There is a tendency to divide the world into the “haves” and the “have-nots”. Some seem to live a charmed life: born into the right family, in the right society, with the right connections. Others have the deck stacked against them: born into poverty or abuse, growing up with fear and rejection. Some are taught that they have no choice, that life happens to them and there is nothing they can do about it. Others are taught that they don’t have to do anything or make any choices, that they have a right to expect others to do for them. We can’t expect everyone to get to the finish line at the same time when some have a huge head start while others are so handicapped, can we?
Well, that depends on which race we are running. God has His own goal and finish line for each person, starting with wherever they are right now. In His measurement, am I moving toward Him, or away from Him? Every day, pretty much every moment, I am presented with choices that can move me in either direction.
- Will I help someone, or hurt them?
- Will I try again, or give up?
- Will I work hard, or goof off?
- Will I study, or skip school?
- Will I live a healthy lifestyle, or abuse the body He gave me with drugs/alcohol/sex/food?
- Will I tell the truth, or lie?
- Will I trust God, or panic when problems arise?
- Will I forgive, or hold a grudge?
- Will I face the hard issue, or run away?
- Will I be patient, or snap in frustration?
- Will I be kind and gentle, or gossipy or rude?
- Will I respect others, or put myself first?
Small and large versions of these kinds of decisions build up to an entire life. Some are easier than others. Some are easy for one person, but difficult for another. None of us will get it right every time. But God knows our hearts, (1 Samuel 16:7b), and knows what circumstances we are facing. He understands (Psalm 103:13-14), but He still holds us accountable for what we do with what we have. Check out the “Parable of the Talents” in Matthew 25:14-30 and the warning to the stewards in Luke 12:42-48.
There is one decision that matters most of all, by far: Will I act as if my life is my own? Or will I acknowledge that I need God and depend on Jesus to reconcile me with Him? On this point, we all start at the same level. It doesn’t matter if I grew up in a Christian home and have been taught the Bible; what have I chosen for myself? It doesn’t matter if I am learning about Jesus for the first time today; what am I choosing now that I know of Him? It doesn’t even matter if I grew up in the wilderness and never heard of Jesus: His creation shows that He exists (Romans 1:20) and His image is still built into me (Genesis 1:26-27); what am I choosing to do with the light that I can gain from that? God knows my heart (Romans 2:14-16) and will honor my soul’s choice.
Any of my choices, especially my choice of whether or not to accept Jesus, has consequences. Choosing one fork in the road leads toward one destination, and prevents me from heading toward the other. Even choosing to stand still, to avoid the decision, has consequences. (It’s kind of hard to get to any destination that way!) As I navigate the intersections of my life, the journey is my own. No one else has the right to make my decisions for me; however, it’s also my responsibility to deal with the results of each turn I make.
No matter how many wrong turns, poor choices, and bad decisions we make, one thing still remains true for everyone: God created us; God loves us; Jesus died for us; and each of us is infinitely valuable to Him. He’s always there, waiting for us to turn back to Him. (Revelation 3:20)