One day, while walking in Wonderland, Alice came upon a crossroad. She did not know which road to take. So she asked one of the characters in Wonderland, "Sir, could you tell me which road I should choose?" The character answered her, "My dear, do you know where you are going?" As Alice stood silently and pondered over that question, he continued, "My dear, if you do not know where you are going, then it does not matter which way you choose."
In life, we constantly find ourselves in situations where we have to make choices. Which path should I take? What course should I study? In which company should I work? Many people describe the beginning of life as a boat that has just left a sheltered harbor. We are the coxswains who have to steer this ship in a vast and boisterous sea.
The Wisest Choice...
Today, as Christians who have been purchased by the precious blood of our Lord, we have actually allowed our Lord Jesus to become the master of our lives. We have made the choice to believe in Him, follow Him, and allow Him to lead us into His heavenly kingdom. This is the wisest and best decision that a person can ever make in his entire life. Why? Elder James once declared, "What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes" (Jas 4:14). Yet if we choose to believe in Him, after this short earthly life, we shall become partakers of the eternal heavenly kingdom. Consequently, it is only logical that all the other choices in our livesâ€”our studies, career, etc.â€”should be in line with this great choice that we have made.
Sadly, when confronted with the demands of society, expectations of the people around us, and the pressures in life, we find ourselves in a constant struggle to keep up with our Christian principles. We find it difficult at times to make choices in our lives that are in concert with our decision to become a Christian. In addition, we find that the commitment to our initial choice to become a Christian is often weak and difficult to sustain.
We are all familiar with the account of Moses leading the nation of Israel out of Egypt. Through the hand of Moses, God performed ten great miracles in the land of Egypt so that the nation of Israel could be freed from bondage. The Israelites were witnesses of these signs. They then made the choice to submit themselves to the leadership of Moses, so that by Moses, God would lead them into the land of promise.
Arriving at the Red Sea, a seemingly insurmountable obstacle confronted the entire nation.
Right behind were the pursuing and ferocious armies of the Pharaoh. Immediately, the people of Israel started murmuring against Moses (Ex 14:10-12). At that crucial moment, they forgot the ten plaques sent by God. They lost faith in God's salvation and failed to believe in His deliverance. The Israelites were uncommitted to the choice they had made earlier to let God lead them into the land of promise.
As they journeyed through the wilderness, God guided them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. When they met with adversaries, God fought for them. When they were hungry or thirsty, God provided for their physiological needs. God cared for them as a father would do for his children. Finally when they were about to enter the land of promise, 12 spies were sent to check out the land. Because of the reports of ten faithless spies, the Israelites started to murmur against God again. They were even planning to choose a leader to lead them back to Egypt, to a life of bondage (Num 14:1-4). In perspective, they feared death at the hands of the Canaanites more than a life of continuous bondage under the Egyptians. More importantly, they had forgotten how God had guided them in their wilderness journey. They had also forgotten the mighty works of God that they had witnessed with their own eyes. Where was their commitment to their choice to leave Egypt and enter the promised land? It was all gone! Their commitment was situational, largely influenced by their circumstances. As a result, for most of them, their lives ended tragically. Except for Joshua and Caleb, those above the age of 20 did not enter the promised land (Num 14:20-23, 27-30).
It is heart-wrenching to read of the tragedy of the Israelites. It would be worse to find ourselves repeating this history. Today, we have decided to become a Christian. This is good. But do we have faith in God's promises? Do we rely on Him to guide us and trust His deliverance in all our times of need? Let the tragedy of the Israelites be a lesson to us. We have to constantly ponder over the mighty works of God in our own lives and, based on these, build up a life of trust in God. Let us not merely be Christians by name, uncommitted to our faith. If we are, we may find ourselves barred from the land of promise one day. Let us hold fast to our faith and be totally committed right to the end (Heb 3:14).
An Even Better Life?
