YOU DECIDE – CHOICES
AUTHOR – BILL TAYLOR
COPYRIGHT 2017 – BILL TAYLOR
PUBLISHED BY BILL TAYLOR AT Shakespir
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Special thanks to Shila and Pragna for their encouragement and inspiration
Decisions – Decisions
Our decisions reveal to us and all those connected to our lives what is “most” important on any given day. It simply can’t be avoided. Our choices send irreversible indelibly inscribed messages for the good and the bad equally and with equal power.
It’s not what we say, but rather what we decide to do when presented with optional choices that call for the elimination of something or someone, knowing that all things cannot matter equally. That which gets discarded will be the least valuable every time without fail. That’s not to say of “no value”, just less in the pecking order of priorities. “Value” is a uniquely “relative” term in each of our lives. As humans we will inevitably dispense and relegate “worth” based on our conclusions.
God has graced and honored His creation with the gift of choice. What we do with it is entirely up to us! But to be sure of this: We always and always will have choice in all matters pertaining to our lives!
There’s no such thing as “I have to” or “I can’t” but rather “I choose to’’ or “I don’t”!
John 5 – 1 > 6: “Sometime later Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie; the blind, the lame, and the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, He asked him, ‘’Do you want to get well”?
Reading between the lines I’m thinking, the man spoken to by Jesus, also begged as a way of supplying his daily needs. So here we have a story of a thirty eight year old beggar and cripple. Why would Jesus even feel the need to ask the question? Isn’t the answer brutally obvious?
Well if Jesus asked, we can be sure the man’s response wasn’t nearly as obvious as we might think it would be. Jesus could have just as easily asked: “Do you want to get well or complain about being un-well”?
After our Lord presented the “strange question”, the man dropped a laundry list of excuses for Jesus to peruse as justification regarding his condition. None of his words actually answered the question being asked. You would think one of two expressions would have immediately sprung from his mouth, the most likely being a quick yes, but not the reasons why he was in his state!
You see for a very long time the man had embraced his ‘’sad story” as his identity and had over that time shared it with many. By-passers with their inquiring minds would wonder what might have led to his pitifully unfortunate state in life. The story would predictably be followed with a few coins being offered, all laced with abundant pity. While seeming to the man and the by-passers as a fitting resolve to the issue, the pity only served to keep the man in his pitiful state. He was being given a good reason to remain pitiful. Attention! Be it for a bad reason, it was still attention.
Well, Jesus paid him attention with compassion but not pity. Those two are not to be mistaken for each other. Jesus didn’t want to hear the “sad story” but rather asked a question that would reveal if the man wanted the “sad story’’ to end or did he want to continue with his established brand of attention-getting “un-well”!
As we know, the man “walked” away from the scene healed, but now immersed in a different realm of attention. “Wow, aren’t you the guy who used to be”? God loves to make us a people who “used to be’’! It’s where His glory shines brightest!
In our own way, is it not equally true that Jesus asks us the same question; “Do you want to be well? You can be, if you want to be. I will enable whatever you decide”.
On The Water Is Where Amazing Resides
So often our options of choice will find one path having a lack of common sense attached in the “natural”. If worldly determined logic is always our repetitive deciding factor, we run the risk of forfeiting the available “transcendently amazing” in our lives.
Over time, controllable predictability can become our sadly relegated goal in life. The question: Why would we settle for ‘’beige” when “all the colors of the rainbow” are being offered?
Radicle faith-filled “outside the box’’ thinking has always been God’s gateway to “amazing”!
We preface the story with what had previously occurred before “the event”. Jesus had just fed five thousand men plus women and children with a few loaves and fishes. Prior to that rather spectacular experience, His disciples had witnessed multiple, undeniable, miracles performed by Jesus. They had been privileged with many “reference points” to draw from in reaching their conclusions.
Matthew 14 – 22 > 29: “Immediately Jesus made the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead of Him to the other side while He dismissed the crowd. After He dismissed them He went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night He was there alone and the boat was already a considerable distance from land buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them walking on the lake. When the disciples saw Him walking on the lake they were terrified. “It’s a ghost” they said and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them “Take courage. It is I. Don’t be afraid”. “Lord if it’s You” Peter replied “tell me to come to you on the water’’. “COME” He said.
And here we have “the moment” of decision when the super-natural intersects with the natural in a very uniquely personal way!
There is no account in the story of the other disciples clamoring for ‘’first in the water status”. No one is cheering Peter on with a hearty “Go for it brother”. No, I’m guessing the prevailing murmuring sounded more like: “Peter you are out of your mind and a fool’’.
