(August 7, 2018) Robert and Maureen McQuillan ask a question that leads to a serious challenge…
It’s a simple question really: What does the word ‘choice’ mean, either in a dictionary or in the Bible? Well, it’s an act of choosing between two or more possibilities.
The reality of life is that every day we make choices. We have to! Begins each new morning… arising from slumber, deciding what to wear, what to have for brekkie. And that’s before we hit the street!
One thing is for certain… every day decisions have to be made in respect of our job, marriage, family, holidays, movie to see, TV program to watch, the home, purchases, clothing, meals… then along comes new car or home. The list goes on!
In reality very day we’ll all be making choices, hopefully good ones!
Let’s share a choice that I (Robert) made recently that proved a bad one… although there was a funny side to it!
‘A funny thing happened on the way to the carpark…’
That farcical phrase, deriving from a line originally used by vaudeville comedians to begin a story, ‘A funny thing happened on the way to the theatre…’ –– has been reworked many times, especially in the1962 musical, A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum.
Here’s my rework… I had left Maureen in the carpark while I quickly went to a particular store to return something. But I got caught up with someone and time got away. Thinking of how I could get back quicker to Maureen than the way I’d come, I decided – eg made a choice between two possibilities – that it would be speedier if I cut through a liquor store with an exit to the carpark.
Although moving quickly I paused when some distinctively created bottles caught my eye. Nevertheless I soon reached the checkout near the exit. Suddenly a young attendant moved toward me and asked, ‘Get everything you wanted today, mate?’
Presuming he was being courteous, even though not smiling, I casually responded, ‘No, you don’t have what I want.’ What he said next didn’t fully dawn on me for a few seconds: ‘Good. Don’t come back. We’re onto you, you’ve already been warned not that you’re not welcome here!’
I stopped abruptly as I fully twigged what he was inferring. I had been pegged as a suspicious individual! Rather puzzled, indeed shocked, I mumbled, ‘What?’
Now this particular day I wasn’t wearing my Mafioso fedora (as above with Maureen) but one of my dark James Cagney gangster hats, dark clothing, dark shades… perhaps I did look suspicious!
He repeated himself as customers gathered around, adding: ‘We’ve had our eye on you for some time. Don’t come back here!’ I was now feeling taken aback and embarrassed!
‘You’ve made a mistake’ I retorted, removing my shades and pushing my hat back ‘You obviously don’t know who I am!’ Now I didn’t swing a Cagney punch but suddenly he was thrown; totally embarrassed as he realised he’d mistaken me for someone else! To use an old saying… ‘He was now over me, couldn’t do enough to console me.’ I just laughed and said that I was merely passing through to the carpark… and moved on.
‘What kept you?’ asked a concerned Maureen when I finally got back to the car. My smiling response? ‘Actually a funny thing happened on the way to the…’
The point? I’d made a choice, although funnily it had been a wrong one!
Choices… even God makes them
God’s holy word mentions choice – the act of choosing – many times. Whichever Old or New Testament word is used, it indicates making a selection. Everyone makes choices – scripture even records God making many, among them…
- Abraham – his chosen one (Genesis 18:19) to be his friend (2Chronicles 20:7)
- Israel – the nation he chose as his treasured possession (Deuteronomy 14:2)
- Jerusalem – where he chose his name to be worshipped (2 Chronicles 6:6)
- Jesus – his beloved Son, the one he chose be listened to (Luke 9:35).
And Jesus too made choices…
- In Luke 6:13 we read an important choice Jesus made (after praying all night)… ‘When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them…’
- Jesus affirmed this in John15:16, ‘You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you…’
- In becoming our Saviour on Calvary’s cross, Jesus went through torture and shame… yet Hebrews 11:25 tells us that ‘He chose to be mistreated…’!
- Humankind was not worth saving, forgiven of sins and made new born children of God! Yet James 2:5 tells us that holding no grudges Jesus ‘… chose the world’s down-and-out as the kingdom’s first citizens, with full rights and privileges.’
Check out your concordance (book or laptop) for more choices made by the Godhead – and especially those that Christians should make.
Scripture is emphatic when it challenges us to make choices openly before God… good choices!
Take, for example: Deuteronomy 30:19Message, ‘I place before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life so that you and your children will live.’ The NIV is quite strong here: ‘Now choose life.’
Matthew 5:29Mge challenges: ‘You have to choose to live one-eyed or else be dumped on a moral trash pile.’ ‘One-eyed’ means limited vision. Bit like being myopic… tunnel vision, people including Christians, unable to realise that their actions might have negative consequences.