Growing materialism and affluence constantly lure us in search of a more comfortable life. Are God's material blessings insufficient? Are we caught up in the vicious circle of material pursuit and upgrades? Some have chosen a more comfortable life at the expense of their faith. Some have chosen to store up treasures on earth, thereby compromising their fervor and dedication towards God. Some have invested more time in pursuing things in this world because they are afraid of losing out to their relatives and close friends in the quantity and quality of their material possessions. Are all these necessary? Didn't God say that if we seek His kingdom and His righteousness, He would provide all our basic needs? (Mt 6:33).
The Bible portrays Christianity as a relationship between God and humanity. Our Lord Jesus Christ went all the way to provide a new and living way for us. He remains committed to His mission to make that sacrifice for us (Phil 2:8). Today, He understands our weaknesses and continues to help us in our times of need. He remains faithful to this relationship today and forever. The question we have to ask ourselves is whether we have fulfilled our part of this God-human relationship. Are we faithful towards Him, or are we building for ourselves a "better life" of comfort at the expense of our faith? Perhaps we may succeed in achieving a more comfortable life but will it be a truly blissful life? Or have we just completed a magnificent sandcastle? Has physical comfort blinded us to the threat of the rising tide? Luxury or poverty, abundance or lack, all will pass away. The important thing is to live a life pleasing to God, to always honor the God-Human relationship and be contented with the things God has given us.
During the period of the Judges, there lived a person named Elimelech who took his entire family to the land of Moab because there was a famine in the land of Judah. Though he was not starving in Judah, he sought refuge in a foreign land because he wanted a better life. He had abundance (Ruth 1:21) but went to the land of the Gentiles to search for more abundance. In the land of Moab, his family did indeed enjoy greater abundance, but just for a few years. Tragedy soon struck. Elimelech passed away. His two sons who had married Moabite women also died (Ruth 1:1-5).
This is the end result of one who sought a better life of greater abundance, not contented with the things God gave. Elimelech left Judah, God's promised land, for Moab, a land that the Bible describes as the land God hated. His search for a life of greater abundance ended in tragedy. Let us learn from the example of Elimelech. In whatever circumstances we find ourselves, let us never depart from the promises and presence of God. Let us keep ourselves in the grace of God all the days of our life, and lead a life truly pleasing to Him. Only then are we fulfilling our part in the God-Human relationship.
Choices, Choices, Choices.... Which One?
The decision to become a Christian and to remain faithful and committed to God is not the only decision one makes in his entire life. It is this decision, however, that will be the guiding principle in all the other choices he should make.
The Moabite woman Ruth was given a choice to either return to her people or follow her mother-in-law, Naomi, to Judah. She chose to believe in the God of Israel and to be an Israelite. She elected to go to Judah to look after Naomi (Ruth 1:16). This turned out to be the wisest decision:
- She yielded herself to the customs and practices of the Israelites in the matter of redeeming back the land (Ruth 3:9-10).
- She was willing to humble herself and to swallow her pride to glean in the fields so that she could support her mother-in-law and herself.
- She led a life of virtue (Ruth 3:11) and sacrifice because of her commitment to her initial decision to live in the land of Judah with Naomi. Her decision to make the God of Israel her God and the people as her people was the principle for subsequent decisions through out her life.
Finally, God blessed Ruth abundantly. She became an ancestress of King David (Ruth 4:21-22) and our Lord Jesus (Mt 1:5). Such is the blessing awaiting one who is truly committed to her choice of faith. Let us emulate Ruth in her commitment and her spirit of sacrifice. Let us allow our decision of becoming a Christian form the guiding principle in other choices we make in our life. If we understand why we became Christians and the Christian goals that we should pursue, it is easy to make choices in our career, studies, and marriage that are consistent and pleasing in the eyes of God.
Are you at the crossroads today, wondering which path you should take? Brace up! Think about the ultimate goal that you should be pursuing. Think about where you want to steer your life and where you want to end up at the close. Then make the choice that is consistent with these goals. Finally let us remain committed to our Lord. Let us not waver from our wisest choice of becoming a Christian. Instead, let us rely on Him constantly in whatever circumstances, trusting in His deliverance all the days of our life.