“See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess.”
When I read these words in Deuteronomy I know that my choices matter, because they shape my life every day. On the other hand many choices have already been made for me by virtue of where and when I was born and the opportunities that were, or were not available to me. Some choices were never really mine to make in the first place. Especially, I am persuaded that when it comes to the question of my existence in this life and the next, God made the choice for me in baptism. I belong to God, and nothing I choose or do not choose will ever change that.
Still, I know that every moment of every day I make choices that make a difference in my life, and the life of those around me. Will I heed my alarm clock at 6:00 am and get up to do my morning devotions or will I snuggle down under the blankets and sleep a little longer? Will I continue to robotically eat the box of chocolates my son gave me for Valentine’s, or will I take only one and save the others to be spread out over several days. Or better yet, will I share them with others? Will I spend an extra ten minutes listening to a woman who I see in the grocery store who I know needs to share a particular burden she is carrying, or will I look the other way and turn down another aisle pretending that I did not see her looking at me. Will I pause to pray before I jump headlong into my day, or will I move ahead as though it all rests on me? Will I put away my smart phone long enough to see the person who is serving me at the cash register? And these are the easy choices.
Many of our day-to-day living choices do not seem like they are about choosing life. But are they? They may not be ‘life and death’ choices’, but they are choices that are tilted towards life or death. And perhaps each of our everyday choices prepare us for the day when we make a choice that is life-altering, like will we stay in a situation that is not about life, but about death. Will we find the courage to speak the truth even if it could be very costly? Will we choose between the comfort of what we know, or the fear of what is yet unknown? These are all hard choices, but in essence, all our choices are life and death choices just to different degrees. Will I love God or won’t I. Will my choices reflect God’s love in some way or not? What I hear in this text is that every choice we make is important, and each one gives us the opportunity to choose life.
Moses’ listeners so long ago did not heed his urging. In fact, the people in exile who heard them understood that they were being punished for not listening to them, yet God led them into a promised land. We also know that, in spite of ourselves, God will love us. We believe in the Resurrected Christ, who calls us to choose life. Sometimes I’ll get it right, but many times I won’t. Either way, every day the privilege and the challenge, is to sort out what life looks like and try to choose it. And then to entrust it back to God who loves us.
- When you hear the words ‘choose life,’ what comes to mind for you? What does it mean to choose life?
- How do your smaller day-to-day choices reflect or impact the more heavy choices you make?
- What difference does it make if we believe God chose us first?
Sue is NLS Spiritual Director, since 2019 and is a retired Lutheran Pastor (ELCA). Active in VdC since 1995, she has served two terms on the Board of the Texas VdC Secretariat, and also on the Texas Gulf Coast VdC Board as Spiritual Director since its start-up in 2017.