Choices, choices, choices

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - RELIGION - Sue Ber­to­lette Colum­nist

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.”

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