My mind has been replaying this sentence over and over this week: “You get to choose.” We make choices ALL DAY LONG. Before our day even begins, we have a choice of how we are going to start the day. Are we going to go to bed on time or stay up later than we should? Are we going to set our clothes out and get organized for the next day or are we going to wing it? Are we going to get up with our alarm or hit the snooze button?
Dr. Joel Hoomens from Roberts Weslyan College says that the average adult makes 35,000 decisions PER DAY. Here is an excerpt from his article on choices:
“Various internet sources estimate that an adult makes about 35,000 remotely conscious decisions each day [in contrast a child makes about 3,000] (Sahakian & Labuzetta, 2013). This number may sound absurd, but in fact, we make 226.7 decisions each day on just food alone according to researchers at Cornell University (Wansink and Sobal, 2007). As your level of responsibility increases, so does the smorgasbord of choices you are faced with.
You and I have been given a free-will and a multitude of choices in life about:
- what to eat
- what to wear
- what to purchase
- what we believe
- what jobs and career choices we will pursue
- how we vote
- who to spend our time with
- who we will date and marry
- what we say and how we say it
- whether or not we would like to have children
- what we will name our children
- who our children spend their time with
- what they will eat, etc.
Each choice carries certain consequences – good and bad. This ability to choose is an incredible and exciting power that we have each been entrusted with by our Creator and for which we have an obligation to be good stewards of.”
Not to be completely patronizing, but there are healthy/good choices and unhealthy/bad choices. One choice quickly leads us down a path to a bunch of other choices. For example, when my husband and I have a disagreement, we have a lot of choices to make. We are both opinionated and strong-willed so we have disagreements, but we work really hard to stay on the same team. Here are a few of the choices we have to make: Are we going to think and pray before we respond? Are we going to bring up past issues? Are we going to argue in front of our kids? Are we going to go to bed without settling things?
Let’s say we make a healthy choice. We have a calm, reasonable conversation and explain our perspectives. Then we have a whole list of other choices to make: Are we going to really listen or just wait for our turn to talk? Are we going to imagine how we made the other person feel? Are we going to forgive each other? We can even make a “right” choice but do so with a bad attitude. Here’s the point: we make a TON of decisions everyday. This is just one interaction with one person (not to mention all of the other people we encounter in a day) and look at how many choices we had to make.
“Our lives are a sum total of the choices we have made.” Wayne Dyer
The quote above perfectly sums up what I am learning. When life throws us a curve ball, no one else gets to determine how we respond. It is up to us. Out of God’s love for us, He created us as beings that have free-will and choice. He lets us make choices and He lets us deal with the consequences of our choices. God could have made us love Him but that love wouldn’t have been genuine – it would have been forced. He gave us the authority to choose.
“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,” (Deuteronomy 30:19 NKJV).
“And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” (Joshua 24:15 ESV).
“By faith, Moses, when grown, refused the privileges of the Egyptian royal house. He chose a hard life with God’s people rather than an opportunistic soft life of sin with the oppressors. He valued suffering in the Messiah’s camp far greater than Egyptian wealth because he was looking ahead, anticipating the payoff,” (Hebrews 11:24-26 MSG).
Choosing whether or not to be in relationship with Jesus is the most important choice you will make in your life. Saying “yes” leads to a whole eternity of wonderful consequences. Saying “no” is the exact opposite. You are more powerful than you think. Control or surrender? Life or death? Free or bound? You get to choose.
We are not even aware of most of the decisions we make throughout the day. They become second nature to us and we respond to situations with what we have programmed ourselves to do. I want our programming to be healthy and lead us to God’s best for us. That takes intention and work on our part. Dr. Caroline Leaf says that it takes 21 days to break a bad habit and another 42 days to establish a new healthy habit. Our church is doing a 21 day fast, which is a perfect time to for me to break some bad patterns and choose better.
If you know that your choices have been less than stellar, here’s what the Bible has to say about retraining yourself and walking in wisdom:
“My child, will you treasure my wisdom? Then, and only then, will you acquire it. And only if you accept my advice and hide it within will you succeed. So train your heart to listen when I speak and open your spirit wide to expand your discernment— then pass it on to your sons and daughters. Yes, cry out for comprehension and intercede for insight. For if you keep seeking it like a man would seek for sterling silver, searching in hidden places for cherished treasure, then you will discover the fear of the Lord and find the true knowledge of God,” (Proverbs 2:1-5 TPT).
That passage has a lot of action steps (choices) to it. Here are the steps broken down:
- Treasure God’s wisdom (word).
- Accept God’s advice.
- Hide God’s advice within (your heart).
- Train your heart to listen to God’s voice.
- Open your spirit wide to expand your discernment.
- Pass it on to your sons and daughters.
- Cry out for comprehension.
- Intercede for insight.
- Seek insight like a man seeks silver.
- Search for insight in hidden places like cherished treasure.
- Discover the fear of the Lord.
- Find the true knowledge of God.
I met with two, 20 year-old girls separately this week who both felt like they missed their callings, and were too late to experience God’s best in their lives. I couldn’t believe that they both said that (not to mention the fact that they are 20 and feel like their best days are behind them). What a trick of the enemy. Yes, we make choices. No, not all of them are correct, but God is gracious and His word is true. He has plans for us, even when we mess it all up. Our job is to try our best to do the steps listed above and then trust Him with the rest. He can turn even our worst decisions around and make something beautiful.
This blog is called Choosing Trust because that has been a theme in my life. Am I going to trust Him or go my own way? I may not make the correct choice every time but I truly believe His way is better than mine. He has come through for me over and over again. He will come through for you too.
When we get to the end of our lives, we will stand before God and give account for the sum of our choices. The goal is to hear God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” (Matthew 25:23). So, how do we measure our lives? We measure it by God’s faithfulness and our choices. Did we hide out of fear or step out in faith? Did we obey God or respond in our flesh? Did we wait on God’s timing or try to run out ahead of Him? Did we trust Him or let our feelings determine our opinion of His character? Did we let pain define us or did we forgive, heal, and move on?
Let’s choose well.