I Choose….

I love going into a fabric store. I could literally spend hours there. I especially love it when I am looking for specific fabric that I want to use in a quilt. In a good store there can be hundreds of fabrics to choose from. Making these choices brings out a feeling of creativity that just satisfies something within me.

Choice; it is good thing. It is good to have options … but the ability to choose does not necessarily result in joy. Because, it can also be anxiety producing. When our son was about 6 he was given $1.00 to spend. Kevin soon found himself caught up in a real dilemma because there were too many choices and he just could not make up his mind.  He left that store empty handed (we did have to go back and he finally was able to make a choice. For many, like Kevin, there is the concern that the wrong choice will be made. Fear of making the wrong choice is very real in this day and age particularly as  there are so many competing voices telling us what we should do and what we should want.

Joshua confronted this head on: “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.” (Joshua 24:24)  In this passage of Joshua, verses 14-24, we find that Joshua  was direct and forthright in his challenge to the people. Their response was one that should have pleased his heart. But he understood that ‘lip service’ in the moment or going along with the crowd is easy — so he further challenged them: “You are not able to serve the Lord.” He wanted them to fully understand the ramifications of their decision, their choice.

Whether large or small, our choices have consequences that we often cannot foresee. In our first appointment I left the office to run a quick errand at a local strip mall.  I made a wrong turn and soon realized that I was in Wendy’s neighborhood.  Wendy was a Women’s Ministry member who I realized had not attended for a couple of weeks.  Since I was already in her neighborhood I decided to drop by for a visit.  As I pulled up to her house there was a small moving van at the curb. As I walked up the drive I found Wendy just inside the garage.  As soon as she saw me she came into my arms and begin to tell me that her husband was leaving her. I’ve often thought about that day and wondered at a wrong turn and a simple decision to make an impromptu visit. The ramifications of the choice I made that day resulted in consequences that I could never have foreseen. But the Spirit nudged me and pushed me until I was going in the right direction—till I made the right choice. O, Lord, keep me sensitive to Your presence and keep my ear attuned to Your voice, so that when confronted with even a simple choice, I will choose rightly.

I leave you with the following reading from Max Lucado, When God Whispers Your Name. 

“As each day begins we are confronted with choices; there will be decisions that need to be made, deadlines that need to be met; and the calm solitude of the morning will be replaced by the pounding pace of the day.

For the next few hours we will be exposed to the day’s demands. It is now that choices need to be made. Because of Calvary, I am free to choose. And so I choose.

I Choose Love….

No occasion justifies hatred; no injustice warrants bitterness. I choose love. Today I will love God and what God loves.

I Choose Joy…

I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance. I will refuse the temptation to be cynical…the tool of the lazy thinker. I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.

I Choose Peace…

I will live forgiven. I will forgive so that I may live.

I Choose patience…

I will overlook the inconveniences of the world. Instead of cursing the one who takes my place, I’ll invite him to do so. Rather than complain that the wait is too long, I will thank God for a moment to pray. Instead of clinching my fist at new assignments, I will face them with joy and courage.

I Choose Kindness…

I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone. Kind to the rich, for they are afraid. And kind to the unkind, for such is how God has treated me.

I Choose Goodness…

I will go without a dollar before I take a dishonest one. I will be overlooked before I will boast. I will confess before I will accuse. I choose goodness.

I Choose faithfulness…

Today I will keep my promises. My debtors will not regret their trust. My associates will not question my word. My spouse will not question my love. And my children will never fear that I will not be there for them.

I Choose Gentleness…

Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice, my it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself.

I Choose Self-Control…

I am a spiritual being… After this body is dead, my spirit will soar. I refuse to let what will rot, rule the eternal. I choose self-control. I will be drunk only by joy. I will be impassioned only by my faith. I will be influenced only by God. I will be taught only by Christ. I choose self-control.

“To these I commit my day. If I succeed, I will give thanks. If I fail, I will seek his grace. And then, when this day is done, I will place my head on my pillow and rest.”

 

Autumn Reflections

Autumn is a gorgeous time of year. It is a time when nature surrounds us with vivid colors and the air becomes cool—tangy and crisp. Autumn is that time of year when fallen leaves dance wildly down the streets and people begin to shuffle along through crackling, crunching leaves as memories of childhood take over.

Autumn is just a beautiful breath-taking time of year when nature takes out her paintbrush and goes to work getting rid of the sameness of green. Along with its beauty autumn brings with it a sense of purpose that touches us all in different ways:

  • Children go back to school
  • Adults get busy reorganizing homes, work and their lives in general
  • Farmers are busy harvesting crops
  • Even wild creatures are busy preparing for the winter ahead

 

But autumn is also a time of reflection; a time to gain perspective and to think about and evaluate our lives and situations. But in so doing we must not neglect our inner selves. It is good to take the opportunity of the season to check our spiritual connectedness and condition. During these days of reflection I want to know, “how are my roots?” Are they deep and well nourished? Am I producing fruit? And most painful of all, what needs pruning away?

