Choice consists of the mental process of thinking involved with the process of judging the merits of multiple options and selecting one of them for action. Some simple examples include deciding whether to get up in the morning or go back to sleep, or selecting a given route for a journey. More complex examples (often decisions that affect what a person thinks or their core beliefs) include choosing a lifestyle, religious affiliation, or political position.
This morning I met a man who was working what most would consider a dead-end job. While I see this man on a regular basis (on my way to the office) for the first time I wondered what was it that brought him to this place. Now while I don’t usually “jump to conclusions” the obvious truth was staring me in the face. This man came to this point in life because of the choices he made along the way. We all make choices, and those choices lead to behavior, and behavior has consequences.
As I sat there, watching this man work, I wondered what choices he might have made to bring him here. A number of thoughts came to my mind. Is it possible that while “partying” with his friends, he consumed alcohol or drugs to the point of inebriation. The first few drinks, or the first few times he used chemical substances, were choices. After that, he may have come to to place of dependency, where he was “driven” to abuse the substances more and more, until one night his behavior put him behind the wheel of an automobile, or in a situation that involved law enforcement. The alert officer saw the signs of chemical/alcohol abuse which led to an accident, or a violation of some other law, and now…he was arrested, charged and adjudicated. His police or abuse record now follows him for the rest of his life. Ultimately, it was his choices that brought him here.
My mind continued to work, and I wondered if perhaps he was an unpopular student at school. Always chosen last on the playground, or perhaps his grades plummeted because he couldn’t keep up with the other children. It is quite possible that he didn’t have the parental support at home, because of the choices others made, and after continued failures in the academic setting, he decided it was easier to drop out of school than to continue. This was a choice he made, but now, years later, he is living out the consequences of his choice in education. There was a time when America was a more industrial-based economy, and factory jobs that didn’t require much education were plentiful…but now? Well, we’ve moved to an information/service-based economy, where basic skills learned through education will be requirements for the job force. Now, years later, he is in a dead-end job because of his choice.
A man/woman finds marriage growing more and more monotonous. With the cost of raising a family, providing housing and everything comes with it, work hours grow longer and communication decreases in the marriage. Actually, communication doesn’t have to decrease. Even with the ever increasing demands, there are still 168 hours in every week, and choices can “carve out” time to maintain a relationship strong. Yet, as communication decreases, a chasm grows in the relationship.
One day a younger co-worker seems to notice the increasing stress, causing your behavior to change…your relationships are tenuous at best, and they notice you. Where your mate at home does not seem to “understand” you, this person does. They take time to notice you, to listen to your concerns, and one day the comment is made, “my husband/wife just doesn’t understand.” The co-worker replies without hesitation, “I don’t understand that. You are so kind, he/she is lucky to have you.” Maybe there is a pat on the hand, an arm around the shoulder, or even what seems to be an innocent embrace. The choices began a long-time-ago, but for the first time, you begin to notice a change in your own thinking. “What if? No, I don’t need to go there.” But you do. Now you make a choice to place yourself in situations where you are increasing sharing time with the co-worker. Now the embraces become more common place…the lunches grows more intimate, the fantasies more commonplace. Then you make the ultimate choice…it’s actually a choice that began a long-time-ago, when you chose to NOT cultivate the relationship with your spouse.
The great King David made such a choice once. While his men were on the battlefield, he chose to stay home…and while walking late one evening, a beautiful young neighbor named Bathsheba caught his eye. His next choice caused a calamity of huge proportions. He chose to have her brought to him…she became pregnant…she was a married woman, and while her husband was serving the king on the field of battle, David was helping himself to Bathsheba. His choice led to a cover up. How many times have we heard, “the cover up is worse than the crime?” In this case, the cover up led to the murder of an innocent man, the death of a baby, and a king whose repentant prayer is one for all of us to read (Psalm 51). It was David’s choice…he chose wrong. He should have been on the field of battle, and if not, he should have turned and walked back to his own home…but he didn’t make those choices.
Back to the husband/wife and the co-worker. Their choice will not lead to a broken home, ultimate betrayal and the separation of a family. The children may now have two buy two or three Mother’s Day cards, they will be separated from the biological parents, and the happy home that was envisioned on the wedding day. Court battles, divorce, embarrassment, shame and unfortunately, the choice made by this man/woman will sow the seed for future generations. How sad, how unfortunate, how preventable…yet it was a choice that began it all.
Regardless of what brought this man to his dead-end job, all of these thoughts flooded my mind. Choice is such an important thing. A free will that God placed in every person. Life is about choices. From the beginning it was this way.
Adam and Eve (Genesis 3) were placed in a garden called Eden. God told them they could eat the fruit of every tree in that garden…except one. They could have eaten of the Tree of Life, but instead, they chose to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Their choice, which was actually disobedience to God, led to an immediate realization of their own nakedness which led to fear. That fear, resulted in their behavior to hide from God. They were banished from the Garden of Eden, and the results of their choice, sin and death was passed on to every human being from that time to now.
The good news is that God made a way to recover from wrong choices. We can make the choice to accept Jesus Christ as the Lord of all, and as our personal savior (John 3:16) or we can choose a life of sin, death and separation from God.
Choices? We all make them, every day of our life is filled with choices. It is incumbent on all of us to make the right choice…remember, the results can lead to life or death…therefore, choose wisely. Your eternity depends on it.