Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. . . . No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so that you may obey it.
. . . Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. (Deut 30:11, 14, 19-20)
They were on the edge of the Promised Land — finally. It had been a long 40 years wandering in the wilderness, a consequence of their parents’ choice to believe their fears instead of their God.
Now, Moses told a new generation, they also had a choice to make; every generation does. He urged them to choose life — life as God created it to be lived, life under His power and for His purposes. To live that kind of life, they would need to choose to love, to listen, and to latch on to God.
Choosing to love God is the foundational decision for every human being. This is not falling in love, waiting for an emotion to develop, but choosing to respond positively to God’s love for me. Once I know what Jesus has done out of love for me, how compassionate and patient God has been in creating and sustaining my life, then I must make a choice. I either embrace Him with all the love of which I’m capable, or I reject Him. A non-response is a rejection; there is no neutral ground here.
Scripture makes it crystal clear that my love for God is to be whole-hearted. Jesus affirmed previous revelations of this when He said the most important commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30) Every part of my emotional capacity, my personality, my thinking and my energy are to reflect my love for God.
Each time I consider this, I’m overwhelmed by how far short I have fallen. Then the Holy Spirit comforts me by reminding me that He’s not finished with me yet. My desire is to continue to follow where He is leading, and to become more like Jesus in spite of my flaws and failures. Satan would like me to give up. It’s hanging on to the Spirit with both hands that empowers me to keep going.
First, though, I have to choose to listen — and choose to whom I listen. If I choose to listen to Satan’s recitation of all my fears and failures, I end up discouraged, depressed and disabled in my walk. But if I choose to listen to God, to His Word and His Spirit, I’m in awe of my blessings and HIs mercy. I begin to understand that His love doesn’t require perfection from me. What God wants is my desire, my willingness, my hunger for more of Him. It’s that response to His love, that yearning to hear from Him — imperfect as it is — that pleases God. I’d never really know how to take hold of that kind of love if I didn’t listen to His voice.
The love and the listening really go hand in hand. And they generate the last choice and make it an easy one: the choice to latch on to God with everything I have, in every circumstance I meet, with every confidence that He has my very best interest — my eternal interest — at heart. That doesn’t mean He gives me no other supports; He does. But my priority must be to hold on to Him first and not let go. There is nothing in all creation that can foil His purposes, that can defeat His saving work, that can negate His promises. And these can and do include His purposes for me, his work in me, and His promises to me — and to everyone who chooses to believe.
Choosing to love, listen to and latch onto God isn’t too hard for me to do, or a goal impossible to reach. God has given full access to His Word, and His Holy Spirit reveals its meaning. The Spirit is as near as breath itself: within each believer who comes to faith and chooses to make Jesus Lord.
Like every other person, I’m free to choose to put my faith in Jesus, in someone or something else, or in nothing at all. When I choose to love, to listen, and to latch on to God, I’m choosing life. If I decide to reject Him, I’m choosing to take the consequences. Someone has said that we’re free to choose, but not free to choose the consequences of our choices.
Thank You, Precious Lord, for showing me that I can choose life!