Scripture is talking about real life here, a blessed better life here on earth backed by the promises of a caring, loving Father God, one that is ours when we genuinely repent of sin and accept Jesus as Saviour, one that leads to eternity.
Such choices are no-brainers! We can have a fantastic life through Jesus who became our Saviour, high priest and friend.
We’ve already mentioned that we have to make choices every day… the option is to make right choices, good ones – else we make bad ones, wrong ones, with negative consequences.
It’s not our intention to write heaps of paragraphs with catchy subheadings, so many scriptures and astoundingly good advice on different kinds of choices we have to make… we would simply encourage all our readers to trust God every new day – whatever may arise.
And please note this… we’re not being super-spiritually myopic! We’re aware that many Christians do trust the Lord yet are going through problems… but, praise God, they are going through them!
Without going into detail about ourselves, our situations, let’s just say that we’re human too: we understand! The answer, the miracle, the result we need too need simply hasn’t arrived yet.
The Holy Spirit is our great comforter (John 14:16, 26) and Jesus said he’s our friend, that we’re not alone (‘I shall ask the Father to give you someone else to stand by you, to be with you always’ John 14:18 Phillips). We can trust him as we ask in prayer for good directions. In fact heavenly guidance comes like a welcome whisper to the heart. Our response is obedience to the Lord’s will, his direction, knowing he wants us to experience the best.
No wonder that in Galatians 5:18Mge, Paul asks: ‘Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit?’
We’re encouraging all of us to make right choices with the Lord’s help – and with an assurance within that he wants the best for us. Such as his promises in Deuteronomy 30 to all who make right choices… compassion, mercy, closeness of God, lost fortunes restored, prosperity, success, children, God’s wrath on our enemies, more of God’s goodness, a real life… the list goes on! All from a good, and loving God!
Making good choices mean being responsible
Making wrong choices goes back to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
Guys – don’t dump all the world’s troubles on Eve… Adam obviously wasn’t being responsible!
- Their wrong choice was disobeying God and eating from a certain forbidden tree – disobedience of God’s laws is sin (Romans 1:25).
- Because of this irresponsibility sadly they were cast out of paradise. And unfortunately sin had entered the world – everyone is now guilty of sinning (Romans 3:23). Disobedience of God’s laws, indeed ignorance of them, has led to so much trouble over the centuries.
All that God wanted back in Eden was to connect with his creation, thankful children discovering life and the world around. And, like any good father, wisely to lead them into all he had in store for them, trusting they’d make right choices.
God still wants to connect! Washed in the blood of Jesus, Christians are free in Jesus (John 8:36) to make right choices and connect with our loving heavenly Father and benefit from his love and blessings.
But let’s remember that God has always given his creation the freedom to make choices! These include honouring him, loving him and one another, gathering together to worship him, praying to him and boldly engaging in whatever ministry he requires of us.
We began with Robert’s real-life incident of a bad choice. Let’s finish with a Paradise-type one… years ago when in the US we visited Longwood Gardens, PA. This huge Paradise-like garden over 1077 acres property comprises the most magnificent gardens we’ve ever been too. One needs hours, even a day, to fully view. 4,600 different types of plants and trees including some from Oz, as well as fountains and several conservatories.
What a pleasant day we spent in that paradise! We felt so blessed! But note… we obeyed all the signs wherever we moved – such as the big one near the entrance: ‘Poisonous Plant, Deadly. Do not Touch!’ (not this graphic but a very clear warning).
Good choice advice to us, but guess what?
Yeah, several people just couldn’t resist leaning over to touch and even feel the beautiful tall plant before them! Result? We shuddered to think! Again… choices, but bad choices.
Oh we could tell of many right choices we and others have made over the years as we’ve allowed ourselves to be led by the Spirit… but our desire is this short article is to remind Christians that whatever choices we have to make, we will experience the peace, joy and satisfaction of making right choices before God!
Here’s a last graphic… one that’s straight to the point whatever we’re going through! Remember our opening definition of choice – an act of choosing between two or more possibilities.
Trusting God, and led by the Spirit, we can make good ones! It’s like a Paradise-found!
Dr Robert and Maureen McQuillan have made a major choice and have taken their latest leading from the Holy Spirit. They will be moving back to Melbourne mid-October, entering into the next stage of their ministry despite being supposedly retired(!). This onliner will continue, as will their general ministry of preaching, counselling and mentoring.
(Scripture and other emphases ours). Relating links: Brian Bell’s article here