. Sometimes the consequence of the choice does not show up for a very long time so it can be easy to forget my part in it.
I can choose to eat only the things I like and only go to bed or work when I feel like it. The first day I make such a choice is easy. It is even easier to do so a second day because I usually experience no consequences for it at the time. I won’t notice the effect on my health for perhaps a long time. I won’t notice that I actually reduce how many options I increasingly must choose from if those patterns aren’t healthy.
Small choices develop patterns of choices over time that lead to results I never bargained for.
I can easily forget that choice was first of all a gift from my Creator at the very beginning. It was and is a powerful gift! He wants me to choose to love Him and devote my life to Him. He could have made it a mandate for His creation, but He didn’t. And choices are often not easy.
“Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.”J. K. Rowling
An easy choice seems to cost me nothing. An easy choice fits in because it agrees with everyone else’s choice. An easy choice looks good on the outside.
I wonder if God gives us so many opportunities to practice choosing because He knows that at some point the things we must choose between will not be at all easy. Some of those things will come from small things we thought had no meaning or consequence. Some of them will come as a bolt out of the night and expose our cowardice when we try to avoid the choice that has come to us.
Each choice will finally highlight what we believe. It will also expose whom we believe and whether we are willing to risk being identified with Him, risk following Him, and risk trusting Him when it isn’t easy. Each choice will expose areas of unbelief as well.
In every great story, every great movie, the character in the story learns of a choice that is set before them. The tension in the reader or the audience grows steadily as the character grapples with the choice. In The Matrix Neo is offered the choice between the blue pill and the red pill without clear assurance for what will happen with either choice.
Frodo chooses to accept the ring and the challenges that come with it, but as he comes to realize how difficult that path is in The Fellowship of the Ring he says, “I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.” The ever-wise Gandalf responds, “So do all who live to see such times but that is not for them to decide. All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given you.”