Sometimes in my life I’ve tended to downplay the importance of choices, instead wanting to emphasize a long term, way of life, in the words of Eugene Peterson: “a long obedience in the same direction.” And of course that is good, and important, and vital in our walk in God. Indeed over time, as N.T. Wright points out, what is good and right, the revealed will of God in Jesus, needs to become second nature to us. So that we are now wired and set in that direction in the way we live. More and more.
But even in that more settled, established life–and of course that is all relative, we are still being changed, and in process–but even in a relatively mature Christian existence, choices matter at key points. What are we going to do when tempted to do something that is not God’s will? Or more subtly, what are we going to do when we’re up against it, when all hell seems to have broken loose against us, when we’re troubled over (possibly) bad news, or something of the like?
This is when choices matter. Like when Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane. Automatic, that Jesus would go the whole way for us and for our salvation, indeed for the salvation of the world? Check. But wait a minute. Didn’t Jesus pray that if possible the cup would be taken away from him? But then comes Jesus’ clear decision: “Nevertheless, not my will, but your will, Father, be done.” Jesus decisively makes a clear choice. And proceeds. In dependence on the Father, and by the Spirit, and I would think praying the psalms.
I have faced this lately. I can give in and give up too easily. No. We stop in our tracks, and bring the matter to God. And wait on him. Stopping means we don’t proceed in reference to the matter. And for me this means a kind of slowing down, and becoming quiet. Waiting for God to speak and work. And with the choice to live in God’s will in Jesus, as God makes that known, and opens it up to us.
That has been important to me on a number of fronts lately. Mostly seemingly small things, though not altogether. I want to live as one among others in the way of Jesus. Of course by grace. Choices matter. Maybe even more often what we decide not to do, or say–than what we decide to do, or say. All in the way of Jesus must be done in love. And in accord with the truth as it’s revealed in Jesus and through scripture.
Wait is an important watch word for us. Slow down. Stop. Be still as possible in God’s Presence. Proceed when one senses God’s revelation and release. Even through words that come to us, or a sense of what needs to be done, or not done. All in the way of Jesus for us before and for the world.