One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was that of a dear friend. During a conversation that wasn’t really about giving advice at all, she said, “Katherine, you always have choices.” It was a simple comment, but it’s stayed with me for several years. I’ve had so many times when it seemed like I had no choice at all, but remembering her words has helped me to really take a look at every situation and determine what choices are available to me. And those words have never been proved wrong.
We have choices when it comes to how we live our lives. Some are big choices: who we will marry. What career we will pursue. Whether we will buy a house. Where we will live. Other choices seem much smaller: what we will eat for dinner. How we will raise our children. How we will talk to our co-workers. How we will manage our money. But no matter whether it’s a major choice or a small one, we tend to want to choose for ourselves. Humans usually don’t want anyone else telling them what to do or how to do it. And sometimes, we don’t even want God to tell us what to do!
I have heard people say that they don’t believe God cares about our choices, whether big or small. I’ve also heard people say that a God who tells us what to do is somehow “insecure,” needing people to do His bidding. Neither of these is an accurate picture. The Old Testament is a record of a God who allowed people their choices, and of the poor choices His people made, time and again. It is also a record of God giving His people every chance to succeed, down to telling them ahead of time what the consequences of all those choices would be. His motivation wasn’t insecurity, or a need for people to worship Him: instead, His motivation was love. In Deuteronomy 10:12-14 And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,  To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?  Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD's thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is.
See All..., Israel was asked, “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good?”
God’s ways were never intended to be burdensome or repressive; instead, God gave Israel—and gives us today—His ways as guidelines to a good and abundant life. No life is free from trouble, but following God’s ways brings blessings. But He will not make us follow His ways. Instead, He gives us choices, just as He gave Israel choices. In Deuteronomy 30:15-16 See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;  In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.
See All..., He says, “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, 16 in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess.” A few verses later, though, He adds , “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live…” (Deuteronomy 30:19I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: See All...).
God’s ways may sometimes be difficult to choose; the world offers so many attractive temptations, and the world’s ways may seem much easier to live with. But God has given us His commandments to help us to have peaceful, joyful, abundant lives. He will not make us follow Him; He leaves the choice up to us. You always have choices: which choices will you make?
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