God gives us a choice in life. He made us to make choices and to differentiate between things of the world and things of Him. He designed us and our hardware so that ultimately our life is full of our own choices and beliefs.
Here’s why God gave us this freedom. Because it feels good to be chosen. Even his angels have a choice and one of them (Lucifer) chose against Him. That “angel” now lives to destroy everything God does, will never succeed. As much as Lucifer wants to wreck God’s plan, he’s only helping it inadvertently. He provides the other option for us to choose from. God uses that evil for good in that we get to be free-thinking beings with our own agenda. To further that, God created Lucifer – the source of all evil – knowing that he would turn evil with the purpose of providing another choice. Things to distract us from recognizing God’s constant hand in our life.
Sometimes, these “other choices” appear in the form of temptations, fear, or hard times we succumb to. These are created by Satan, but not without God knowing. God lets these things happen because He knows they will bring us closer to Him if we choose to see Him in the bad times and cling to Him when it’s all said and done. He also lets us choose what He knows will lead us down a harder path because He knows that it’s ultimately just basically the scenic route to Him.
Maybe there will be some unexpected twists and turns, maybe it’ll be a rocky road. But when we reach our ultimate destination, we’ll look back and see that the journey made the destination even better. It allowed us to see just how faithful and constant God always is. It allowed us to finally give God the recognition. He got us through that rocky road and brought us full circle to the mountaintop overlooking those hard times we just went through. And we won’t say to ourselves, “Look at how far I’ve come.” We’ll say, “Look at how far God brought me.”
In giving us these freedoms, we get to decide for ourselves how we live our lives. God made us to be His companions and His friends, so I’d imagine giving us the option hurts if we choose worldly things over the Creator of the world. But how good does it feel when we choose Him? Certainly much better than if we only had one option and felt forced into it. That’s not how it works with friends or companions or love, and that’s not how it’s supposed to work because it isn’t how God made it.
This choice connects back to my last entry. He wants us to choose to love Him, not to love Him because we literally have no other choice. Reflecting on one of the verses from my last entry, the greatest love is found when we “lay down one’s life for one’s friends…” Living our life choosing God no matter what comes is laying our life down to Him. Surrendering everything to him and recognizing that He is in control. Recognizing His hand in every single moment of ours lives – birth, growth, death, and everything in between show obvious signs of His work if we choose to take off the blinders the world puts on us and see Him. That is how we love Him. That is how we choose him.
Joshua 24:15 says, “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amirites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
These words come from Joshua, as part of a speech he gave to the Israelite as a messenger for God. Joshua’s whole message from God described in great detail how far He had brought them. Out of the land of Abraham and into Egypt. Out of Egypt and on the journey to the promised land. To conquer Jericho and settle the land He had promised generations before Joshua to Abraham. All of this to show them that He followed through, He put in the effort so surely He cares for them. Even still, He gives them the message through Joshua that tells them if they still think serving Him is evil even after how faithful He’s been, they are free to go worship other gods.
“CHOOSE FOR YOURSELF” were His exact words. Can I adequately express that? I don’t think so. All that He’s done and that He will never stop doing – sending His son to die for us, constantly proving Himself in a matter of different ways that are unique to all of us – and He still expects nothing from us in return. I don’t believe that He punishes us, because the Bible says that He is good and everything good comes from Him. (James 1:17) What I believe happens is that we get so far from Him by our choice (and He won’t stop us or reverse it because He made us to choose for ourselves) that the enemy very easily gets in. And it’s totally on us.
That’s not to say that if we’re with Him, we’re safe; Jesus himself said, “In this world, you will have trouble…” in John 16:33, but once you hear the ending of that verse (“…but take heart, I have overcome the world.”) and once you recognize that God uses the hard times to strengthen you and to make your story more beautiful, the hard times seem different. That’s a story for another day, but all of this to say that all God wants is to protect you and love you and be your lifelong companion through the good and the bad and bring you out on the other side so much stronger and wiser than you ever could have been on your own. He wants nothing in return but your willingness to submit to Him to let Him mold you into His most unique and special design. He’ll turn your gloomy days into beautiful sunsets and your hardest losses into your greatest victories through Him. All you have to do is choose Him and recognize His hands molding you like clay in the workshop “moments” of your life.
Overflow is excited to introduce a new blog segment called “Jesus Journal” written by one of our freshmen students, Alison Stephens! Alison loves coffee, Jesus, and is currently studying Managerial Studies at Tiffin University.