But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve.
-Joshua 24:15 NLT
The blue pill or the red pill! Who would have thought that every choice you make has such a great impact on your life? Let’s start from the beginning in how God made us. His intelligence is so far beyond our reach that we can’t fathom His thoughts of how He made us in His image. For God said, “Let us make man in Our image, according to our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps over the earth (Genesis 1:26 NKJV). He wants us to rule, and given us the power to do so! But because of sin, we made choices that have allowed distractions, anxiety, worry, and other things to rule us instead of us ruling it. In those choices, we deny access to the power God has so graciously given us.
I realized I had no authority over my life when the decisions I made began to impact me so profoundly that it sent me into a world so full of darkness it became hard for me to climb out. The more I tried to get out in my strength, the deeper it got. It was like quicksand devouring my every move and putting out the light that once guided me. I was now in uncharted waters of the great unknown; a world I was not familiar with because I gave over my authority to circumstances that were controlling me instead of me controlling them. I was running behind drama instead of staying in front of it. Does this sense of madness seem familiar to you? I had no idea of the chaos I allowed myself to be a willing participant. I thought of myself as a good Christian Woman, doing all which was required to live as God attended me to live. I did just enough to keep myself close to God so that I can receive blessings, but I still wanted to control my life. How foolish was I, because that wasn’t what God wanted. He wants to be my Lord and Savior, He wants to be my King, He wants to love me unconditionally, and wanted me to live out my life through Him with purpose. He wants a relationship with me! So, He said go ahead, and have your life without me, as it was my choice. I left His protection and provision He had for me. God allowed me to destroy the house I was building, that I may return to him and receive the mansion He has for me. C.S. Lewis explains it best:
“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
- C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
For the mansion to be built, it required that I surrender all that was familiar to me, all the sinful habits, the way I thought, and how I function. My mind was undergoing a paradigm shift to Kingdom thinking. A process that is learned to meditate in the ways of God as the world I was in was quite different to the Kingdom I had now entered.
Now, I did have a choice in the matter as God has given us all free will to do what we like. I could have chosen to continue to do which was not working at all, to say the least, or I could decide to have a more meaningful life with God. My choice was not hard, as He had been calling on me for quite some time, so I chose to walk with Him although He had already chosen me. Jeremiah speaks of this when he tells us “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born, I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5 NLT). And he also says, “For I know the plans I have for you, “says the Lord.” They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT). So you see, God has a plan and purpose for me as it was planned long ago, from my date of birth until my date of death, and still then, He has more for me to do in eternity with Him.
Choosing God's plan for my life required rules and discipline which in some areas I was not familiar. I was used to making decisions based on my way of thinking and only accountable to myself in what I thought was right and best for me. God was not included in the process. I kept things separate and didn’t get His thoughts on matters regarding my life until after things had transpired and then I would ask him to work it out after I made a mess of it. Does this sound familiar to you? Sure it does, because we all have done it. Knowing my old behavior, I couldn’t make this change by myself, and It was wonderful to know that I did not have too. God said I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13 NKJV), and Jesus said Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20 NLT). This was great news to me and encourage me, even more, to move forward with my decision of choosing life. To do so, I had to do three things:
1. Love God with all your heart all your soul and all your mind (Matthew 22:37).
2. Imitate God, therefore in everything you do because you are his children (Ephesians 5:1).
3. Listening and obeying His word (Proverbs 8:32).
Loving God with all my heart, soul, and mind
For me to love him required that I develop a relationship with God, and that meant spending quality time with him. Not how I was spending time with Him before, on Sunday’s and occasionally Wednesday nights at Bible study. How do you get to know someone by spending two days with them out of the week? You only know of them, but not who they are entirely. Moses had a relationship in which God spoke to him face to face. The LORD would speak to Moses' face to face, as one speaks to a friend (Exodus 33:11 NIV). Abraham was also a friend of God because he believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness, (James 2:23). However, the most dynamic relationship of them all is the Trinity which means three in one, The Father, Son and the Holy Spirit and yet each person is fully God! Referring back to Genesis 1:26, “Let us make man in our own image after our likeness,” indicates a plurality and that a relationship existed. So God is all about having relationships, and it was clear he wanted a relationship with me.
In attending church all of my childhood and part of my adult life, I was always told that Jesus knows and understand how I feel, and knew everything I was going through. That He sympathizes with my weakness and when I am weak that we should draw near to Him for in Him there was comfort, peace, grace and love. In my time of darkness and confusion, it was hard to grasp that He cared just because I was told by the Pastor, and when I would occasionally open my Bible in church. But, I didn’t know him for myself, and we didn’t have a relationship because I had not allowed myself to experience His love. My faith in an invisible God loving me so much, was just unimaginable because my faith was so weak. I would ask God to help, but when I thought He was taking too long to answer my prayer, or I did not like the answer, I brought things back under my control. You see, I did not look to God as my Savior, but as a God, who could grant me blessings, or wishes whenever I asked. I soon found out that was not the case.