I remember when our son was graduating from college I decided to make him a scrapbook of his school pictures, activities, and report cards. In the process I discovered that a photo album is like a magic carpet ride into the realm of memory. Like leaves of October tinted with the red and gold colors of autumn, snapshots are colored with the rich pastels of previous events and people. Saturday Review editor Norman Cousins writes this in his book, Human Options:

“A man (woman) comes to know himself through the pictures he takes … in … reviewing the hundreds of pictures I have taken … in many parts of the world … I learn … the camera is more than a box that records an external situation … it is also turned inwards.”

I discovered the truth of that statement as I recognized that I was not the same person that I was in many of the photos that I was gathering for David. (We won’t talk about age or weight…..) But more importantly, I was not the same spiritually. Thank you, Lord, I have grown, blossomed, and have endured the hard times of pruning.In the harvesting season we tend to be more impressed with the fruit of the harvest. Not so God. He cares about more than just the end result—He’s watching over the roots. We like the product but God emphasizes the process. It is the Spirit Who plants right seeds and nurtures them. In due course, in His time, “fruit” appears.

Remember: “God Who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in His grace until His work within you is finally finished.” (Phil. 1:6, TLB)

This promise is at the root of God’s purpose for us, it’s a guarantee that the One who started “the good work within you” won’t leave the task unfinished. We can continue to grow and flourish—and be pruned—in the sure knowledge that God will never fail us. For you see, while we may be in the autumn season we know that there are other seasons in which to live that help us to fulfill the promise that we can live life abundantly.

The rich variety of seasons is an example of how the Lord uses time to work out His purposes in our lives. Ruth Thomas expresses it best in her poem, “The Untried Way” when she writes:

“The same Yesterday – the God behind me, the God of the ages

The same Today, the God beside me, with His guiding hand

The same Forever – the God before me in the dim, unknown future.

Theologian Helmut Thielicke expresses his trust in God of seasons when he writes, “It is true that I do not know what is coming, but I know who is coming. Therefore, I can drain the moment in which I live, laughing and weeping … with the face of God shining on me … we can catch a fleeting glimpse of the magnitude of the future by the down payment we have already received.”

As autumn continues to progress expect your roots to deepen and grow. Reflect on the Lord and as He makes you aware of His creation, through the vivid colors and the bare trees of this season, remember God is at work. He is working with you and in you to bring out the beauty of your life.

 

 

Choices

Thus, and not otherwise, the world was made. Either something or nothing must depend on individual choices.

C.S. Lewis

It must be a function of age but it seems that I am more and more intrigued by how the choices we make affect our lives. Even seemingly small choices can make a big difference. For example, you finally decide to clean out a closet and come across an old picture that looks like a Picasso but you know it could only be a knock-off (what would a Picasso be doing in a Salvation Army closet?). But just to be sure you have it evaluated and while Sotheby’s cannot determine for sure that it is an authentic Picasso, they tell us that the picture is worth thousands. What would have happened if I had simply just thrown it away? Nothing — except we would have been out a few thousand dollars.

The reality is that no matter what the situation, you always have a choice and the choice you make always makes a difference, whether or not we see it or even understand it.

In the film “Whose Life Is It Anyway?” Richard Dreyfuss played the part of a young artist who was paralyzed from the neck down in an automobile accident. The doctors told him he would never paint or sculpt again. He would never leave his bed under his own power. Nor was he ever likely to marry. With that future before him, the young man decided he no longer wanted to live. Death seemed to him to be the best option. The rest of the film detailed his fight to force the doctors to let him die.

Now contrast that fictional situation with the true story of Joni Eareckson Tada. At 17 she was paralyzed from the neck down in a diving accident, and faced a helpless existence as a quadriplegic. She was told she would never feed herself, never drive a car, and most likely never marry. She too wanted to die, and would have committed suicide if she had been able. However, when confronted with the Gospel, Joni chose to follow Christ and to let God bring joy and healing to her life. Now God never “healed” Joni in the traditional sense of the word, but she now paints by holding a brush in her teeth, speaks to audiences across the country, drives a specially equipped van and is married. What could have been the end of her life was only a new beginning.

Now granted we are seldom called upon to make drastic choices such as this. But we do make choices daily that affect our lives in a multitude of ways.

  • If someone is rude to you–are you rude back?
  • If someone hurts you–do you try to get even?
  • Are you quick to judge?
  • When faced with a problem, do you look for quick easy answers?
  • How faithful are you in fulfilling responsibilities?
  • What about your daily time alone with the Lord, reading His Word and praying?

How we choose to respond in any given situation reflects on the outside what is happening on the inside.

Almighty God, You have promised strength for the work of this day, power to handle the pressures, light for the way, patience in problems, help from above, unfading courage, and undying love. In the stresses and strains of living, often I sense my wells have run dry. Life has a way of de-powering me, depleting my resiliency, and draining my patience. People can get me down and perplexities stir me up.

Lord, I pray for a fresh flow of your strength—strength to think clearly, serve creatively, and endure consistently; strength to fill up diminished human resources; silent strength that flows from Your limitless source, quietly filling them with artesian power.

You never ask me to do more than You will provide the strength to accomplish. So make me a riverbed for the flow of Your creative Spirit. Fill this day with serendipities, unexpected surprises of Your grace. Be Lord of every conversation, the unseen guest at every meeting and the guide of every decision. In the name of Him who is the way, the truth and the life.

Amen.

(author unknown)