Faith Column: Free to choose

Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; A blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day: and a curse, if you will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day to go after other gods, which you have not known." Deuteronomy 11:26-28

I find new strength and courage every time I read these Bible verses. They convey to me the very heart of God who, by His love, has given us the power to choose life instead of death. They empower me, reminding me that I always have a choice.

The power to choose was unfamiliar to me in my earlier years of alcoholism and abuse. I not only suffered the nasty consequences of my very sick choices, I had painted myself into a corner of helpless, hopeless and hell bound; I didn't know that I had any choice in the matter of my messed up life.

Words can hardly express the un-countable blessings that God has seen fit to bestow upon me, just because I finally chose to follow His way instead of my own.

Do I still battle undesirable character traits? Oh, to be sure. The difference today is that, by taking the hand of Jesus and allowing His Holy Spirit to illuminate the nooks and crannies of my heart, I am aware of these shortcomings.

Through awareness and the conscious desire to obey the commandments of the Lord, each of us is given the means for changing old, destructive habits. Yes, with God's help, we can move into ways that are no longer contrary to His Word, but in keeping with His desire to help His children through this unpredictable, crazy quilt called life. The ultimate reward: life eternal; no longer unpredictable, fearful or tearful.

Most of our Creator's precious humans come into this world with an instinctive desire to help others. Our news media bears this out daily with stories of heroism, wherein the ones who have selflessly saved the lives of their neighbors deem themselves not heroic at all, expressing that they have merely done what anyone else would do.

They are wrong. These heroes have chosen to do the right thing. "Anyone else" might have chosen to turn their backs, ignore the need and walk away.

Like most, however, I have known a strong desire to help others. In fact, my mother used to lament that I was always bringing home stray dogs, stray cats, and stray people. Sometimes our efforts to help don't turn out so well.

I still fight the urge to tell other people what to do. It's actually what I do best; however, others don't always take kindly to this difficulty in keeping my mouth shut. I have no desire to control others - not anymore - but I offer suggestions just hoping to spare another the pain and suffering that I have already endured.

People offer tips and advice because they care. If others refuse our offering, what can we do? They are free to choose.

Jesus desired that we be spared eternal torment. He sacrificed His life because He cares. If we refuse God's ways, what can He do? We are free to choose.

God has chosen to save us from eternal destruction. Shall I desire to choose the gift?