On Thursday (January 1st), Cindy and I went to the movies with her parents to see the new film "Slumdog Millionaire". I know, I had never heard of it either, but Cindy and her mother were dying to see this new film so we took them. The movie is about a boy in India that makes it on their version of "Who wants to be a Millionaire" the game show. As they ask him the myriad of questions from every discipline, he knows each answer from life situations he was put in growing up in the slums of India. He had no schooling, no formal teaching, but had attended the "school of hard knocks" and had picked up a few things along the way. It was a really good movie actually, surprising me, but you'll have to go see it for yourself to see what all happens. The reason I brought it up though is that it brought out a really incredible depiction of how everything in our lives comes down the our choices.....
"Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, that you and your descendants might live! Choose to love the LORD your God and to obey him and commit yourself to him, for he is your life. Then you will live long in the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)
One day back in the fall I was driving a patient (now good friend) of mine over to Dallas to see another doctor there. He did not have the means to go and he needed the evaluation and so I drove him myself. As we drove there and back and talked the entire way about our lives and what God had done in and through us and what He was currently doing.....we were both really shocked and amazed at where our choices had brought us. At any one point along our lives and along our paths, we could have made a different choice and everything would've turned out so differently for us. It was the sum of our choices to this point that had brought us to that day and had brought us together to help heal him of the physical ailments he is dealing with (also dealing with choices!!).
Like in Deuteronomy, God offers us the choice every single day between "blessings and curses". That's why it is sooo vital that you are walking daily with Him and being still and listening to His sometimes barely audible voice to give you the direction you so desperately need in the decisions you are faced with every day that you wake up. Walking with God doesn't mean you will be perfect and never make a wrong decision or choose the wrong thing, but it does mean that more often than not you will know which choice will bring you God's blessings and which won't. This may be the biggest problem with the whole idea of God, the Holy Spirit, and the christian life.....the simplicity of it. I think (I know for alot of people I know) that for some, they want it to be much more complex and alot harder to figure out than just saying, "YES!" to Him every day and listening to a God who loves them unconditionally, with only one string attached: saying "Yes" to his Son and giving him lordship over your life. The other thing that is probably so hard is that choice to give up ALL of yourself and to give it ALL to Him so He can bless you and He can use you to spread His love to whomever He chooses.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths."
He wants ALL of our hearts and wants us to give him the reigns and the control of ALL of our ways and situations. But He doesn't force that on us!! Isn't that amazing!?!? The God of the entire universe, who spoke this world into being with a word, who parted the sea for the Israelites to walk across on dry land, who walked on the water to calm a raging storm, who turned water into wine to show his majesty and glory, who sent His Son to be an example for us and to be a sacrifice for all the sins we've committed or will commit, that same God gives me the option NOT to choose His will or to give Him all of me not because He is sadistic or doesn't care....but because He loves us too much to force us to follow Him! Wow!! I think it is so simple, but so absolutely perfect that it's impossible to fathom of our own strength and vision and we have to allow Him to touch our eyes and our hearts to see what He sees and feel what He feels. When you do that though, get ready....the emotions you feel are indescribable. The joy is unbelievable, but the pain is unbearable. I've never cried harder than when I asked God to show me what He feels when I touch people. The pain that people are going through as they choose to operate on their own wisdom (Prov 3:7), and the remorse they feel over choices they made in the past rocked my world.
I think even greater than the fact that God gives us the choice to follow Him or not with our daily decisions, is the fact that when we make the wrong choice.....He immediately forgives us and loves us anyway!!! This is not a license to choose poorly knowing He'll still be there because He knows our hearts, but rather a safely net to know that if we make a wrong step on this high wire act of life and we fall, He'll be there to catch us and restore us if we let Him.
So go check out the movie "Slumdog Millionaire" and see the picture of two brothers growing up under the same bad circumstances and same hardships, but each making different choices and how they turn out. It was a great parenting lesson for me. Really meditate on His word though and ask Him to show you clearly what your choices are....it's when you are closest to Him that your path is the clearest. He never stears us in the wrong direction, we just stop looking at His map!