How do you choose?

Wednesday, May 09, 2012
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” (Psalm 32:8)

We all make choices in life. It would seem strange to live on planet earth without making them, because at every step of the way there are decisions we must take among multiple choices in order to move forward. Don’t even try to run away from them.

We choose what course of study to undertake; we select the institution to pursue our studies in; in what part of town to reside; the kind of food we eat; the kind of company we keep; the kind of house to build; the style and colour of dresses or clothes we wear, the fabrics also. We choose our life partners from a long list of probables; the brand and colour of the car to buy. Even for the minutest detail, we are guided by the choices we make.

In the course of our earthly journey, we would have many choices to make. We may hesitate, take our time or even refuse to choose, the end result is that we would have made a choice willy-nilly. The only instance we are unable to make choices is with regard to who our parents should be and what part of the globe they should come from. Otherwise, no matter how hard we may try, choices we will definitely make.

Most of our choices will end up with a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ – going one way or the other, being for or against. We either like something or we hate it, go for it or refrain from it. It has been like this since the beginning - in the Garden of Eden where God had placed our great, great ancestors.

God wants us to make choices. He told Adam and Eve after He had put them in the Garden of Eden: “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:15-17) God did not twist the hands of Adam and Eve or cajole them into obeying; rather He made it crystal clear that the responsibility lay squarely upon their shoulders. That put them in a position to choose rightly or wrongly. Whichever way they had decided to choose, the consequences they would have to face. This process may seem rather unfair by our judgment, but it definitely helps one to grow up and live up to one’s responsibilities. We must always make the right choices, and not just jump into a decision without weighing the odds.

The Lord has never and will never oblige someone to abide by His commandments. Instead, He proffers advice and expects us to use the wisdom and intelligence He has given us to operate. That was the advice given by the prophet Moses to the Children of Israel: “See I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse – the blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.” (Deuteronomy 11:26-28)In Old Testament times, the chosen people of God Jehovah were fond of worshiping foreign gods; worst still, they bowed down to those of the nations God had given them victory over. God had warned them against idolatry (the worship of idols) but that did not seem to go down well with them.

But God does offer a second chance, and would not stop at a single warning or advice – in His capacity as a God of patience. So He repeated His warning. “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, the blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him.” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20) The options are stated clearly here. God is asking us to make a wise choice and a sound decision between life and death.

The choice, come to think of it, may seem clear; choosing life may seem the natural thing to do. Most people who opt for life probably end up opting for death by the things they indulge in knowingly or unknowingly. Some people take delight in what would literally snuff the life out of them; yes, kill them. When we look closely, we are enticed by the agents of death rather than the agents that give life. Take a close look around you and make a deliberate choice of opting to live.

Mary, the sister of Martha, had an important decision to make on the occasion of the Lord Jesus’ visit with His disciples to their home. It was a crucial decision that would influence their relationship until after His resurrection. It all started with Mary’s choice to spend some time at Jesus’ feet, listening to Him. Not that seeking to provide the Lord with something to eat or drink was not important; far be it.

Very rarely did our Lord Jesus during His ministry have time to Himself. On this unique occasion however there were no crowds thronging Him. For Mary, work in the kitchen can wait. The Word from the Master was a life-saving and eternal medication that she could not afford to miss - never mind her sister’s railings. She had rather be fed on the Word than on natural food. No wonder the Lord said: “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”(Luke 10:41)

Our Lord Jesus sided with Mary on the basis of the choice she had made. The best choice you and I can make would be to stay at Jesus’ feet to learn from Him. He is an All-Sufficient God – omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. Nothing is hidden from Him. When we take refuge in Him there is no choice that He will not help us make.

Making choices can be tricky; no wonder in everyday parlance we hear of ‘informed choices.’ Who is better informed than the shepherd of the sheep. It is the nature of sheep to stay under the watchful eye of the shepherd. They are not prone to making choices except when they go astray and it is very often to their detriment.

The more we become totally dependent on our Lord Jesus, the more likely we are to make the right choices. Speaking through the psalmist God is saying: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” (Psalm 32:8)

Author: Galandou Gorre-Ndiaye