Acknowledging Choice

It is easy for us to look at our lives when things are going wrong and blame others. If your day started off badly, maybe your alarm didn’t go off because your phone chose to update, or someone cut you off in traffic or you got a flat tire and it made you late. We like blaming someone else because it lets us off the hook and opens the door to milk a bad day for the entire day versus the 5 minutes we should have given it.

When my girls are having a rough morning, for whatever reason, and I hear the words, “This is going to be a terrible day!” I always try to redirect them to remember that they have a choice. They can let this moment ruin the day or they can choose to give it the barely just 5 minutes of attention and move on.

I painted the picture for them holding $10,000. If someone comes along and takes $100, and burns it, do you throw the rest away? Is the rest of that money worthless? I know money is something most kids and even most adults understand all too well. For my girls, I can see the light go on. Why ruin the rest of the 1,335 minutes of your day over 5 minutes that you didn’t like?

Normally this works, and I can get them refocused on choosing a better day and not packing up and living in that less than pleasant moment. How often do we just pack up and live in a bad moment? Even more so, how often do we blame others that the day, week or even month is ruined? More than any of us care to admit.

The Origin of Blame

The blame game started somewhere and it started at the beginning of creation. The funny thing is that most people are still blaming Eve for eating the apple. The origin of sin and lies all starts at the very beginning. Let’s get old school and look at the story of our ancestors. Time to open up Genesis!

It all started with man.

We know that God created Adam first. From the dust of the earth God formed him. Then God breathed His breath into Adam. (Genesis 2:7) He put the man he created in the garden of Eden and instructed him not to eat from the tree of the fruit of good and evil. Then gave him the instruction to take care of the garden.

It can be asked, “Why would God put a tree that could lead Adam and Eve to sin right in the middle of their home in Eden?”

Obedience without choice is hollow. It is easy to follow the rules when nothing tempts you to break them. It all comes back to choice. God wanted Adam and Eve to choose the obedient life with Him. Eve made the choice to believe the deception of the serpent, that somehow God was being stingy and withholding something from them. Oftentimes I think when God says no, or closes a door to us, we think He must be withholding something far greater than we can imagine. In reality, He is working to redirect us to the bounty He has waiting for us in obedience.

The Blame Game

So Eve made the wrong choice, she shared that mistake with Adam and the blame game began. The second God asked why they thought they were naked, and if they ate from the tree, Adam was all too willing to share with God whose fault it was. “The woman you put here with me!” (Genesis 3:12)

With choice comes the recognition of what that choice can mean for our lives. Beyond the momentary pleasure of sin and corruption, lies and anger. How many times have we let our emotions roller coaster us into hurting those we love because in that moment it felt justified?

God punished Adam and Eve for their choice, Adam to spend his life and the lives of generations to come working hard to take care of his family all of his days. Eve, the pain of childbearing. I know so many people think of the discomfort of labor and the pain of childbirth but I see this more of a long term pain. The decisions in child rearing, watching your children grow, the effect of time and how quickly it passes robs us of staying in those little moments, making it all the more important to be part of them.

The emotional pain is something that each parent, mother and father will carry with them as their children grow. I can’t even imagine the pain, suffering, and the love and pride God has in each of us as He watches us grow.

All too often, we think that our choices only affect us. The truth is, no matter what decision you face, and whether or not you make the right one, there will be consequences. Both good and bad. In the book of Esther, Queen Vashti stuck my her inner morals in a lose-lose situation. She could go parade herself in front of a large party of very drunk men, or she could disobey her husband and king. No winning here. She chose to NOT obey, and in turn, that caused a chain reaction that created a rule for all wives and husbands all through Persia to make sure they kept their wives in line.

We will all be faced with situations where no matter what, it is lose-lose. Someone will get hurt no matter what, and there will be consequences for your choices. No matter what those choices are, and no matter if we make the right one, we must acknowledge that sometimes, even the right choice has a negative impact on others.

Luckily for all of us, God knew that he was going to need to help us. That one mistake in the garden, that one bad choice was all it took. That moment changed every living beings future. God took the lives of innocent animals to clothe the now naked Adam and Eve, a foreshadowing of what He would later do for us in Christ.

As Adam and Eve left the garden to build their family, sin followed them out the gates. The world was changed now. The battle had now begun. We face it now each day. Just as Cain and Abel did. We get to choose how we respond.

Sometimes we will bring our gifts to God and He will choose not to bless us. We can find ourselves angry that what we wanted doesn’t seem to have God’s hand on it. My own personal goal now is to remember what happened to Cain. When Cain brought his fruits to God and they were not looked on with favor, God tested Cain, instructed him that his anger was the doorway to sin. It was waiting to pounce on him, (Genesis 4:6) and Cain made his choice. He let loose his anger, killed his brother and lost everything. Driven out from the presence of the Lord.

Can you imagine, being able to be in God’s actual presence, knowing him and then doing something so bad, so terrible that He would never again want you in His presence? I shudder to think of that conversation as Cain tried so hard to shrug off what he did and then to miss the chance that God was giving him fess up to what he did. Instead, he compounded his sin against God with a lie. Cain made the choice to not only act on his anger, but to then lie about it. I can see the tear stained face of God, just heart broken over the loss of Abel and I can see that sadness turn into righteous anger that required a price be paid.

Have you ever paid the price for choosing anger?

Everything starts with choice. We can choose to allow God to lead us, to guide our steps and to allow His providence to rule, or we can choose to allow sin, distraction, and selfishness to be our guides instead. It will always come back to that choice.

I have made decisions in anger, yelled at my kids, fought with loved ones, even responded unkindly to my husband. Lord am I grateful that man has patience with me!

We all do it. Words said in anger leave scars and memories of moments we regret, things we can’t take back.

Lost friends, relationships with loved ones, and even lost relationships with those closest to us. Our children and our spouses. The hurt we have the potential to cause each other is immeasurable. Far too often, we make the wrong decision, and act out of pain, fear and anger instead of love, grace and forgiveness.

In everything since Christ died for us, there is a silver lining. Even Saul’s redemption to Paul and God changing him and creating in him a new spirit, renewed him from sinful persecutor to larger than life gospel preacher! What hope we can find in that! In His final moments, Christ cried out, “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do!” Luke 23:34. The path to choosing starts there. It starts at the base of the cross. To go from sinful sons of Adam, misguided and terrible at leading ourselves, to redeemed, children of God, cleansed and forgiven.

From Sons of Adam to Children of God. From Sinful to Redeemed.

One of the hardest lessons to learn as a little kid is that when we do something wrong, we had a choice. It is hard to reign in our impulses and instead of acting on our nature and our instincts, versus stopping to think and pray.

It doesn’t seem to have gotten much easier into adulthood to pause and react intentionally versus acting on our feelings in the moment.

We have already proven over and over that we make terrible leaders of our own lives. What do you think would happen if we let God lead?

The truth is, we need to admit where we are wrong, pray for God’s healing and forgiveness.

Why?

Because when we give the reins of our lives back to God, he will bring us through every growing moment, every hard decision, and he will do so with love, grace and even the mythical peace that surpasses all understanding.

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