15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 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.
As a parent, the phrase “choose your battles” comes to mind at least once a day. I used to think most conflicts I’d deal with would be at my job or when I’m out running errands or POSSIBLY with my wife. But as soon as my daughter began speaking and having a good sense of what she wants at any given time, I knew this would be where that phrase would most come in handy 😏.
It’s at those tumultuous moments that both her and I must think “Is this the time to argue, the time to take action, or the time to compromise? Choose your battles. 🤔 Hmm… let’s compromise this time.” Yes, you do have to compromise sometimes, even with a 2 ½ year old.
You can’t always “win” an argument if want the opportunity to teach later.
I firmly believe this is one of the reasons God allows us the opportunity to choose. In the scripture above, God provides a choice that is easy to understand. If you do the right thing, you’ll live. Do the wrong thing and you’ll die. But if you’re like me then you’ll agree that these types of choices, while easy in concept, can be extremely difficult to decide correctly. For instance, we know that John 3:16 tells us that believing in Jesus leads eternal life. But even though it is so simple, how do so many people choose not to believe in him (leading to eternal death). And for those of us that do believe in Jesus, why do we struggle to KEEP the faith and follow him unconditionally?
The answer I have may not be what you want to hear, but it’s the truth. God gives us choices that require us to (many times painfully) learn and practice what we’ve learned. Thinking back to those moments I have with my daughter, it would be fairly easy to decide for her using force. If I want her to go to her room, I could physically pick her up and carry her. That may be required sometimes, but if I do it every time, what would happen? She would expect me to lift her and may even try to physically fight back. That is of course not the end goal I want to teach.
I believe God is no different. God does not want us to go through life (and eternity) looking for him to do everything. If he did, we wouldn’t be living, but simply existing with no thought or sense of direction – puppets on strings 🥱. Eternal life wouldn’t be a goal we could appreciate, but a destination we’d ungratefully expect.
What God does want is for us to choose our battles. Choose when and how to serve him. Choose what tasks he assigns us to pursue. Choose how to live our lives. We won’t always get it right. We may even choose not to serve him at all. It will hurt him, yes, but as a parent he will love us unconditionally. That is not to say that we should do whatever we want and disregard his commandments. It is to say:
We can be thankful we’re given opportunities and not obligation.
We can love God not because he forces us, but because he deserves it. Not only does he allow us the option to take his tests, he’s also the kind of teacher that gives us the answer key side-by-side with the test. God knows our lives are hard… so he provides his spirit as a teacher of all things (John 14:26) and his word as a light to our path (Psalm 119:105). Both of those, of course, are optional resources. Choose your battles and choose what to take with you in battles. As for me and my house, we choose to serve the Lord 🙏.