“Choose you this day” (Joshua 24:15). “I have decided to follow Jesus.”
The human mind is a scavenger. It loves to pick at dead things, and will not leave road-kill alone.
You find yourself sleepless in the wee hours. Your mind roams around looking for something to dwell on. It settles on the wrong things: Someone who betrayed you, disappointed you, offended you, hurt you, mistreated you, failed you. You reflect on that person for a moment or two and realize this is no fun. It is upsetting you. This is no way to get back to sleep. You pray for them, telling God “I forgive them Lord; please do not hold this against them.” Bless them, Father.
Your mind then moves over to the other side of those road-kill memories. Now you find yourself conjuring up people whom you betrayed, those you disappointed, someone you offended, a person you hurt, some people whom you mistreated and failed. For the umpteenth time, you ask God to forgive you and you lie there praying for each of those people, that they will do well and not remember your sins and your failings. You think “Please God!” that they will not awaken in the night remembering the unkind thing you did or said so long ago. Bless them, Father.
And then, after a bit it dawns on you that if you are going to get back to sleep, you’re going to have to choose a better memory or a more pleasant subject to dwell on. You have to make a better choice.
Something we all do every day of our lives.
It’s not only when we’re trying to sleep that we make those same choices. We do this every day of our lives.
–Another driver tailgates you, then almost takes your bumper off as he roars around you and speeds to the next traffic light. You have a choice, whether to give him a piece of your mind, to do the same to him, or to forget it and try to drive safely. The better choice is just that: Remember your object is to arrive home safely and alive.
–Your credit card invoice arrives and that hotel booking service has overcharged you for the reservation. You canceled it and made the reservation directly with the hotel, but sure enough, there it is on your bill: The full two nights charge. The lady at the hotel assured you she can get it removed if they do charge you. But it’s a holiday week and she’s on vacation. So, now you have a choice: you can let this bother you the rest of the week, or you can lay it aside and deal with it when she returns to work. The worst thing you can do is let it eat at you. Don’t do it.
–It’s Christmas week and there are tins of sweets in the kitchen, a bowl of snicker bars on the counter, and the best ice cream ever in the fridge. Or, you can have some grapes or a banana. You get to choose; you have to choose.
–You knocked yourself out for someone, went way beyond the call of duty. And to date, there has been no ‘thank you’ from them. And you wonder what that is all about. But you can work yourself into a frenzy worrying about it or you can let it go. Your mind goes to our Lord’s counsel in Luke 17:10 and you say to yourself, “I am only an unworthy servant; I’ve just done my duty.” Servants do not get thanked. Help me, Lord.
We live with the choices we make.
Some choices are easy and some require super-human strength.
I recall Corrie ten Boom’s story of the time she was asked to forgive a Nazi death-camp guard whom she remembered from Ravensbruck, Hitler’s concentration camp where she spent years and watched her sister die. After the war, she was speaking all over Germany telling people that God forgives sins and we must repent. After one service, this man approached to ask for forgiveness. “I was at Ravensbruck, Fraulein ten Boom. I have been saved. God has forgiven me. But when I find someone who was at that camp, I ask them personally to forgive me. Fraulein, will you forgive me?”
Corrie ten Boom was stunned. The last time she saw that man, he was wearing the SS cap with the skull and crossbones and smirking at the naked women lined up before him. She recalled thinking of her sister Bitsy, “You are so thin; I can see all your ribs.” And now this man wants forgiveness! Does he think so easily he can say those words and it’s all in the past?
Corrie knew she had to forgive him. And she knew that forgiveness is an act of the will, not something she had to “feel” necessarily. So, by sheer determination, she forced her hand out of her pocket and reached out to shake his hand. “I do forgive you,” she said. Suddenly it was like a surge of electricity coursing through her body, from her hand into her extremities. “I forgive you with all my heart!” she cried.
Forgiveness is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Faith is a choice.
It’s up to you.
I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore, choose life, that both you and your descendants may live…. For He is your life… (Deuteronomy 31:19-20)
Eternal life is a choice. Whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:15)
You will have forever to live with the consequences of the choices you make today.