Today is about choices. Yesterday I blogged about free will. We are all given free will by God. The choices that we make with that free will sometimes can be a little frightening. Yesterday, I really tried to realize how many choices I make in a day and when do I call on God to help me make those choices. Before I get to my own choices, I want to highlight a few biblical stories of free will.
The Story of Cain and Abel from the book of Genesis 4:3-9 (from The Message)
Cain brought an offering to God from the produce of his farm. Abel also brought an offering, but from the firstborn animals of his herd, choice cuts of meat. God liked Abel and his offering, but Cain and his offering didn’t get his approval. Cain lost his temper and went into a sulk. God spoke to Cain: “Why this tantrum? Why the sulking? If you do well, won’t you be accepted? And if you don’t do well, sin is lying in wait for you, ready to pounce; it’s out to get you, you’ve got to master it.” Cain had words with his brother. They were out in the field; Cain came at Abel his brother and killed him. God said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?”He said, “How should I know? Am I his babysitter?”
The Story of Moses Exodus 3:1-12 (from the Message)
Moses was shepherding the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. He led the flock to the west end of the wilderness and came to the mountain of God, Horeb. The angel of God appeared to him in flames of fire blazing out of the middle of a bush. He looked. The bush was blazing away but it didn’t burn up. Moses said, “What’s going on here? I can’t believe this! Amazing! Why doesn’t the bush burn up?” God saw that he had stopped to look. God called to him from out of the bush, “Moses! Moses!”He said, “Yes? I’m right here!” God said, “Don’t come any closer. Remove your sandals from your feet. You’re standing on holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father: The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.”Moses hid his face, afraid to look at God. God said, “I’ve taken a good, long look at the affliction of my people in Egypt. I’ve heard their cries for deliverance from their slave masters; I know all about their pain. And now I have come down to help them, pry them loose from the grip of Egypt, get them out of that country and bring them to a good land with wide-open spaces, a land lush with milk and honey, the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite. “The Israelite cry for help has come to me, and I’ve seen for myself how cruelly they’re being treated by the Egyptians. It’s time for you to go back: I’m sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the People of Israel, out of Egypt.” Moses answered God, “But why me? What makes you think that I could ever go to Pharaoh and lead the children of Israel out of Egypt?” “I’ll be with you,” God said. “And this will be the proof that I am the one who sent you: When you have brought my people out of Egypt, you will worship God right here at this very mountain.”
Conversion of Saul Acts 9:1-9 (from the Message)
All this time Saul was breathing down the necks of the Master’s disciples, out for the kill. He went to the Chief Priest and got arrest warrants to take to the meeting places in Damascus so that if he found anyone there belonging to the Way, whether men or women, he could arrest them and bring them to Jerusalem. He set off. When he got to the outskirts of Damascus, he was suddenly dazed by a blinding flash of light. As he fell to the ground, he heard a voice: “Saul, Saul, why are you out to get me?” He said, “Who are you, Master?” “I am Jesus, the One you’re hunting down. I want you to get up and enter the city. In the city you’ll be told what to do next.”His companions stood there dumbstruck—they could hear the sound, but couldn’t see anyone—while Saul, picking himself up off the ground, found himself stone-blind. They had to take him by the hand and lead him into Damascus. He continued blind for three days. He ate nothing, drank nothing.
Here are three examples of God granting free will to His people. Cain of course chose to exclude God from his free will choices. He chose to kill his brother out of envy and revenge. Moses ultimately uses his free will to choose God. Although, Moses does go back and forth as to why on earth God has called him to free the Israelites. He relinquishes his doubt and allows God to work through him. Moses goes on to free the Israelites from slavery and oppression. Saul (who will someday be called Paul) had been choosing to ignore God most of His life. He was arresting and threatening anyone who followed Jesus. On the road to Damascus he was confronted with God. Saul ultimately chooses to listen to God’s Will. After being blinded and healed from blindness, he goes on to convert thousands of people to Christianity.
Just one day of choices led to either the demise or rise of these individuals. So if you think that your everyday choices are meaningless – you are wrong. Yesterday, I found that I make choices all day long. It starts with getting out of bed. I can choose to get out of bed or stay in bed. Food choices arise, then after that I am face to face with my kids. At that moment I get to choose to be patient and kind or angry and snappy. I can choose to be happy about doing dishes, packing lunches, and cleaning up after my family or I can choose to be bitter that no one is helping me. I can take my kids to school or keep them home (I think we all know what I chose there). I choose the route that I drive to that school. Who knows what accidents I avoided? An ambulance passes me by, I can choose to pray for the people or ignore that they are suffering. A friend calls to meet me for coffee, I choose to have her come over and workout with me instead. How do I know what I avoided at the coffee place (except I do know I avoided some unwanted calories)? My friend and I have a productive conversation. It could have been bitter and gossipy, but it wasn’t. It was fruitful and meaningful (and actually very inspiring). I had the choice of attending a meeting or getting some work done around the house. I chose household chores. Who knows if this was the right choice or not? My day continued with choice after choice after choice.
What I found was that I rarely consult God with my choices. When I do think about asking God, sometimes I hesitate because I know His answer is not the one I want to hear. I probably should have gone to my afternoon meeting. It is an important part of my week. I would have been a little late, but it would have equipped me for my day of choices. I wanted to ask God’s opinion, but I was afraid of what He would say. To be honest, even if God appeared as a burning bush or a flash of light, I am still not sure I would have attended that meeting.
Avoiding God on my free will choices was a scary realization to me yesterday. There are so many choices in one day that I forget how important each one truly is to my life. Each choice could change my pathway for the day. Each choice will have a consequence associated with it. Each choice may seem small, but in all actuality each one is huge.
Never allow yourself to believe that choices are meaningless. They aren’t. Pray for God’s continual help in making choices. Pray that He will let you see His Will clearly. Pray that you will accept His Will and follow through with it by making good choices. Remember, each choice can change the pathway for your entire day – it may even change your life.