Choices. We make them every day. Some choices are intentional, while others are not. If you do not have a work uniform, you choose what you are going to wear to work. Breakfast? Hmm. Cinnamon roll or whole wheat toast? Choices. Read my Bible or watch Fox News? Choices. You are tempted to share a “juicy” bit of gossip. To tell or be quiet? Choices.
I have been thinking about making choices all week. We all know there are some choices that are right or wrong; black or white. But I wonder if we give much thought to the consequences of our choices? Much (if not all) the decisions we make have consequences. Take that choice at breakfast. Nothing inherently wrong with eating ONE cinnamon roll but that choice can have consequences; weight gain. I cannot tell you how many of our friends look back on their ruined lives and regretted their wrong choice.
I think if we were to give more attention to the consequences of our choices; we would make wiser choices. In the spiritual realm, we are tempted to instant gratification but we do not think where it will lead us. Someone once said, “Sin will take you farther than you intended to go, cost you more than you expected to pay, and keep you there longer than you planned.”
I guess it’s human nature to think we are the exception to the rule. It won’t happen to me! I can handle it! I can walk away any time I want. Really? I cannot tell you how many of our friends look back on their ruined lives and regret that wrong choice. They never thought it would end this way.
I am reminded of all the choices that are recorded in God’s Word. Some were wise; others foolish. God wanted them recorded so we would make wise choices. Choices cannot be avoided; so choose wisely.
If someone from another planet were to visit planet earth and observe the behavior of the inhabitants, they would come to the conclusion that we are angry race! Every where we look we see anger or the consequences of someone’s anger.
- An Olympic athlete refuses to participate in the opening ceremony. Why? He is angry that HE was not chosen to carry the USA flag!
- Politicians refuse to stand during the State of the Union message. They are angry that THEIR candidate was elected and THEIR party is not in control.
- Road rage is a common occurrence on most highways. (And parking lots!)
For many people, anger is a default emotion. When someone embarrasses us, rarely do we feel embarrassment. Most of the time, that embarrassment also makes us angry! If you want to read a case study in anger, read the story of Samson in the Book of Judges. I do not have space to elaborate all the ‘incidents’ that caused Samson to be angry but in reality, almost everything that happened was his own fault. At any point, he could have backed off, even just a little. If he had taken a minute to cool off, maybe he could have turned things around.
If you are angry at those around you, where is your responsibility? I have often heard people say, “They make me so angry!” But the reality is we allow people to make us mad. We choose [sometimes unconsciously] to be angry. It is time to stop making excuses for our behavior and own our part. Ask forgiveness if you need to. And not just from God but from the people you may have hurt. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you.
We have all wondered at some point in our lives that if we had responded differently to a certain situation what would the outcome be? Choices can have tremendous results!
On September 11, 1777, an army of 12,500 British troops marched to the patriot city of Philadelphia, a detachment of green-clad marksmen hid in the woods. Suddenly a senior American officer rode into view. Captain Patrick Ferguson, reputed to be the finest shot in the British army, had his men creep forward to pick off any unsuspecting officers. But before the men were in place, Ferguson felt disgusted with the idea of ambush and ordered his men not to fire.
He shouted to the American officer, who was riding a bay horse. The American looked his way for a moment and turned to ride on. Ferguson called again, this time leveling his rifle toward the officer. The American glanced back before slowly riding away.
A day later, Ferguson learned that the American officer he let ride off was General George Washington. He could have easily shot Washington but thought it was not proper to shoot an “unoffending” individual in the back who was just doing his duty.
If Ferguson had taken aim and fired at the officer who turned his back and rode away, there is no telling how the American Revolution would have turned out. One decision could have changed history!
Several years ago, I worked for a Pest Control Company whose clientele consisted mostly of millionaires. One of our customers lived in a wooded area and was having problems with rats. We set out our traps and within a couple of days, we had three rats (dead.) This presented a slight problem. How do you dispose of three dead rats? We couldn’t just toss them in the woods or put them in their garbage can. We were in South Carolina and it was a very hot summer, so you can imagine the stench!
We solved the problem by putting the rats in an empty zip-lock bag that had contained a pest control product and placed them in the back of our pickup truck. The plan was to properly dispose of them at the end of the day.
We finished our day and was headed to the office when we decided to stop and buy a couple of soft drinks. After buying our drinks, we discovered that someone had stolen the bag containing the rats, thinking they had a bag of expensive pest control product! I can only imagine their surprise when they open the bag! Remember the rats had been in that bag day in the hot South Carolina sun!
I guess they got more than they bargained for!
Years ago when kids actually went outside to play, they would play challenging games that would test each other’s agility and courage. When a child failed to reach his intended objective; they would suddenly shout, “Do Over!” meaning they wanted a second chance. Doing something over is great if you are playing a game but in real life there are many situations that cannot be done over.
In the heat of passion, a young girl loses her virginity. There are no do overs! A person driving under the influence of alcohol has an accident and someone is killed. There are no do overs! A father spends too much time on the job, years pass and he realizes he cannot reclaim the wasted years he did not spend with his children. A person smokes cigarettes for years and as a result he has lung cancer. They cannot shout, “Do over!”
Life is filled with missed opportunities, mistakes, and other regrets. But life itself cannot be a ‘Do Over.’ We only get one shot, one go-around to live, so it is crucial to live life wisely. The Apostle Paul said life is like running a race, we all run but only those who finish well receive eternal life. 1 Cor. 9:24 If we ask God to forgive us of our past sins; He will. In its strictest sense; He gives us a second chance to live life as we should. But we cannot go back and undo some of things we did.
Don’t wait until old-age to prepare for eternity. Remember there are no “DO Overs.”