Choices. We make them everyday. Small ones, like what we will eat or wear or do. We make big ones, such as who we will marry, where we will work, and what values we will stand by. Every choice brings about a denying of another choice. If we choose choice A, then we deny choices B-Z. Every choice matters, but there are some choices that carry more weight behind them, such as what we will do with Jesus.
Jesus is an all or nothing God. He calls us to choose Him and deny everything and everyone else. He calls us to Himself, and then we stand there with a choice. A choice to choose Him. A choice to die to ourselves and find new life and purpose in Jesus.
We see this choice presented throughout the Bible. Jesus invited the disciples to drop their nets and become fishers of men. He invited Peter to step out of the boat in the midst of the storm. He invited the prostitute to go and sin no more. He invited them, but He also invites us.
What will we do with the invitation? Even though choices are innate to our human nature, we struggle with choices. We struggle to make the right choice, and a lot of times we choose the latter. We settle for the comfortable, and the ordinary. We choose what is familiar and safe, instead of risking all for life.
We see this in the choice that faced the rich young ruler. Choose Jesus, or choose His money. And he went away saddened because he loved his money. We see Cain faced with the choice of what to do with his anger and jealousy of Abel, and he chose to murder him. And on and on and on the story of the wrong choices goes.
As common as wrong choices are, we also see the bravery of those whose hearts were softened enough to make choices that would please Jesus. Choices that were willing to risk all for love and life and freedom. The choice such as the woman with internal bleeding that CHOSE to believe that Jesus could heal her, and ran through the crowd to touch his robe. The faith of Peter that CHOSE to get out of the boat and to trust Jesus with his life in the midst of a raging sea. The faith of the friends who lowered their paralyzed friend through the roof of a crowded house because they CHOSE to believe that Jesus was who He said He was.
We live in a world of choices. Our choices matter. They not only affect us, but they also impact others and the world around us, either for good or bad. Nothing brings this reality of the importance of choices home more than a sudden tragedy.
Last Wednesday evening, I received a phone call from a former roommate of mine with some unsettling news. He called to tell me that my old roommate of two years had snapped that morning while having an argument with his girlfriend, and ended up shooting and killing her, and then killing himself.
This choice has impacted hundreds. Hundreds of family members, friends, neighbors, as well as the community. It has shaken two families to their core, and left a little seven year girl without a mother.
How did this happen?
Well, choices were made.
This just didn’t happen overnight. It built up and built up and built up overtime until the consequences of all his small choices came to a head and he snapped.
We all are faced with these same small choices everyday. Choices to choose good. To be thankful. To reach out. To love. To care and to serve. To seek Jesus and to seek freedom.
When we don’t choose these, we choose darkness by default. And darkness consumes us and leaves us broken and alone. It is never worth what we gave up to make that choice.
This brings me to my next point.
Do our past choices define us?
Thank goodness no. There is grace in our screw ups.
After Peter denied Jesus three times, Peter wept and returned to his fishing. He had messed up, and so he went back to who he was before Jesus came along.
What did Jesus do?
He rose from the dead, and he went back to his disciples, especially to Peter. Over a morning breakfast, Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?” Peter replied three times, “Yes Lord. You know I love you.” To which Jesus responded “Then feed my sheep.”
Our wrong and broken choices do not shock or frighten Jesus. He meets us in the midst of our brokenness with grace. “I still love you son and daughter. Do you still love me?” He also meets us with purpose. “Then feed my sheep.”
The biggest lie that the devil tells us is that we don’t have a choice. That because we born a certain way, or experienced hurt and pain in our past, that this thing defines us still today. And some of us believe this lie everyday.
We walk around defeated because we believe there is no hope for true change. That even if we sniff freedom then that freedom and life will not last and that we will fall back into old patterns of behaviors.
Stop believing the lie! You are not defined by your past mistakes, hurts, and disappointments. Today can be a new day of new choices that can totally change the course of your life.
It’s similar to a football player that tears their ACL in their knee. They literally have to start over. Their knee has to be reconstructed. It is a huge blow to their career.
Now in that moment, they have a choice. He can sit there and grieve the end of his career, or he can fight to get back and come back stronger.
He knows in the back of his head that he has a painful, tasking, and overwhelming journey ahead, but if he truly loves the game, he will fight to get back. So he works. Baby steps at first. Hours and hours and hours. He goes through therapy. He grunts and screams. It’s painful, but it’s leading somewhere.
Little by little, he goes from limping to walking. Then from walking to jogging, and then from jogging to running, and then from running to sprinting. He practices without pads, but then moves to pads, and then from practice to the sideline, and from the sideline to the field.
And even though it was painful and horrendous and consuming, the love of the game drove him to get back onto the field. It was all worth it!
So many Christians today walk around today like wounded like the football player. We think about the “glory days” when we used to wreak havoc on opposing defenses. When we used to be on fire for Jesus, and impacting others lives. But then life hit. Our past came back. And we returned to what we knew. And it made us miserable to return, but what else were we supposed to do? We didn’t believe anymore that we could come back, and that even if we came back stronger, we’d tear our proverbial spiritual ACL again and fail. We were comfortable in our miserableness because we didn’t believe that life was within our grasp. We had messed up our chance over and over again.
The good news of the gospel is this: Jesus died so we didn’t have to be perfect. He lived the perfect life, so He doesn’t ask or expect us to be perfect! He just expects us to get off the table of our woundedness and strive with all our being to choose Him. To strive to love. To strive to pursue and hunt the good, all the while knowing that our good behavior does not define us, but the reality is that His love does!
So will you? Will you risk everything? Will you get off the table of your woundedness and pity and fight for life, joy, and peace? Jesus has invited you to join him as you are. Choose Him. It will be the best choice you will ever make!
Picture taken from: https://www.google.com/search?q=choices&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiotJ2SuczdAhXErVMKHdgsBCgQ_AUIDygC&biw=1440&bih=758#imgrc=zsAzWEAQK_6XdM: