We’re making choices every day. Individual decisions seem small and inconsequential. If they follow a generally healthy pattern, they perpetuate life. For instance, it doesn’t really matter if we have oatmeal or whole-grain toast, as long as they’re not loaded with sugar or smeared with thick toppings. It doesn’t usually make a difference if we turn right or left to walk around the block. And it's not a big deal if we read a chapter one day from the New Testament and two the next day from the Old, as long as we’re reading the whole thing in one way or another. Good little choices perpetuate good larger choices already made.
On the other hand, unhealthy choices bring about the illness and suffering we see all around us. Lying on the couch for 3 hours instead of 2.5 doesn’t make much of a difference. We spend hours on mindless TV instead of learning something new or taking time for prayer and scripture. Or we eat too much fat, sugar, salt… though we know instinctively that excessive “anything” can’t be good for us. It’s the pattern that makes the person.
Somewhere along the way, we begin to calcify our instincts. By the time we hit 40 or 50, we have conditioned our reactions. We drift towards right or wrong based on previous decisions. Sometimes we mix it up. I may be a healthy eater but a lazy non-mover. I may watch my healthy physically and neglect spiritual well-being. I may talk suavely about environmentalism but litter outside my neighborhood McDonalds.
Doing what is right is often counter-cultural in a country that rewards excess. We might have to fight for good direction, whether in friendships, nurture of spiritual life, or even physical choices like moderation in eating and exercise. Changing ingrained habits requires serious effort.
One of the consequences of reading books on spiritual formation, social justice, and global education is that I have to stand back to examine my own predispositions. I’m not always happy with what I see. Thankfully, God forgives the past, and moves us toward what is right. His patience never ceases to amaze me.
*"I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them." Deuteronomy 30:19, 20 NKJV
*Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12
*Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice. Proverbs 31:8–9 NLT
*Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17