I’ve spent the last few months reading through the book of Jeremiah. The thing that struck me was how many times God gave His people the choice of whether or not to forsake their idols and worship Him. As I read, I realized how many times we have choices to make. In our relationships with family, friends, co-workers, and especially with God. These next few weeks I will be sharing a 5-part series on choices. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on what helps you make wise choices.
I never intended to do it.
I never set out to talk smack about another person. And yet, there I sat, having dinner with a friend. She had begun working for a person I used to work for.
All I wanted to do was help my friend have a mindset that would help her work well with her boss.
And somewhere in the conversations (and I hang my head here), the talk sidled into gossip. As the Holy Spirit began to convict me, I tried to justify my words.
To explain to Him I was only sharing in order to help my friend.
God’s Spirit burned in my heart until I knew I had a choice to make. To come clean with my former boss, or ignore His prompting and end up distanced from God.
Whichever way I chose, my pride would take a tumble.
I arranged to meet with my former boss. With head hung low and tears threatening, I confessed what I had done.
Oh, the humiliation.
I was reading in Jeremiah 21 recently. God speaks harsh words through Jeremiah to King Zedekiah and his minions. God declared He would not help them as in years past because their hearts had hardened against Him. He told them He would be fighting for the other side.
God had endured their idol worship, their willful disobedience to His word.
He had chafed at their hollow worship for decades.
He had tried to woo them back to Him . . . sent them prophets who would speak truth, share His heart, and the pending consequences if the people of Judah didn’t change their ways.
Finally, God made good on His word. Nebuchadnezzar was ready to roll . . . all over Jerusalem and the surrounding countryside.
God knew this had to happen. Perhaps it was the last way for His people to see their need to turn their hearts back toward Him.
The people made poor choices, and God’s word was burning them. He set His conditions for the people to hear and make a decision.
In Jeremiah 21:8-9 He says:
“‘Furthermore, tell the people, “This is what the Lord says: See, I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death. Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine or plague. But whoever goes out and surrenders to the Babylonians who are besieging you will live; they will escape with their lives.”’” (emphasis mine)
Hard choices! Take a stand and try to defend your city, your homeland (in disobedience to God) . . . or surrender to your enemy.
Who would consider surrender as an option?
Both of these choices must have seemed unbearably hard to the people. But, there was no easy way to avoid the consequences of their sins.
“See, I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death.”
God still offers us choices. Sometimes we’re stuck in a situation because of our decisions. And all the resulting decisions are hard. Each choice we make moves us closer to either life or death.
Sometimes the harder choice is actually the better one.
It seems like, especially after we’ve walked in sin for a season, humility is on our menu of choices.
Sometimes, it’s in humbling ourselves—confessing our wrong and turning to the Lord—that stony hearts are broken.
Forged back together in a way that shines God’s light more clearly.
My choice required personal humility. The Israelites’ was a national choosing. As I shared with my boss, compassion filled her eyes, which unlocked my tears. I so didn’t deserve her kindness.
She spoke the words that began the breaking and healing process within me: “I forgive you.” And she wrapped me in a hug.
There’s nothing quite so amazing as picking the harder, more humbling choice and watching how God shows up in the midst of it.
What about you? When have you had only hard choices before you and how did you decide? When have you seen God show up in your mess and bring healing?
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