Jesus had already answered Peter’s question when He said “it is I”, but Peter had a burning in his heart to tangibly answer his own question of “If it’s You”, by actively engaging his faith with the desired result of exchanging his option of mundane presumption and assumption with the radical reality of manifestation.
From another, but equally impactful to Peter perspective, he was needing to know not only ‘’If it’s You’” but also, “Is it true”! You see to Peter, he wasn’t playing some silly “look at me” game by leaving the boat. He needed to prove a very important point to himself! “I’ve been told I can but I won’t know for sure until I try”. Peter driven by his inability to logically dismiss the idea we pick up the story with what he does next, keeping in mind, this is his moment of decision.
“Then Peter got out of the boat and walked toward Jesus”! Well, we all know that his adventure on the water would be short-lived as his circumstantial evidence ( re: huge waves ) captured his attention thereby inducing doubt into the equation causing him to sink.
“Boat sitters” might want to interpret the end result of Peter’s excursion as a caution to what terrible things can happen when you leave the boat. Well, let’s check out what Jesus thought on the matter as He reached out and rescued our brother.
What He didn’t say was, it was wrong for Peter to have left the boat. What He did say was, it was wrong to doubt once he had disembarked!
But let’s not lose sight of the fact: By choice, for a few glorious moments, Peter exchanged the “beige’’ of his life for an “all the colors of the rainbow” experience and in doing so confirmed to himself: It is You and it is true! By getting out of the boat Peter’s faith was transposed to fact! A fact that would radiate and reverberate through his soul going forward!
No doubt, there would still be plenty of mis-takes and mis-steps in Peter’s future but he would never forget the day he transcended the natural and walked on water and likely considered the ‘’getting wet part”, a very small cost for his much valued revelation!
I’m thinking if Peter were present and accounted for at this moment, he may very well counsel us with his “experienced opinion”: Staying dry is highly over-rated!
Speaking of staying dry. The other disciples, armed with the identical information and reference points as Peter, made the perceived by them “safe” choice and stayed in the boat. They equally proved something. Information without application and participation is nothing more than an intellectual agreeing with something without the heart following suit.
Here’s a sobering truth. We not God, determine our experience with God. He makes “all” of Himself available to “all’’ of us. It’s us that chooses how much of that “all” we’re interested in thereby determining the spiritual quality of the relationship.
The Choice Of All Choices
Two thousand years ago on a cross, God made a choice of His own volition. He wasn’t asked to by anyone. That’s amazing in itself to think that God responded to a non-request!
His motivation was birthed in His own need to express Himself to the world. Was it so we would feel guilty? Let’s face it, we are. Perhaps indebted? Let’s face it, we are.
Those no doubt, being two legitimate possibilities, I lean heavily toward a third. That we would feel loved and valued to the extreme by our Creator! He by choice, painted a picture using His only Son’s blood that would forever say: For God so loved the world that He gave everything He had to redeem it.
On that day we know Jesus had choices. He didn’t have to nor was He forced to, He chose to and then chose to forgive those who brutalized Him.
Our book begins with this statement: It’s not what we say, but rather what we decide to do when presented with optional choices that call for the elimination of something or someone, knowing that all things cannot matter equally.
On that day so long ago Jesus chose to eliminated Himself as being of paramount importance and replaced Himself with us! We mattered to Him more than He mattered to Himself! At His arrest Jesus made a profound statement of clarification. One that has echoed down through the corridors of time to this very day: “No man takes My life, I lay it down”.
Jesus is our standard setter. He’s our visual and well inscribed template when it comes to our choices. I believe Jesus would have us soberly consider this reality going forward: There will be times in life when we are called to lay ourselves down for the betterment of another but we are to be inspired with this truth: The tougher the choice, the greater the reward!
Just moments prior to His arrest, Jesus sweat drops of blood in the garden of Gethsemane as He “anguished” over His choice, indicative of a “difficulty factor” we can’t even imagine in our worst of nightmares.
He knew the horror of what was to come and with legitimate choices at His disposal to avoid the cross, He chose to walk in its direction seeing us as being worth the magnitude of the price.
We are His reward for His choice of all choices. Some might think of that as a paltry payment for such a sacrifice. Judging from myself, I would be very tempted to agree with that assumption.
But I can promise you this: Jesus didn’t think so! Unimaginable yet true!
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REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK ONE
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK TWO
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK THREE
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK FOUR
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK FIVE
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK SIX
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK SEVEN
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK EIGHT
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK NINE
THE ROSE AND THE THORN
WILLING HEARTS – NO LIMITS
THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED
THE SECOND CROSS
BULLS IN CHINA SHOPS
FAITH IS A JOURNEY
THE HEART IS SACRED
REJOICE – IT’S A NEW DAY!
BLESSED & CONTENT
MY FRIEND – MY PEACE – MY LORD