Erwin McManus, Uprising, p. 237
The world we live in is the product of billions of choices. Each of every person who has every lived has had a hand in shaping this world.
This is why the idea of parallel universes is so appealing. A parallel universe allows us to dream about the “what ifs” of life. We can imagine what life would have been like if we would have gone out for the football team, asked a certain girl out for a date, or applied ourselves in the classroom. Just think there might be a universe out there where I am a Batman type superhero.
All of us have made choices that we now regret. We would love to go back and change them, but as the great theologian Eddie Money taught us, we can’t go back and do things over. The past is the past and we can’t go back and make different choices.
Even if there were other parallel universes out there the alternate me making different or better choices doesn’t affect my life. The only life that affects me is the life that I am currently living.
I have to remember that the life that I am living right now is largely the product of the choices I have made. Yes, I have been affected by the choices of other people, but even those choices opened up new choices for me to make.
Much of life boils down to the choices that we make. Each day we are faced with hundreds of little choices, and those choices mold us into the people we are we are today. This reality means the choices that we make today play a part in shaping who we will be tomorrow.
This can sound a little scary. After all I know myself and I know how often I make the wrong choice. I know how easy it is not to exercise because I am too tired or how easy it is to eat the wrong thing (is that a Reeses Peanut Cup Blizzard calling my name?) because my body is craving it. Each and everyone of us have tired to become a different person, we have had the good intentions, and we have fallen short. This can be very discouraging.
I want to encourage you: Things can be different! It is possibly for us to become people we are proud of being. For this to happen we have to realize four important truths.
1. Our flesh will often lead us to make the wrong choices. Our flesh focuses on the immediate and seeks to satisfy our bodily desires. It is our flesh which leads us to sin. It was Eve’s flesh that convinced her to listen to the voice of Satan and eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It was Adam’s flesh that caused him to desire Eve more than he desired God. This is what Paul wrote about the flesh:
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God (Romans 8:5-8; ESV).
If we want to be part of what God is doing in this world, and in the process have our lives transformed, we need to choose to surrender our lives to the guidance of the Spirit. Otherwise, when we allow our choices to be guided by our flesh we will be led astray.
2. The Spirit will guide us to where we need to be. To break free from the pull of our flesh we need to be guided by the Spirit. As strange as it might sound when our flesh guides our choices we become less human. It is only when the Spirit guides our decision making that we become the people God created us to be. This is what Paul wrote about being guided by the Spirit:
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives:love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self- control. There is no law against these things!
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. (Galatians 5:22-25; NLT)
To be guided by the Spirit requires us to die to our flesh by being united with Jesus in his death and resurrection. It also requires us to daily surrender our lives to the working of the Spirit. When we do that we will discover that our lives are being transformed.
3. God has also made choices. This is good news for us! Our world is not only affected by our choices, but also the choices of supernatural beings, including God. The apostle Paul wrote:
Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure (Ephesians 1:4-5, NLT).
Paul tells us that from the very beginning God had a plan. He gave up some control when He gave His creatures free will, but God is still directing the world to His desired destination. This means, if we want to truly change our lives we need to choose to be part of what God is doing. We can have different lives because of the choices He has made. That is the good news! God’s choices are added into the equation of our choices to shape the future.
4. God has chosen to equip us. You see because God made the choice not to give up on humankind He committed Himself to do whatever it took to save us from sin, to rescue us from death, and to give us new life. He did this, not based on our good choices, but based on His character. God desired that we would be able to live lives which are guided by the Spirit and not by the flesh. In this way we would have the resources we need to make good decisions. Paul wrote:
A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh- and- blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:10-12; NLT)
God equips us to transform our lives and to enable us to join Him in His work of restoring the world. Part of the way God restores the world is through restoring us to be the people He created us to be. This doesn’t happen overnight, but it is something we need to fight for in order to experience. This is why God equips us with His armor.
Our futures are created by choices that are made. Our lives are affected by our choices, the choices of the people around us, the choices of Satan, and most importantly the choices of our Heavenly Father.
The reality that God is active in the world and in our lives is the good news that has the ability to change the trajectory of our lives. We can be different people and our futures shaped for the better when we open our hearts to the choices God has made in this world. Thank God our futures are not totally dependent on the choices we make! We can be hopeful for the future because of the choices God has made.