“How long will it be?” he asked, the perennial question of travelers.
“It will be awhile,” I said, “but if you were to fall asleep, the trip would be over in a flash. Suddenly you would wake up and we’re there!”
He lifted an eyebrow and gave me a skeptical look. “But I don’t like naps,” he firmly stated, with his little arms crossed.
“Well,” I said with one of those what-do-you-do sighs, “that’s your choice. Either a long wait or a nap.”
He thought a minute and finally, categorically stated with a firm nod on each word “I choose a long wait.”
Five minutes later he was asleep. He never has been able to stay awake in a car, something I hope will change by the time he turns 16 and starts driving.
I couldn’t help wondering how many of us look at the choices set before us and stubbornly make the wrong one. God tells us how dangerous the world is. He warns against deception and trickery. He tells us our salvation is our own responsibility so be careful who you follow. Yet even when we look at the choices side by side, we seem so drawn to the wrong ones. They are immediate. They are tangible. They are pleasant. The idea of something far superior in the future seems to be pie in the sky. “A bird in the hand…” the old saying goes, and we fall for it nearly every time.
It would be so much easier if God made the choice for us, if he made the sleep overwhelm us involuntarily so the trip would be over in an instant, but where is the glory in a creature who cannot choose?
The idea that God did not give us a choice is, of course, a fairly common theological doctrine. Yet it limits God in ability and creativity. It makes Him a respecter of persons. It makes Him unsympathetic and unapproachable, a tyrant who makes decisions seemingly at random, playing with the eternal souls of people as if they were plastic action figures. That is not the God of the Bible. There are too many heart-rending pleas for us to return. There are too many passages giving options to people in all sorts of situations, including whether or not they will serve Him for that to be true.
He gave me a choice; he gave you a choice. Make the right one.
I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse: therefore choose life, that you may live, you and your seed, Deut 30:19.