French existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre once observed “we are our choices.” Meanwhile one of his contemporaries General Charles de Gaulle in exasperation declared: “How can anyone govern a nation that has two hundred and forty-six different kinds of cheese?”
Without doubt Sartre was on to something of significance, but equally telling is how we are surrounded by a whirlwind of choices and options. Take a stroll down the local cereal aisle at your local grocery store and you will quickly realize we are treading water in a rolling sea of decisions and alternatives.
Most of our decisions in a given day matter little in the big scheme of things. My choice of which one of my four pairs of black dress shoes will not make or break my day, but my attitude toward those along my path that morning could be life altering experience.
When we get up in the morning we have no idea if this is going to be the day in which a defining moment of our lives happens. How do you get ready for the big days of life when you never really know when they will appear due to a crisis or opportunity? I would suggest you get ready by calibrating your heart and mind as if every day is the most important and significant day of your life—because it a real sense it is.
Playwright Oscar Wilde made this keen insight into life and the significance of our choices and decisions when he said: “I won’t tell you that the world matters nothing, or the world’s voice, or the voice of society. They matter a good deal. They matter far too much. But there are moments when one has to choose between living one’s own life, fully, entirely, completely—or dragging out some false, shallow, degrading existence that the world in its hypocrisy demands. You have that moment now. Choose!”
As a fully devoted follower of Jesus we would rob earth of the creative genius of our LORD if we settled for a “false, shallow, degrading existence…” We must seek to live out our lives with abandonment, love, laughter, smiles, thoughtfulness, compassion, and purpose. Wilde is right it all comes down to our choice of which path we choose.
How did you learn to be decisive? Who taught you to be wise and discerning? How did you learn the trick of telling the difference between right and wrong, black and white in an increasing gray world?
The writer of Hebrews chided his readers with the following observation when he wrote: By this time you ought to be teachers yourselves, yet here I find you need someone to sit down with you and go over the basics on God again, starting from square one—baby’s milk, when you should have been on solid food long ago! Milk is for beginners, inexperienced in God’s ways; solid food is for the mature, who have some practice in telling right from wrong. (Hebrews 5:12-14 The Message).
My journey toward a discerning heart began at my father’s knee when as an adolescent we thumbed through the pages of the book of Proverbs together seeking the lessons of wisdom. Later I advanced to my Heavenly Father’s knee as I wrestled with the Scriptures for myself. Moving from chocolate milk of Sunday School stories to the grisly meat of the hard sayings of Jesus tested me. Soon I came to realize the harsh, raw honesty of the Scriptures. The men and women revealed on its pages struggled, sinned, and soared—real people in a real world. Now I realize that is what God longs for me. My choices count.