Choice is an odd phenomenon. To the best of my knowledge, nobody has ever managed to give a really adequate explanation for how it can possibly exist, but experience tells me that it is very real.
I do this thing.
I decide, and in so doing I demonstrate time and again that the universe is much more than matter and energy in mindless motion. There are always various reasons and causes behind my choices, but there is a bright, bewildering freedom as well. I am constantly constrained both by my circumstances and my character, but within those limitations, I can choose to do one thing... or another. Whatever I choose, the fact of my choosing is a deep mystery that points to the great Chooser who was from the beginning, and whose intention contintually shapes and directs all our lives.
It happens every time I choose pistachio almond instead of fudge ripple, every time I choose to write a sonnet, and every time I choose to let the words slip by because this moment with my children matters more than anything I could say about it. It happens every time I choose to gather the courage to lovingly confront another's sin, and it happens every time I choose to swallow back my bitter words and just keep silent.
I participate in this god-like mystery of choosing all the time.
Except not really. Not always.
Sometimes I don't choose. Sometimes the ugly words just tumble out before I can catch them, and sometimes my silence is fear-bound and involuntary. Sometimes it's both all once, as shame of the words that I shouldn't have said holds back the words that I should have said, until they burst out, putrid, at some absurdly inappropriate moment.
Sometimes my actions are simply and entirely the product of my circumstances and my temperament. Sometimes the image of God is so obscured in me that I am little more than matter and energy in mindless motion.
It's pretty ugly when I'm in that state. We humans can't be good automatons, since that is not how God designed us. The moment we cease to choose, we cease to submit to God's perfect plan for us, since choosing--and choosing well!--is at the heart of what He wants from us. We can choose well, or we can choose badly, but when we aren't choosing at all, it's always awful.
When we choose badly, we start to lose our ability to choose at all. We slip into a spiral of hurt, shame, and just plain orneriness, until we find ourselves doing most of the things that we've decided not to do, and very few of the things that we wanted to choose.
Jesus paid a tremendous price to bring us back to our original glory as choosers in the image of God.
Grab hold of this gift, and guard it well!
"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free...serve one another humbly in love." Galatians 5:1a; 13b NIV
Michael Symmons Roberts*
1 day ago