Ed, my neighbor next door, doesn’t like to go to a buffet, as he says there are too many food items to choose from. He ends up trying most of them because they all look good and then he resents the ones that were more good looks than taste. Ed goes back a second and third time for the food items he likes best, but he overeats and goes home bloated and uncomfortable. According to Ed, “When there are a lot of choices before you, it makes it worse instead of better. Just two choices are best. With two choices, you have a fifty percent chance of making the right choice.”
Ed’s comments made me think of a story the evangelist Billy Graham told about a man who had trouble with his eyes. His doctor advised the man to have an operation, because he was steadily going blind. So, the man had the operation and his sight became normal again. Unfortunately, the man’s memory began to be affected, so the doctor operated again and the man’s memory returned to normal, but his eyesight failed. The perplexed doctor asked the man, “What do you choose – your memory or your eyesight?” The man replied, “I choose my eyesight, because I would rather spend my life looking ahead than remembering the past.”
Seems to me, life is often only two choices and they are difficult, like deciding if it will be our memory or our eyesight. The choice we make may turn out to be wise or foolish, or it may be good, but not the best choice possible. A person can ask the right questions, ask the right person, receive the right answer and still make the wrong choice.
The Bible tells of a rich young man coming to Jesus. This young man asked Jesus, “What good thing must I do to get eternal life?” Jesus gave the rich young man a hard choice to make. Jesus told him to go and sell his possessions and give to the poor and then come follow him (Jesus). The young man chose to go away and keep his possessions and not follow Jesus, because he had great wealth.
Making a choice means we cannot have it all. If the young man was to follow Jesus and receive eternal life, he had to give away his wealth to the poor first. His desire for eternal life was not as great as his desire to hold on to his wealth. Some choices in life are costly and tremendously hard.
Peter came to Jesus asking him how many times that he (Peter) must forgive his brother when he sins against him. Peter’s choice was to stop forgiving after seven times. Jesus said Peter needed to forgive without limit or a specific number.
The Bible challenges us with the hard choices. Will we choose patience or impatience? Appreciation or complaining? Peaceful actions or angry ones? Forgiveness or revenge? Understanding or condemnation? Unconditional love or conditional love?
Perhaps some of us have become set in our ways: reacting in impatience, anger, revenge, condemnation and conditional love, because it is the way we instinctively respond to our circumstances in life. Once I’m impatient, angry, bent on getting even, or set on accusing another, it is too late. I have already made my choice. May God work a miracle in us that we may not react, but think and choose wisely, for we have to live with the consequences of our choices.