You’re approaching a busy intersection and the light goes from green to yellow – you make the choice to either speed up and try to beat the red light, or you hit the brakes and wait. You’re trying to lose weight, but at the birthday party you’re attending you discover the dessert is your favorite kind of cake – you make the choice to eat it and risk a set back, or you don’t eat it and stay on track. You’re offered a new job with much higher pay and great benefits, but you’d have to relocate – you make the choice whether to make the move and risk things possibly not working out the way you planned, or you stay put where things are comfortable and familiar.
Some choices we make have fairly minor results. Eating one piece of cake at a celebratory occasion does not bring on the end of the world. But speeding through an intersection could bring the end of you, or someone else, and this result would be horrible. One choice for most of us is whether to believe, or not believe, in God. (Yes, I realize there are still some small pockets of people groups around the world that have not heard the Gospel yet. I am speaking more about those of us who have had access and exposure to Christian influences) There are a lot of us who would say, “sure I believe in God,” and they are being truthful in saying that. But that’s the easy part. Now comes the choice of whether or not you are going to live it out, regardless of what comes your way. Because we are always going to be influenced by the things of this world, and we have to make the choice to be under those influences, or over them.
One way we can hold true to what we say we believe is in how we view who God is, and what He can do. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines God as, “a spirit or being that has great power, strength, knowledge, etc.” and, “the supreme or ultimate reality: as the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe.” I guess that sounds pretty impressive, but really, it’s a very lame attempt to describe the indescribable.
(** First off I have to say that NO church is perfect. Every single one of them, regardless of denomination and size, has good points and bad points, they have ups and downs, and years of decline and growth. What’s most important is that the desire is to always be working to fulfill the Great Commission that was given by Christ.**) I have this sort of love/hate thing going on when it comes to my own religious upbringing. I was born and raised in a non-denominational, traditional evangelical church with a rich, but sometimes troubled history. Looking back to the time I was growing up there, I can see how the things I was taught greatly shaped my view of God, both good and bad. Unfortunately, during what I perceived as a low point in the church’s history, I left and abandoned many of the good things I had been taught. During the almost two decades that I was not living a Christ-centered life, it was the negative things that I held on to and in doing so, I perpetuated an image of God that drove me farther and farther from Him. However, once I had children, things began to change. I did not want them to view God the way I did, so by trying to give them “a fighting chance,” I ended up giving myself the chance to learn again who He really is. Like countless other churches, I had been taught from an early age about sin; what things were sinful and the cost of committing those sins. And even though the forgiveness of sins was also taught, the things I remembered was how BAD of a person you were for making the choice to commit the sin and the feeling of how disappointed God would be in you for sinning. But most of all, I remembered being afraid of God. I was afraid because of who they portrayed God to be – He was this all powerful, gigantic, thunder and lightning, being of doom that sat on a huge throne up in the sky and watched every single move I made! Well, that was the image I had in my little head, anyway. And when I got older, and walked away from it all, I still had that image in my head. This makes my behavior even more ridiculous because I knew I was sinning, I was making the choices every day, yet I did so still being afraid and convinced that God was going to send me to a particularly nasty spot in hell when I died because I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER. When I returned to my faith in a different church, and learned about God in a new light, oddly enough the fearful ways that I had always viewed Him have now become my strongest reasons for staying in His presence. He’s still the same powerful Being. But now, I look at that power and I take great comfort in it; I don’t fear anything else because of that power. I don’t doubt, because of that power. He is still thunder and lightning, the crashing waves, He is fire and creation shakes at His command! He is more powerful than death! And in the shadow of all that is where I now choose to be.
So what does the overly-long, previous paragraph have to do with making a choice? Well, it shows the effects of what you choose to believe. Do you believe in God at all? If so, what exactly do you believe about Him? How does what you believe shape your day-to-day, and what do you do when hard times rain down? Because we all know that hard times come, and oftentimes we feel like we are going to collapse under them. How you come out on the other side of those hard times can greatly depend on whether you make the choice to give it to God, or try to muscle through it without Him. In my experiences, muscling it through was not the right choice. Why? Because I could not see what was on the other side. None of us can see that. But God has seen it; He has seen our entire existence.
The choices that we make, large and small, determine the paths of our lives. Sometimes a bad choice can be redeemed, and you get the chance to choose again. But sometimes that opportunity never comes and you have to learn to live with that bad choice. It’s possible to live with the results of a bad choice, even more possible when you’ve laid it at God’s feet. We are not perfect and there will be times when something you thought was the right choice ended up being wrong. But here’s the thing…when you make the choice for God, you can leave the decision up to Him, because He IS perfect.
You just have to make the choice to believe, and live fully in that choice.
Céad míle beannachta. (One hundred thousand blessings)