Our high school closed as our town closed and my family could not afford to keep me in school, so I began unloading boxcars at 16 years of age. I worked hard and slowly promotions came, but finally at age 23 I realized at this rate I would be at the bottom end of the wage scale for the rest of my life. I was living a limited life with a limited future. I “took the bull by the horns” and made some tough decisions. I completed my education and went on to university although it was difficult. The experience was good for me—though hard on the family—but today I see my life has been so much richer and fuller because I was not content to just let things happen. My family benefited in ways I would never have dreamed of and thus I felt extra blessed. God did give us a mind with which to think and the ability to make choices. We need to take matters into our own hands and control that which we can.
We do have the ability—given by our Creator—to make decisions and choices affecting our own futures. Our decisions and thus our futures are not predetermined. We can change our futures because we make choices having a meaningful impact. Not all people are in a position to do much. Poverty, health problems, events such as war and so on, play an important part in either limiting or broadening our opportunities. But, as we accept and live through these life events, we still possess some control in the decisions we make.
God made this concept clear when He set “life and death” before Israel and encouraged them to “choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:15-20). This concept can be applied to situations we see every day among our young people. High school students make choices such as taking drugs and often slip into a horrible lifestyle, which ends in an early grave. Young lives are wasted and parents frantically try to help—as they wonder what they did wrong. Of course, many students continue to make wise and correct choices, even if they are difficult.
Today I see my life has been so much richer and fuller because I was not content to just let things happen.
King David altered the history of Israel and of his own family by his bad decision regarding Bathsheba and Uriah (2 Samuel 12:7-12). God said David had a choice; he could have made a different decision. It is fortunate for mankind God can adjust His works or plan—regardless of our decisions. He can slow events down as He did at Babel (Genesis 11:6). He can wipe out an attacking army (2 Kings 19:35). He can and does bless individual efforts. As a matter of fact, God loves to bless those who make good choices.
Since creation humans have been given the right to participate in their eternal futures. Decisions we make in this life have much to do with our future as God’s children. God bestows talents and waits for our decisions and actions, which produce results. He gave Solomon much wisdom (1 Kings 3:12) but Solomon was not forced (by God) to use it and indeed lost the kingdom because he did not act wisely (1 Kings 11:11). If a person is given five talents and doubles that through hard work and good choices, God will give that person a great reward and a bonus as well (Matthew 25:20-21). In 1 Corinthians 3:12-15, Paul writes of how people build out of gold, silver and so on. All are a result of decisions and choices. They will be tested to see if they endure. Our choices will affect our futures.
The Bible gives us much encouragement to use our minds to look ahead and make our futures secure. Politicians are told to look ahead before they start a war—to see if they have the resources to be successful (Luke 14:28-32). The book of Proverbs admonishes us to learn from the ant (Proverbs 6:6; 30:25). We need to realize that the productive years come and go quickly. At old age, a person is to have saved enough for a comfortable life and enough to give an inheritance to his grandchildren (Proverbs 13:22). We are told that a little sleep, a little folding of the hands (which translates into idleness), and poverty will catch us (Proverbs 24:33-34). I have heard people who have experienced poverty blame everything and everyone else except themselves. Never taking responsibility for one's life and actions produces a person who will not accept responsibility even in later life when he reaps what he has sown—the result of decisions made. To be lazy, for example, is a choice and has a natural consequence.
Certainly, some people have exceedingly few choices. A person dying of starvation or disease has almost no choices left. Orphaned children are very helpless. The Bible does tell us pure and undefiled religion before God is to concern oneself with the affliction of widows and orphans (James 1:27). Clearly, there are people who do need a hand up. It is those who have refused hands a thousand times, or who have blindly refused to act to improve their lot in life we find it hard to help. The Bible also says if a person refuses to work (assuming the person is healthy and able to work) they should not eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12). Here we see we should not just feed such a person. It is interesting to note when we do provide help on a constant basis, people often become dependent on that help and lose the ability to help themselves. It is not always easy to distinguish a genuine need for help from an attempt to lean on the naivete or kindness of others.
It is interesting to note when we do provide help on a constant basis, people often become dependent on that help and lose the ability to help themselves.
God tells us He is only content with those who worship Him with all their heart, soul, mind and strength (Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30). This means a determined, well-thought-out effort that wells up from within the person. It is never too late to change our habits—we only need the will and perseverance to change, and the knowledge of how to change. Change is demanded if anyone is to receive the gifts God has to offer (Revelation 21:7). Eternal life is given to those who strive to enter (Hebrews 4:1, 6, 11). Humans are told to run with wisdom (1 Corinthians 9:24). God says to “study to show ourselves approved” (2 Timothy 2:15), and James wrote that faith without works is dead (James 2:20). All of these points involve choices we make.
A man once said we should work as though everything depends on our own effort and pray as though everything depends on God. This is good advice. Life can be cruel—we either take control of whatever we can—or we become like a chip of wood riding the waves, driven by wind and tide to a destination we have not chosen. God says: “Choose life.” Choosing life is still your choice—now all you need to do is make it.
For more reading on your future, ask for our free booklets What Is Your Destiny? and The Road to Eternal Life.