Whether you look at the COVID pandemic, the civil and political unrest in America or the ongoing Brexit saga, seldom has there been a year like 2020 where the impact of our past choices has been highlighted to us so forcefully. Seldom, too, has there been a year where our current choices have been so curtailed, and we have experienced first-hand how our natural free will revolts against this.
Genesis, the very first book of the Bible, details how God created us with this free will and placed our first parents in wonderful circumstances with near limitless options to exercise it:
“God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature’” (Genesis 1:28 NIV).
“You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil for when you eat from it you will certainly die” (Genesis 2:16,17 NIV).
Despite such appealing conditions (unlike our situation today) humans did indeed choose what was worst for them – to disobey God’s only command, and as a result bring sin and death into this world and upon all their descendants. The deceit, disease and disorder we see all around us at the moment are evidence that we are still living with the consequences of that first disastrous choice. Yet graciously, despite our failure, God has not withdrawn all options from us; neither does He offer us the kind of choice typical of recent times – where each alternative is mediocre or we’re hoodwinked into believing one is far better or worse than it turns out to be.
Instead the Bible unfolds clearly and truthfully for us God’s great masterplan of redemption for mankind through the sending of His Son Christ Jesus to pay for our sins with His blood and to defeat death for us by His resurrection. God once again offers the choice: to trust and obey Him and know the joyfulness of a life lived for Him and eventually with Him, or to carry on living our own way that is guaranteed to lead not only to physical death but also to spiritual death – separation from God and His goodness forever. The choice is summed up in words spoken initially to His people Israel but applying to us all today:
“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil ... Therefore choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:15,19 ESV).
If you are not yet a Christian then you have the opportunity, in a year marked by poor and limited choices, to make a choice that could alter your life and your destiny for the better forever. If you are already a Christian then rejoice in the fact that, though we sometimes must submit to unwelcome choices, we are known and loved by the God who is ultimately in control of it all. When we chose Him as Saviour we also chose Him as Lord of our lives. Do our lives demonstrate that we believe Him to be the best of masters? Joshua, that great servant who trusted God throughout a life filled with trying circumstances, posed the oft-quoted challenge:
“Choose this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15 ESV).
In a year when so many other choices have been taken from us, we still have the opportunity every single day to choose to serve Him, and to submit our will to His and place all our choices in His hands.