Choices, choices, choices
We are now three weeks into a brand new year ... so, how are you doing with the resolutions you made on New Year’s Eve? Are you sticking to that diet, exercise regimen, study plan, or have you begun to lose heart, go astray, bend the rules a bit? Maybe you are one of the many who no longer makes resolutions, deeming them futile and unhelpful to your overall well-being. Wherever you find yourself on this wintry Saturday, let me suggest another way of approaching the year that now stretches out before us.
As the Old Testament book of Joshua draws to a close, Joshua reminds the Hebrew people of all God has done for them, beginning with leading them out of Egypt where they had been enslaved, journeying with them in the wilderness under Moses’ leadership, and bringing them to a land of plenty. Because they were prone to forget God’s steadfast love for them, and at times even worshipped other gods, Joshua felt the need to challenge them with these words: “Choose this day whom you will serve ... but as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
Life is full of choices, and I’m not just talking about the big ones, like choosing a life partner (or not), choosing a vocation, choosing a place to live or choosing whom we will serve. Our lives are an accumulation of all the little, seemingly insignificant choices we make every day: how we treat the people we meet along the way, what we say and how we say it, the company we keep, or how we spend our time and money. Because we are human, we will make mistakes. Some of our choices will be terrible, but that does not mean we are doomed or that there is no hope.
Musician Herbie Hancock tells of playing on stage with the legendary jazz trumpeter Miles Davis. Davis was in the midst of an incredible piece of music, playing with great clarity and feeling, the audience holding onto his every note, when Hancock, who was accompanying him on the piano, played a wrong chord. To Hancock, it sounded like a big mistake, horrifyingly wrong. To his amazement, Miles Davis paused only ever so slightly, and then proceeded to incorporate the wrong chord into the music, making it right. You see, Davis did not view it as a mistake: it just happened. It was simply an event. The moral to the story: when you hit a wrong note, it’s the next note you play that determines if it’s good or bad!
In the course of our lives we will, no doubt, hit wrong notes, choose unwisely, or fail to do the good we intended to do,
but that does not mean we are doomed or done. Thankfully, our God is a forgiving God — one who wipes our slate clean and challenges us to take the wrong chord we have played and turn it into something good, perhaps even beautiful. Nido Qubein made the observation, “Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go — they merely determine where you start.” Regardless of what the first three weeks of this New Year have been like, the future depends on what we choose to do TODAY. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote: “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” May we dare to take that first step, persuaded of the truth of these words written by the apostle Paul: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.”