Choose life. This command consists of two small and simple words, but the consequences of either obeying or disobeying are huge. I know – I’ve lived it. So why is “choose life” the topic of my latest series? That’s easy. I believe wholeheartedly that life presents us with innumerable choices every day, week, month and year. And these choices have consequences – either for good or for bad. While I knew this topic was to be my next series, I struggled with getting it started. It took me a while, but I finally figured out why. In order to move forward in this study, I first had to look behind, to the history of it, for me.
To help you understand why choosing life is so important to me, I have to share a bit of my background. I grew up in dysfunction and poverty. I never knew my father and my mother was emotionally absent. I grew up witnessing physical abuse and experiencing neglect and sexual abuse. In many ways, I was always the “adult” of the family – even as a child. My immediate, and extended, family is plagued by depression, pessimism, substance abuse, poverty and a thoroughly victim mentality. There is no sense of hope, optimism, motivation, joy, peace or life. To say they are oppressed would be an understatement. It’s like they live death.
From the time that I was very young, I was dissatisfied with life as I knew it and believed there had to be a better way. I started to look beyond my own family to see how others lived, worked and played. I started to see opportunities to make change. I saw that there were choices out there, and if I wanted something different than what I had, I could choose differently. I didn’t know then that this was Biblical, and to be honest, I probably couldn’t have explained the concept of choices, even though that’s what I was striving for. The most important choice I made was to accept Jesus as my own personal Savior and live according to the Word of God. This however, didn’t happen until I was 30.
Looking back, I see how many opportunities were presented to me, once I wanted to see them. I used to believe it was because of God’s grace and love for me, and I still believe that to a point. But I know that God is no respecter of persons and everyone receives as many opportunities to make change in their own lives as I do. I’ve only risen above the circumstances my family continues to live in, because I started choosing the things that would produce or lead to life, rather than the things that produce or lead to death. The opportunities are there for all of us, however we have to not just say we want better, but decide we really want it enough to put action behind it, and that starts with choice.
Because of my own personal history, I am passionate about the power, and responsibility, of choice. And it’s easy for me to get frustrated with others who consistently make poor choices, but then complain about where they are in life. In fact, I have to admit that I really have no patience or mercy for those who don’t accept personal responsibility for the choices they make. We cannot choose what happens to us in life, but we can choose how we handle these things and we can choose to learn from them. This is not to say that I always make the right choice (because I don’t) or that I’m totally where I want to be (because I’m not), but I do make an effort to choose life and fortunately, I hit the target more than I miss. I’ve definately made my fair share of mistakes and some of them have been real doozies, but I press on.
The good news is God’s mercy is new every day. We can start fresh every day. It matters not where we start, but rather where we finish. God wants us to have a good life with blessings, rather than a dismal life with curses. And He has provided that for us, but we have to be active participants in this, by choosing life every day. And when we mess up and make the wrong choice, we need to then admit it and take responsibility for our choice, correct in any way we can and move on. Mistakes don’t defeat us unless we allow them too. We can fall down by staying down when we stumble, or we can fall up by rising each time we fall. We can allow adversity to keep us down and defeated or we can use it to propel us upward into victory. It’s our choice. Making the right choice is not always easy, but honestly the best things in life rarely are. In closing, I’d like to leave you today with this:
Attitude leads to thoughts. Thoughts lead to words. Words lead to actions. Actions lead to habits. Habits lead to character. Character leads to destiny.
“This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” ~ Deut. 30:19
“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~ Jer. 29:11
6 hours ago