“Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:14, 15)

Some choices are understood to be critical and contain significance that is obvious. Other choices are routine and happen almost habitually. Some choices are extremely serious. They demand time and thought. Other choices are “no brainers.” They are made as almost a reflex response to the immediate situation.

Choices are peculiar things. All of them set in motion events that touch lives and produce events beyond our imaginations.

Years ago in another state I knew a teen extremely close to his parents. Whenever possible, the three were together. When he did anything, one or both parents were present. One day, he and a couple of friends agreed to haul some hay to help someone out—a harmless, small, good choice. As they returned, he decided to ride in the bed of the truck—a harmless, small choice. He decided to get atop the cab and put his hands on the wind shield—no harm intended. His friend touched the brakes—no harm intended. The boy on the cab fell and lost his life. Wonder how many lives were affected for many years to come because of that series of choices which intended no harm?

I have not kept a record of funerals I have been a part of for over 50 years. Some involved people who lived long, full lives. Some involved tragedies that were unexpected. Often I heard grieving people say, “If only I had done this,” or, “If only that had happened!” Typically, one small difference, one small choice made differently, would have altered (at least temporarily) the situation in powerful ways.

It is not just the sorrow in death, but also the living of life. Most of us can look at a number of events in our lives that would have impacted the direction of our lives and the lives of others tremendously if only our decision had been made differently.

Few things say as much about who we are and what our values are as do our choices. It is amazing how a single, innocent, insignificant choice can forever determine someone’s opinion of what we are, or alter the direction of our life, or impact someone else in ways we never intended, or change lives that were not involved in our choice. When we realize the impact of a poorly or thoughtlessly made choice, often our only recourse is a declaration of sorrow. However, regardless of our genuine sorrow, our sorrow does not alter the sequence of events we set in motion by a poor or thoughtless choice.

Thank You, God, for Your forgiveness! Give us the patience and the wisdom to make better choices. Help us be responsible when we recognize the hurt of our choices.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 7 August 2008

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