Taking the leap of faith and spending time with God in His word I began to discover the awesome power of a true living God as His words spoke to my heart in my desire to know Him. I began to appreciate the significant qualities of God, an awareness that had not been known to me until I read His word with the thought of clinging to Him as a child clings to its Mother and Father. Truly appreciating Him as the life giver, who gives me the breath of life each day and understanding that this is something I could never do on my own. Soon I realized, I am not in control at all, but it is a higher power at work in this world and me. The author of life and creator of all things for it all belongs to Him. The Great I AM! Moses tells of God’s beautiful works in the description of forming the world.
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day (Genesis 1:1-5 NIV).
John illustrates the relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit wonderfully when he says, “In the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him, nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:1-5 NIV).
Reading both passages, open my eyes to who God is, and the power He possesses. With gratitude, I had to rejoice that God had chosen me, and I now had a real relationship with the true and living God for which I can now love with all my heart all my mind, and all my soul.
To imitate God in everything we do we have to understand who He is in nature which is demonstrated through His divine attributes. His attributes can be seen all over from simple observation of the world itself and the creation of everything in it. Paul spoke of his attributes saying “For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:20 NIV). In reading this passage, we can see that we are truly held accountable for our actions because we are without excuses. There is no denying the existence of God as His glory is present everywhere. Therefore, it should be no denying that we are to follow our Creator in everything He does and obey all that he requires us to do.
I stated earlier that we are to love God with all our heart mind and soul. In doing so, we begin to see what love is. For love is not something that we add alongside to the attributes of God. God is, in fact, Love! God’s character and very nature exude love for that is which we were made for…to love. John emphasized that by saying; “Whoever does not love does not know God because God is love,” (1 John 4:8 NIV). So the first thing we should do in imitating God is to love. Love our neighbor as we love ourselves. As we experience this great wonder of love and appreciating its existence, we experience an awesome oneness with the Creator himself. A spiritual harmony which showcases the realities of God heavenly existence and our deepest desires are fulfilled in His pure satisfaction of love.
The next step in imitating God is forgiveness. C. S. Lewis explains the problem with forgiveness as such:
. . . you must make every effort to kill every taste of resentment in your own heart—every wish to humiliate or hurt him or to pay him out. The difference between this situation and the one in such you are asking God’s forgiveness is this. In our own case, we accept excuses too easily; in other people’s we do not accept them easily enough.
- C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
As I look back on pain and suffering that was inflicted upon me by others, forgiveness was very hard for me to do. I was not aware that I struggle with forgiveness until the feelings I was harboring were manifesting in new relationships. I was carrying bags of bitterness, anger and pain everywhere I went and could not understand why all my relationships were turning out the same. The pattern consists of getting angry because I was not treated the way I treated them (control). Things had to be seen or go my way or it didn’t work (manipulation) and lastly when all else failed, cut them off because they were never a friend anyway (fear). In light of this, I realized I was protecting myself from experiences that occurred as a child and allowing the seed of pain to grow and take over my life. For this stronghold to be broken in my life, it required that I give it to God, because it was so clear that I could not do it on my own.
In the parable of the unforgiven servant, Peter asks Jesus “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21-22 NKJV). This meant I was to forgive always, no matter the cause because this was a requirement of God. It is also by God’s grace for which I am forgiven and through his forgiveness, I had entered into a spiritual freedom for which all chains of the stronghold were broken and when I came to understand the truth of forgiveness, I then forgave myself.
Listening and Obeying
I remember talking with an acquaintance contemplating on a decision which I knew would affect my life dearly. The response I received was “You are a grown woman!” That resonated with my whole being because it was at that point I realized that I am accountable for everything that I do. Which meant, the responsibility lies with me on whether I am obedient to God or not, and there is always a blessing and a curse tied to it.
In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses were preparing the Israelites to take possession of the promised land that God has given them and was very clear about them being obedient to the Lord. He first reminded them where they had come from and how God had kept them all that time by feeding them, protecting them and clothing them. Making provisions for them, because they could not provide for themselves. So as they were preparing to go into the land for which God had promised, Moses wanted them to know how serious it was for them to listen and obey, and if they did, blessings they would receive, but if they did not, curses would be inflicted upon them.
“Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD, your God, will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess” (Deuteronomy 30:11-18 NIV).
This is also applicable to our lives today. If we listen and obey God, he will protect us from ourselves, and the unnecessary pain which we inflict upon ourselves by not making the choice to obey. This is not to say that we won’t have challenges or difficulty because we live in a fallen world. However, in choosing to listen and obey God, we are always under His provision and protection, and this is the best place to be as He knows all things, and control all things. So we can have peace that surpasses all understanding and we also show how much we love God when we choose to obey. In sharing with the disciples the promises of the Holy Spirit, Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” (John 14:23-24 NIV). So it is out of love in which we are obedient, for we don’t want to disappoint our Father, we only want to do what is pleasing to him because we love him. Type your paragraph here.
Desmarie Guyton Managment