My foot is in a cast right now. It’s not the hard, white, plaster kind—the one your friends could sign if you’d broken your arm in third grade—but it’s a cast nonetheless. At least it is to me. My right foot is wrapped in white gauze from the base of my toes all the way above my ankle, then overlaid in several layers of elastic bandages. All of this is hiding a row of stitches from an incision I acquired during a minor surgical procedure which I scheduled for earlier this month.
And my cast wasn’t the only thing accompanying me home from the hospital. I also brought home a pill bottle of prescribed drugs my doctor gave me to treat the pain.
Yes. This medication has made me a happy woman.
Only one problem—these particular meds make me incredibly sleepy. After popping a couple of pills, they bring down my energy level as fast as my pain level. I can barely keep my eyes open once they get into my system.
Now this isn’t really a bad thing, especially when the evening is winding down and it’s time for me to lay my head on the pillow. The problem has been when I’ve needed to quell my pain in the middle of the day, when I still need my eyes open and my brain alert so I can fully engage in the tasks at hand. That’s what finally led me to call the doctor back. To tell him about my problem. To which he offered a most wonderful solution: a different type of prescribed medication that eases the pain without promoting drowsiness.
So I now have two pain pill options. And it’s up to me which one to take, based on the outcome I want produced. I’m well aware of the consequences associated with each drug, so there’s no one to blame but me if I take the pill that makes me sleepy and then get upset when I can’t concentrate on my writing or my children or whatever I need to accomplish in the day.
It’s up to me to choose wisely.
And if I want to be able to stay alert, there’s really no choice to make at all.
Two options. One choice.
That’s kind of the same way Moses described the two clear alternatives God was offering to His people as they stood on the outskirts of the land of promise after sojourning in the wilderness for four decades. In a series of messages given to His beloved fellow Hebrews, Moses laid out their options before them like medicine bottles wrapped in unmistakable labels, each bearing plainly marked descriptions of the consequences the people could expect from taking either one. This was no smoke-and-mirrors presentation. Moses was 120 years old, nearing his death, and he fully grasped the urgency of the moment. A man who’s met God in a burning bush doesn’t have much use for beating around the brutal honesty bush.
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. – Deuteronomy 30:19
The first option was “life.” By loving the Lord, clinging to Him, and committing themselves to Him in faithful obedience, the people could expect a long, prosperous existence as a nation, filled with a lifetime supply of His joy and peace. This would allow them to be recipients of all the benefits stipulated by the covenant God had initiated with them. In fact, His blessings would not only be available to them but would “overtake” them (Deuteronomy 28:2)—an interesting figure of speech suggesting that even if they were to try, they would not be able to escape the favor of the Lord upon their lives.
The second option was “death.” Making this selection would result in consequences equally explicit—things like misery, loss of divine favor, the insecurity of living outside God’s protection. Terrible stuff. Horrible, long-lasting side effects. Worse than the kind they rattle off on those television commercials that come on while you’re cooking dinner. Like any good prescription label, nothing had been hidden from God’s people. All had been explained. They possessed every piece of information needed to make their decision thoughtfully and carefully.
And yet was there really a choice to make?
Would anyone knowingly seek “refuge in his own destruction”? (Psalm 52:7).
Some of us do. As crazy as it sounds. And Moses, knowing the tendency of his wayward flock to wander headfirst into stupidity, decided they needed all the direction and encouragement they could get. Approaching them like a faithful pastor, he offered this strikingly obvious advice:
“Choose life so that you and your descendants may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:19)
Once and for all, it was said. The thinking had been done for them. They could never say they were unclear on which option would produce which result. If they wanted to remain alert, fully able to take in and enjoy the abundance of God’s blessing in their lives, as well as in the lives of those they loved, they had to select the option designed to produce that result.
And so do we. So do you.
God has come to give you, not just life, but life “in abundance” (John 10:10). Yet you must make a decision. Not merely the once-and-for-all decision that leads to eternal salvation, but the daily decision to live in purity before Him. You can’t expect to consume the known, obvious, death-defying alternatives of this world and still be alert and awake to what God is doing around you, what He wants to accomplish in you, or how He can bless you with a genuinely productive, satisfying, fulfilling life. That which is evil and deceptively wicked will dull your senses, grieve God’s Spirit, and keep you from having the joyful existence you were saved to experience. His way—and His way alone—leads to life.
Today an eye-opening choice is set before you.
Which one will you take?
Priscilla Shirer, Going Beyond Ministries