It’s getting late and I’m exhausted from job hunting all day online. Looking for your first job is lonely enough, why did we have to add the internet? I shake the disappointment from my mind and get under the covers. Then I see it.
A book. Just a little one. Maybe 150 small pages.
I’ve just finished four years of undergrad, so reading for pleasure wasn’t high on my list. But I’m mentally tired, not quite physically, so I pick it up.
A Mind for God it says. Hmm…
It was a free gift from the church my girlfriend had been taking me to. She liked it. I liked her. So I went. And they gave out copies of this book. I like free things, so I took one.
And here I am. Reading this thing.
And slowly, page by page, something happens.
Well, shifts more than happens. My mind shifts from thinking about what I have to do to what I want to do. From caring about nothing to seeing I might care about something. From always wanting more to seeing there actually is more.
So I make a choice. A choice to spend the rest of my life pursuing what had the power to make those shifts, and the ones that would follow in my heart and soul.
I made a choice to pursue a mind for God, which turned in to pursuing a life for God.
Here I am today, working at the church started by the man who wrote that book. Working for the man who wrote that book. And I wonder.
I wonder why I’m sitting here. I wonder what happened to all the other people that received that book – surely there were over a hundred. Why isn’t one of them sitting here instead?
But then I see why. It’s because of choices.
Surely there is more to my story (and yours) than mere choice, but maybe not less.
We are where we are because of choice plus circumstance. I believe in a God that involves Himself in those circumstances, you may not. Regardless, only one of those things we can control, and that is our choices.
Choice has always fascinated me. I began to see several years ago that life is nothing less than a series of choices, though it is also much, much more. But it remains that our lives are defined by a series of choices, one after the other, each leading to a particular place, time and consequence.
I made the choice to read that book. It altered the path of my life.
I made the choice to believe a man named Jesus rose from the dead. I believe that changed my eternity (though my choice was not possible without his pursuit).
I made the choice to volunteer at a church. It altered my career.
I made the choice to have children. It changed my life for the better in every category (but sleep!).
Every one of those choices was the first step, simply setting the ball in motion. After that came the hard work. Figuring out what to do with my life, getting a job, quitting that job, figuring out how to be a husband and a father.
Some of the choices we make in life are good, some are bad. But it is making good choices, wise choices, that I’m interested in. Because it’s the wise choices that have the power to shift our hearts and minds. It’s the wise choices that have the power to give you the marriage you want, the career you want, the life you want. (Again, we’re talking about what we can control here.)
When I think through the pattern of choices in my life, and if you think through yours, I start to see a pattern emerge. A formula even. A way to make a few better choices. And, like the best things in life, it’s quite simple.
First we recognize that we have choices to make every day, then we consider what the wise thing to do is. Lastly, we do what it takes to make that choice.
Recognizing that we have a choice to make sounds so obvious it might be insulting. But if you’re insulted, perhaps you’re exactly the kind of person that’s making poor choices. We have to see that each day we are presented with choices, some benign, others life-altering, but each day they’re there.
If we fail to recognize them, we will most often fail to make the wise choice. Instead, we must see that the choices when they arise.
We must see that a conversation with your spouse about what kind of parent you want to be is more than a way to pass the time – it’s a choice between looking back at children you are either proud or ashamed to have raised. An opportunity to do something that stretches you isn’t just an annoyance in your day – it’s a choice between growing as a person or staying the same.
Once we begin to recognize these moments, these choices, for what they are, we then have to decide what the wise choice actually is. This is not always easy. Our mix of presuppositions, morals, values, religion, and families make our choices less clear than we’d often like.
But. Each of us has the ability to look at a choice we’ve been presented with and discern what the wise to do is. Some of us might be more keen at making wiser decisions, some of us the opposite, but we can smell the difference between wise and foolish.
And when we know what the wise thing is, it’s time to do what it takes to make it happen. And this is more difficult than even knowing what’s wise. Because now you must do hard things, have the difficult conversations, make the big changes.
Maybe you’re staring at one of these choices right now. Maybe reading this is keeping you from it. Odds are you probably know the wise thing to do, but you’re scared to do it. Don’t run from it. It only makes the next choice harder.
Instead, recognize the choice. See the wise decision. And do the work to make it happen.